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Arch Bishop Ralph Vendegna S.O.S.M.A.

Spiritual Reading


  • Wednesday 29 July 2020

    Saint Martha 
    on Wednesday of week 17 in Ordinary Time


    Spiritual Reading

    Your Second Reading from the Office of Readings:

    Saint Martha

    Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (c.1654?), attributed to Jan Vermeer (1632-1675), National Gallery of Scotland.


    From a sermon by Saint Augustine
    Blessed are they who deserved to receive Christ in their homes

    Our Lord’s words teach us that though we labour among the many distractions of this world, we should have but one goal. For we are but travellers on a journey without as yet a fixed abode; we are on our way, not yet in our native land; we are in a state of longing, not yet of enjoyment. But let us continue on our way, and continue without sloth or respite, so that we may ultimately arrive at our destination.
    Martha and Mary were sisters, related not only by blood but also by religious aspirations. They stayed close to our Lord and both served him harmoniously when he was among them. Martha welcomed him as travellers are welcomed. But in her case, the maidservant received her Lord, the invalid her Saviour, the creature her Creator, to serve him bodily food while she was to be fed by the Spirit. For the Lord willed to put on the form of a slave, and under this form to be fed by his own servants, out of condescension and not out of need. For this was indeed condescension, to present himself to be fed; since he was in the flesh he would indeed be hungry and thirsty.
    Thus was the Lord received as a guest who came unto his own and his own received him not; but as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God, adopting those who were servants and making them his brothers, ransoming the captives and making them his co-heirs. No one of you should say: “Blessed are they who have deserved to receive Christ into their homes!” Do not grieve or complain that you were born in a time when you can no longer see God in the flesh. He did not in fact take this privilege from you. As he says: Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you did to me.
    But you, Martha, if I may say so, are blessed for your good service, and for your labours you seek the reward of peace. Now you are much occupied in nourishing the body, admittedly a holy one. But when you come to the heavenly homeland will you find a traveller to welcome, someone hungry to feed, or thirsty to whom you may give drink, someone ill whom you could visit, or quarrelling whom you could reconcile, or dead whom you could bury?
    No, there will be none of these tasks there. What you will find there is what Mary chose. There we shall not feed others, we ourselves shall be fed. Thus what Mary chose in this life will be realised there in all its fullness; she was gathering fragments from that rich banquet, the Word of God. Do you wish to know what we will have there? The Lord himself tells us when he says of his servants, Amen, I say to you, he will make them recline and passing he will serve them.


    ________

    The ferial reading for today:


    Wednesday of week 17 in Ordinary Time

    From the Instructions to Catechumens by St Cyril of Jerusalem
    The Church, the assembly of God's people

    The Catholic, or universal, Church gets her name from the fact that she is scattered through the whole world from the one end of the earth to the other, and also because she teaches universally and without omission all the doctrines which are to be made known to mankind, whether concerned with visible or invisible things, with heavenly or earthly things. Then again because she teaches one way of worship to all men, nobles or commoners, learned or simple; finally because she universally cures and heals every sort of sin which is committed by soul and body. Moreover there is in her every kind of virtue in words and deeds and spiritual gifts of every sort.
    The Church, that is, the assembly, is designated by this apt term, because it assembles all and brings them together, as the Lord says in Leviticus: Assemble all the congregation at the door of the tent of meeting. Moreover it is worth noting that this word ‘assemble’ is first used in scripture in the place where the Lord appointed Aaron to the high priesthood. And in Deuteronomy God says to Moses: Assemble the people that they may hear my words, that they may learn to fear me. He mentions the Church or assembly again when he speaks of the tables of the law. In them were written all the words which the Lord spoke with you on the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, on the day of the Church or assembly – or to put it more clearly, On the day on which you were called by the Lord and assembled together. The psalmist also says: I will give you thanks, O Lord, in the great Church, in the gathering of the throng I will praise you.
    Earlier the psalmist had sung: Bless the Lord in the Church, bless God, you who are Israel’s sons. The second Church the Saviour built from the Gentiles, our holy Church of the Christians, of which he said to Peter: On this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.
    After the particular Church of Judaea was repudiated, many Churches of Christ are now multiplied throughout the whole world, of which it is written in the psalms: Sing to the Lord a new song, let his praise be in the Church of the saints. Echoing this the prophet said to the Jews: I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of Hosts and immediately adds, For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations. About the same holy Catholic Church Paul writes to Timothy: That you may know how one ought to live in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.


    Copyright © 1996-2020 Universalis Publishing Limited: see www.universalis.com. Scripture readings from the Jerusalem Bible are published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. Text of the Psalms: Copyright © 1963, The Grail (England). Used with permission of A.P. Watt Ltd. All rights reserved.