Dominica Vigesima Tertia Post Pentecosten [Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost]: October 23, 2016 [Blessed Josephine Leroux, VM/Saint Anthony Marie Claret]
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, OFA
Beloved Disciple Catholic Church, Toronto
© 2016 Roger LaRade
Philippians 3: 17-21; 4. 1-3; Matthew 9: 18-26.
“Lives of peace and love.”
Today, we celebrate the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, this on the 23rd of October; a fact that seems worth mentioning.
In addition to the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, we also commemorate in today’s Mass Blessed Josephine Leroux, a Poor Clare, and later Ursuline, martyr of the French Revolution, a commemoration which brings to mind secular governments and conditions which prohibit religious faith.
We also commemorate Saint Anthony Marie Claret, a Catalan, who was archbishop of Santiago de Cuba in the mid-1800s. He also suffered at the hands of political revolution late in his life, when, having returned to his native Spain to be confessor to Queen Isabella II, he was banished when she was deposed.
These commemorations seem very appropriate given that we today mission Mother Silvia de la Fe Gonzalez, O.F.A. to her native Cuba, there to lead our Franciscan Mission of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, to thereby minister God’s Infinite Love. The words of today’s Gospel passage, “Courage, O daughter”, may be the best prayer we can offer for her as we send her out with our prayers and blessing.
Several years ago I added to my meditations a set of wonderful and traditional reflections for prayer contained in the book Divine Intimacy by Carmelite Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen. This book of prayer has unfortunately been discarded since the changes to the Liturgical Calendar brought about by the Second Vatican Council. This is unfortunate given the riches which these reflections contain. I have occasionally used Father Gabriel’s reflections as a basis for my homilies, as I do today.
The Introit of this Sunday’s Mass puts our efforts at living this vocation in proper perspective. Through the Gregorian chant setting of the Introit we heard these words: The Lord says: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. You shall call upon Me and I will hear you, and I will bring back your captivity from all places.
“You shall call upon Me and I will hear you.” These are words that I recall every time I go to Confession or hear someone’s Confession. “You shall call upon Me and I will hear you.” Our efforts at living lives of faithful peace and love are rooted in God’s love for us, a love which does not reject us when our efforts are lukewarm or when we utterly act contrary to our Faith. God remains and continues to invite us back. God continues to invite us to continued conversion. And conversion is always rooted in humility and the sincere acknowledgement of our weakness and failings, of our often divided loyalties. This is the foundation of the Sacrament of Confession. With Saint Paul in the Epistle reading today, we can affirm: Jesus Christ will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory.
Today’s Gospel speaks to this “reform”, this transformation, this conversion, which God desires to accomplish in us; and it shows us how this transformation comes about when we approach Jesus with a humble and trustful heart. In the woman troubled with an issue of blood we have a person who is ashamed and humiliated and who does not dare, like the other sick persons, to go directly to Jesus. But she has faith in the healing, transforming power of Jesus: If I shall touch only His garment, I shall be healed. Jesus notices the light touch and turning around says: Be of good heart, daughter, your faith has made you whole.
“Your faith has made you whole.”
The woman had not said a word to Jesus; she had not presented herself in front of Him; she has not demanded anything of Him. She simply reached out to Jesus, humbly recognizing her own need, with faith in the healing power of Jesus. We should recognize in this woman ourselves, see in her motivation our own need for healing, perceive in her action the humble and trusting faith required for our own transformation. We are often “content to pray with our lips while our hearts are cold and distant; Jesus, however, looks to the heart; He wants the prayer of the heart, a cry of humility and confidence, a cry which goes straight to His own divine Heart.” This is the disposition which leads to inner transformation; there is no other way to authentic conversion.
As the woman reaches out and touches the hem of Jesus’ garment, so too we reach out to Jesus in Holy Communion. But whereas she touched the hem of His garment only once, we can be united to Jesus daily through Holy Communion. With a humble and trusting disposition, Jesus turns toward us to heal and transform us, to deepen in us a life of peace and love. As is pointed out in the second miracle of today’s Gospel, Jesus indeed is our Resurrection, but “not only for our eternal life when, at a signal from Him, our body will rise glorious and be reunited to our soul; but He is our Resurrection even in this life: our Resurrection from the death of sin to the life of grace, our Resurrection from a lukewarm life to a fervent and holy life.”
Let us pray, through the intercession of Franciscan Blessed Josephine Leroux and Saint Anthony Marie Claret that we may draw near to Jesus with the humility and confidence of the woman cured of the issue of blood. Let us beg Him with all our hearts to realize in us His designs of love, by drawing us away from our lukewarmness of faith and our divided loyalties, that we may be graced with a renewed trusting commitment to His love for us.
In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
 Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1996).
 Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1996)., p. 1057.
 Ibid., p. 1057.
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