Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
SUNDAY IN LENT
This Sunday, called Judica
from the first word of the Introit, is also called Passion Sunday,
because from this day the Church occupies herself exclusively with
the contemplation of the passion and death of Christ. The pictures
of Christ crucified are covered today in memory of his having hidden
Himself from the Jews until His entrance into Jerusalem, no longer
showing Himself in public. (John XI. 54.) In the Mass the Glory
be to the Father, etc. is omitted, because in the person of Christ
the Holy Trinity was dishonored. The psalm Judica is not said today,
because on this day the high priests held council about our Lord,
for which reason the Church in the name of the suffering Saviour
uses these words at the Introit:
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is
not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man, for Thou
art my God and my strength. Send forth thy light and thy truth:
they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into
thy tabernacles. (Ps. XLII. 1. 3.)
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, graciously to look upon Thy
family; that by Thy bounty it may be governed in body, and by Thy
protection be guarded in mind. Through, &c.
(Heb. IX. 11-15.) Brethren, Christ being come, a high-priest of
the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle,
not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the
blood of goats or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once
into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the
blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled,
sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh, how
much more shall the blood of Christ, who, by the Holy Ghost, offered
himself without spot to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works,
to serve the living God? And therefore he is the Mediator of the
new testament; that by means of his death, for the redemption of
those trangressions which were under the former testament; they
that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
St. Paul here teaches, that Christ as the true high-priest of the
New Testament, through His precious blood on the altar of the cross,
has indeed rendered perfect satisfaction for sins, but that the
sinner must also do his own part, by cooperating with Christ to
make himself less unworthy of participating in His passion and merits,
and to appropriate to himself its fruits. This is done when he diligently
and devoutly assists at the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass, by which
the fruits of the death on the cross are attributed to us; when,
according to the will of the Church, he purifies his conscience
by true contrition and confession; and when he seeks by trust in
Christ's merits to render some satisfaction for his sins through
voluntary penance and faithful following of Christ.
Grant us, O meek Jesus, Thy grace, that through perfect sorrow for
our sins and the exercise of good works we may become participators
in the merits of Thy bitter passion.
(John VIII. 46-59.) At that time, Jesus said to the multitudes of
the Jews: Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth
to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth the
words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of
God. The Jews therefore answered, and said to him: Do not we say
well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered:
I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and you have dishonored
me. But I seek not my own glory; there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
Amen, amen, I say to you, if any-man keep my word, he shall not
see death for ever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou
hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest:
If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever. Art
thou greater than our Father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets
are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify
myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me,
of whom you say that he is your God. And you have not known him;
but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall
be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word.
Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it,
and was glad. The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty
years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen,
amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up
stones therefore to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went
out of the temple.
did Christ ask the Jews, which of them should convince Him of sin?
To show us that he who would
teach and punish others, should strive to be irreproachable himself;
and to prove that He, being free from sin, was more than mere man,
and therefore, the Messiah, the Son of God, as He repeatedly told
the Jews, especially in this day's gospel, and substantiated by
His great and numerous miracles.
did He say: He that is of God, heareth the words of God?
To prove that the Jews on
account of their stubbornness and unbelief were not the children
of God, but of the devil. "Therefore," St. Gregory says,
"let every one when he hears the word of God, ask himself,
of whom he is. Eternal truth demands that we be desirous of the
heavenly fatherland, that we tame the desires of the flesh, be indifferent
to the praises of the world, covet not our neighbor's goods, and
give alms according to our means. Therefore examine yourself, and
if you find in your heart this voice of God, then you will know
that you are of God."
When Christ told the Jews
the truth, He received insults and calumny; they called Him a Samaritan,
that is, an unbeliever, a heretic, one possessed of a devil. This
was a terrible slander, and it must have pained Him exceedingly,
but at the same time it is a great consolation to those who are
innocently calumniated, when they consider that Christ Himself received
nothing better. St. Augustine consoles such by saying: "O friend,
what is there that can happen to you that your Saviour did not suffer
before you? Is it slander? He heard it, when He was called a glutton,
a drunkard, a heretic, and a rebel, a companion of sinners, one
possessed of a devil; He even heard, when casting out devils, that
He did so by Beelzebub, prince of devils." (Matt. IX. 34.)
He therefore comforts His apostles, saying, If they have called
the good man of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household?
(Matt, X. 25.) Are the pains bitter? There is no pain so bitter
that He has not endured it; for what is. more painful, and at the
same time more ignominious, than the death of the cross? For think,
says St. Paul, diligently upon him who endured such opposition from
sinners against himself: that you be not wearied (by all contempt
and calumny), fainting in your minds. (Heb. XII. 3.)
and why did Christ defend Himself against those who slandered Hate?
Only by denying with the
greatest modesty the things with which they reproached Him, saying
that He had not a devil, that He was not a Samaritan, because He
honored His Father not in their manner, but in His own. In repelling
this calumny while He left the rest unanswered, Christ removed all
doubt in regard to His divine mission, thus vindicating the honor
of God, and securing the salvation of man. Christ thus teaches us
by His own conduct to defend ourselves only against those detractions
and insults which endanger the honor of God and the salvation of
man, and then to defend ourselves with all modesty; by no means
however to do it, if they injure only our own good name, for we
should leave the restoration of that to God, as exemplified by Christ,
who knows better than we how to preserve and restore it.
Instruction on the Epistle of the third Sunday after Epiphany.]
had Abraham seen Christ's day?
In spirit, that is, by. divine
revelation he foresaw the coming of Christ and rejoiced; also, he
heard, by revelation from God, with the other just in Limbo, that
Christ's coming had taken place, and derived the greatest comfort
did Christ conceal Himself from the Jews, instead of taking vengeance?
Because the time of His death
had not come; because He would show His meekness and patience and
teach us that we should avoid our enemies rather than resist them
or take vengeance on them; Christ wished to instruct us to avoid
passionate and quarrelsome people, for it is an honor for a man,
to separate from quarrels: but all fools are meddling with reproaches.
(Prov. XX. 3.)
When Thine enemies calumniated Thee, most meek Jesus, Thou didst
answer them with tender words, and when they were about to stone
Thee, Thou didst depart from them, whilst we can scarcely bear a
hard word, and far from yielding to our neighbor, defend and avenge
ourselves most passionately. Ah! pardon us our impatience, and grant
us the grace to bear patiently the wrongs done us, and when necessary,
answer with gentleness for Thy glory and the salvation of our neighbor.