Wednesday, June 21, 2006
"If a good man strikes or reproves me it is kindness.
Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth;
keep watch at the door of my lips." Psalm 141 (out of sequence.)
An unedited homily from Don Marco for the Mass of the day, June 20, 2006: (A day late!)
³I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those whopersecute you² (Mt 5:44). ³Bless those who curse you, pray for those whoabuse you² (Lk 6:28). These are not suggestions, dear brothers and sisters;they are not pious recommendations. They are clear precepts of Christ:commandments conceived in His merciful Heart and addressed to each of uswithout exception. It is no coincidence that this Gospel passage should be given usat this particular liturgical moment: halfway between the Solemnity of theMost Holy Body and Blood of Christ and that of the Most Sacred Heart ofJesus. One cannot receive the Forgiving Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist andpersist in refusing anyone forgiveness. One cannot approach the PiercedHeart of Jesus and not be drawn into His prayer to the Father from theCross: ³Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do² (Lk 23:34). The prevalent culture of options and of personal choices has allbut rendered us impermeable to the commandments of Our Lord. We prefer tothink of them as suggestions or as ³talking points.² Contemporarysensibilities in the world and, alas, even in the Church, resent theobjective precept, the non-negotiable commandment, the mandate coming fromabove. A combination of the effects of original sin and actual sins ofpride has conditioned us to want to discuss everything, to debateeverything, to argue the value of any law coming from above us or outside ofus. Today in the Gospel Our Lord presents us with just such a commandment.It is not a suggestion. It is not open to discussion. It is not thesubject of debate. It is a divine commandment. In obeying it, we obey God.In neglecting to obey it, we neglect to obey God. Insofar as we consider ourselves disciples of Christ, we arebound to bless those who curse us, to pray for those who speak evil againstus. We are commanded to do good to those who hate us. This good that weare commanded to do is, first of all and above all, prayer. There is no greater force for good than prayer. There is nobetter way to do good to those who hate us than by asking the light of theFace of Christ to envelop them and penetrate them. There is nothing morebeneficial to those who afflict us than confident recourse to the piercedHeart of Jesus. There is no more powerful blessing of those who curse usthan the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered on their behalf. For thosespeak evil against us there is no prayer more powerful than the prayer ofChrist the High Priest who, in every Mass, stands before His Father,pleading and interceding for those who approach God through Him. Mother Church, with her ancient experience of human nature,provides us with the means of obeying this commandment of our Lord. TheRoman Missal contains a Mass specifically for this purpose. It is entitledPro Affligentibus Nos, ³For Those Who Afflict Us.² The title of the Massspeaks volumes. Opening my Latin dictionary to the entry for affligo, I seethat it means to throw down, to afflict, damage, crush, break, ruin; humble,weaken, or vex. If you have ever felt thrown down, if you have ever feltafflicted, damaged, crushed, broken, ruined, humbled, weakened, or vexed,you need to enter wholeheartedly into today¹s Mass Pro Affligentibus Nos. There is a mysterious power in praying for those who have hurtus, in interceding wholeheartedly< for those who have spoken ill of us,< for those who have damaged our reputations,< for those who have incited others to think less of us,< for those who have hurt us emotionally, physically, or spiritually,< for those who have been abusive toward us,< for those who have cursed us,< for those have broken our hearts, betrayed us, or rejected us. Our Lord commands us to pray for them, not only for their sakes,but also for our own. Our own spiritual liberation, our own inner healingfrom resentment, hatred, and lingering bitterness is contingent upon ourpersevering obedience to the commandments of Christ in today¹s Gospel. Prayer for those who afflict us has, at times, immediate andastonishing results. Persons suffering from physical complaints < chronicillnesses, pains, and weaknesses < have been completely healed after prayingsincerely for those with whom they are at enmity. Persons suffering fromemotional illnesses < depression, chronic jealousy, addictive patterns ofbehaviour, and irrational fears < have been liberated from these afterobeying Our Lord¹s commandment to pray for those at the root of theirsuffering. Prayer for those who afflict us sets in motion concentriccircles of reconciliation and healing. In praying for those who have hurtyou, place no limits on the munificence of God. Ask boldly. Beg God tooverwhelm them with His choicest blessings, to make them profoundly andtruly happy in this world and in the next. This kind of prayer, made inobedience to the commandment of the Lord, radiates an invisible butsupremely efficacious love: the very charity of God ³poured into our heartsby the Holy Spirit which He has given us² (Rom 5:5). ³In all these thingswe are more than conquerors through Him who loved us² (Rom 8:37). You may find it helpful as part of your preparation for thefeast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to pray the following prayer offorgiveness and reconciliation, or one like it: Lord Jesus Christ,Who revealed the infinite mercy of Your Sacred Heartin saying: ³Love your enemiesand pray for those who persecute you² (Mt 5:44)and again, ³Bless those who curse you,pray for those who abuse you² (Lk 6:28),give me, I beseech You,grace to obey these commandments of yours,and to persevere in praying dailyfor those who, in any way,have abused, cursed, hurt, or rejected me. I pray for those who hate me,for those who resent meand for those who have spoken ill of me.I beg you to bless them abundantlyand to pour into their heartssuch a profusion of healing merciesthat in them and around themlove will triumph over hatred,friendship over resentment,sweetness over bitterness,meekness over anger,and peace over enmity.I further ask you to extend these gracesto their families and to all whom they hold dear. In particular, I pray today for N. (and N.).I present him/her/themto Your Eucharistic Face,asking You to envelop him/her/them in Its healing radiance,dispelling whatever shadows of sinmay have darkened his/her/their mind(s)or hardened his/her their heart(s)in anger, hatred, or the refusal to forgive. For my part,with deep sorrow I confessthat I have sinned grievously against others,causing them pain and even endangering their souls.I pray you, O Merciful Jesus, to repair the evil I have done to othersand to heal the hurt I have inflicted on them.In particular, I acknowledge my sins against N. (and N.)imploring You to heal and repair the harm I have done him/her/them. I ask you so to penetrate my heartwith the charity of Your Pierced Heartthat I will be able to forgivethose who have offended me,to love them sincerely,and to desire for them all that will contribute to their true happiness inthis life and in the next. By means of a permanent intention,I desire to renew this prayerin every offering of Your Holy Sacrifice.Let the light of Your Eucharistic Faceshine in the hearts of all who harbourhatred or resentment toward me,to bring them healing and peace.Let Your Precious Bloodtriumph over evilin those against whom I have sinnedand in those who have sinned against me,so that, delivered from the shadowsof this valley of tears,we may one day praise Your Mercy togetherin the sweetness of a boundless charity.Amen.