Dominica Decima Quarta Post Pentecosten [Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost]: August 21, 2016
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Eucharistic Catholic Church, Toronto
© 2016 Roger LaRade
Gal. 5: 16 - 24; Matthew 6: 24 – 33.
“Living in God’s Presence”
The Psalm passage which we hear in the Introit at the beginning of today’s Mass sets the tone for our celebration today. It is from one of the most beautiful psalms in the psalter.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
To the living God. (Ps. 84: 1 – 2, NRSV)
Jesus, in the Gospel passage, echoes the words of Psalm 84. In the Psalm we read:
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God. (Ps. 84: 3, NSRV)
Often in contemplative prayer, this Psalm is used to foster an intimate experience of God’s presence in our lives and to facilitate a feeling of our ultimate dependence on our God. And so today, we celebrate the wonder of being in God’s presence. We do so by reaffirming our desire to live lives centered on God’s presence in our heart and in our world.
At the Offertory of the Mass, we will offer the holy Sacrifice. In this action we desire to unite ourselves to the offering of Christ. As we do so, let’s remember that the Altar of Sacrifice is Christ Himself, Christ who is the ruler of God’s realm; what in many Bible translations is rendered as the word ‘kingdom’. This ‘realm’ is God’s presence.
The Altar, indeed, is the throne of Christ; and it is the centre of God’s realm. This is why in traditional Catholic churches, the Tabernacle also is on the Altar: the two are the One. We come before the Altar to offer our worship, and to pledge our life to Christ. This pledge of our life I believe has two elements to it. The first is our desire to deepen our interior sense of God’s presence in our heart; and, the second is our desire to act in ways which show our union with God through Christ. I believe that the Epistle and Gospel readings of today’s Mass call us to both these elements, and help us to realize that, indeed, one cannot exist without the other.
Traditionally, this Sunday has been known as “Divine Providence Sunday” because of the Gospel passage. In this Gospel passage, Jesus encourages us to have a loving trust in divine Providence. We hear Jesus tell us not to worry about our lives but rather to feel secure in God’s hands, knowing that God loves us and cares for us. Then, out of this faith in God’s loving care, out of this life of trust in the Holy Spirit, out of this desire to live in God’s presence, we can go forth and live lives marked by the fruit of the Spirit. It is St. Paul who speaks of this as he addresses the Galatians:
…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5: 22 – 23, NRSV)
Continually God calls us to trust God’s loving care for us. Continually God calls us, as God does all of creation, to dwell in God’s realm. This brings to mind the oft-quoted saying of St. Augustine: “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in You.” And so we search often elsewhere, thinking, hoping, that something other than God will bring us rest and joy and peace and fulfillment. But nothing seems to. We often come to this realization after many bitter disappointments. And, continually God is present to us, re-welcoming us into God’s presence, calling us into God’s presence, into God’s loving care. God’s pledge of this is Christ Jesus, continually with us, continually offered for our sake on the Altars of the world.
Our sharing in the Eucharist is to grow in our trust of God’s loving care for us, in Divine Providence, to grow in our awareness of living in God’s realm, in God’s kingdom.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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