Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: The Church, in Her Liturgy, continues the work of Jesus on earth, calling all in unity to obey the two great commandments.

Monday of First Week in Course

January 12, 2013

Sacrosanctum Concilium

Today we begin reading the Letter to the Hebrews, in which the author writes what may be the first theology of the atonement. We also see Peter, Andrew, James and John being called to be disciples, and ultimately apostles, of the Gospel. They left everything and followed Jesus. As a result, the Church in the U.S. asks us today to begin a week of prayer for priestly and religious vocations. We should do that, but we should also understand that the Gospel call is to everyone. The call to holiness is to everyone. We are not all called to vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience, but we are all held to the vocation to put everything we own at the service of the Gospel. We are all bound to chaste conduct, either in the married or single life. And we all at least inchoately understand that doing God’s will, rather than ours, leads to true happiness. If we have that mind, then it is easier to hear the summons of Jesus to the religious or clerical state. That is particularly true in these times in which the secular culture, and the secular government, has no particular love for Christian faith, Catholic faith most especially. Note that Jesus began to gather his team for the fight ahead after John was arrested. He didn’t go into hiding from the evil; he confronted it boldly.

The Fathers of the Council, in their Liturgy Constitution, noted this mission of Christ, which found fulfillment in the mission of the Church: God who "wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4), "who in many and various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets" (Heb. 1:1), when the fullness of time had come sent His Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the the gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart [8], to be a "bodily and spiritual medicine" [9], the Mediator between God and man [10]. For His humanity, united with the person of the Word, was the instrument of our salvation. Therefore in Christ "the perfect achievement of our reconciliation came forth, and the fullness of divine worship was given to us" [11].

The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God. He achieved His task principally by the paschal mystery of His blessed passion, resurrection from the dead, and the glorious ascension, whereby "dying, he destroyed our death and, rising, he restored our life" [12]. For it was from the side of Christ as He slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth "the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church" [13].

6. Just as Christ was sent by the Father, so also He sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This He did that, by preaching the gospel to every creature [14], they might proclaim that the Son of God, by His death and resurrection, had freed us from the power of Satan [15] and from death, and brought us into the kingdom of His Father. His purpose also was that they might accomplish the work of salvation which they had proclaimed, by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves. Thus by baptism men are plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ: they die with Him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him [16]; they receive the spirit of adoption as sons "in which we cry: Abba, Father" ( Rom. 8 :15), and thus become true adorers whom the Father seeks [17]. In like manner, as often as they eat the supper of the Lord they proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes. [Art 5-7]

We are not called to follow Christ as individuals, as monads. We are called in family to the family of God, to obey the two great commandments of love of God and love of neighbor. We accomplish those two commandments by avoiding evil–keeping the ten commandments that follow from the two great ones. But we do good principally in the Liturgy–by coming together to make real the prayer of Jesus “that all be One, as you and I, Father, are One,” by giving praise and thanksgiving to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, by confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness for ourselves and our community, and by offering prayers and supplications for all men, particularly the leaders of society. Because, as Aristotle taught wisely, politics is fundamentally the social application of ethics. A government exists to foster public good and deter public evil.

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