Et qui vidit, testimónium perhíbuit
for Easter 2019
1. Et qui vidit, testimónium perhíbuit: et verum est testimónium ejus. Et ille scit, quia vera dicit: ut et vos credátis. He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth. (John 19: 35)
2. We hear these words of St. John, the Beloved Disciple, in the liturgy of Good Friday. They come at the end of his account of the Passion of Jesus. This is St. John, the Beloved Disciple, the one who stands with the mother of Jesus at the foot of the Cross. St. John therefore gives us his eyewitness account.
3. St. John tells us the reason for his testimony: “so that you also may believe”.
4. But, believe what? That Jesus died on the cross? If that was so, then the Gospels would end with this death on the cross. But, the Gospels do not end here. The Gospels continue beyond the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus. The Gospels testify to His Resurrection, His appearances, His Ascension, and beyond.
5. St. John gives us the answer my question in the last line of his Gospel: “these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in His Name” (John 20: 31).
6. It is this belief that we proclaim every Easter. It is this belief that we proclaim at every celebration of the Eucharist. It is this belief that we proclaim every time we act with love and understanding. It is this belief that roots and sustains us in our Christian discipleship.
7. And we are called like St. John to testify to this belief. As Christians every action we take, every thought we express proclaims our belief in Jesus as the Messiah, as the Risen Son of God. Or at least it should. And, we should be conscious that this is so. Our actions and our words either proclaim the love of God offered us through Jesus the Christ, or our actions and our words are a counter-witness to this belief.
8. The truth of the belief in Jesus as the Messiah, as the Son of God, is His Resurrection. Are we living witnesses to the Resurrection? Or do we testify that either the Resurrection is not true or that it has had no lasting effect?
9. As Catholics we venerate the saints as people who have been witnesses to the truth of the Resurrection. We also take the saints as models in living our faith. Each of the saints in his or her own way testified to the belief in Jesus as the Messiah, as the Risen Son of God. And, in so doing, they had “life in His Name”. One of these is St. John, the one who saw and believed, and had life in His Name.
10. We also have seen. Through our participation in the liturgy of the Church we see the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. We see; we are witnesses. And, in seeing we are called to belief, and we are sustained in this belief. And we are called to testify in our own way. We are called to testify so that others may also believe. We make our testimony with every action we take, and every thought we express.
11. Let us pray that, like St. John, the Beloved Disciple, our testimony in word and action may be true.
Given this 21th day of April, Easter Sunday, in the Year of Our Lord 2019, the fourteenth of my episcopate, at Toronto, Ontario.
Most Reverend J. Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Église Catholique Eucharistique-Eucharistic Catholic Church
Dominica Quarta in Quadragesima [Fourth (Lætare) Sunday in Lent]: March 31, 2019
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Eucharistic Catholic Church, Toronto
© Roger LaRade 2019
Galatians 4: 22 – 31, John 6: 1 - 15
Saint Augustine, Christ and the Fulfillment of the Law
“This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
This realization contained in today’s Gospel passage causes the Church to rejoice on this Fourth Sunday in Lent. This Sunday is known as “Lætare” Sunday. This title is taken from the first word of the Introit antiphon of today’s Mass: “Laetare, Jerúsalem, et convéntum fácite omnes qui dilígitis eam : gaudéte cum lætítia, qui in tristítia fuístis…”; “Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together all you who love her: rejoice with joy, you who have been in sorrow…”
All the chants of today’s Mass focus our attention on Jerusalem, on the New Jerusalem; that is, the Church, the people of God as followers of Jesus. At this time in Lent, we recognize that Easter is near, and we remember that in fact every Mass is Easter. And, we remember as well that, in every Mass, the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes – two primary symbols of the Eucharist – is every time repeated. This is the reality with which we are presented today. And this is why we are called to “Rejoice…”
This week, we find ourselves once again on the mountaintop, that “privileged place of divine revelation”. Today, we have, once again, a manifestation – an epiphany – of God’s love in the person of Jesus. At the Transfiguration, which we recalled two weeks ago, as it had been at the Baptism of Jesus, a voice from the cloud is heard saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved…” Let’s recall that the voice from the cloud is “a Jewish image of God’s presence”.
Today’s miracle of the five loaves and two fishes is akin to this experience. It also is a manifestation of Jesus’ divinity. Everything in this Gospel passage points to confessing Jesus as the Christ, as the long-awaited Messiah. This is summarized in the verse: “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” The voice of God finds an echo in the voice of those fed by Jesus. It is to this confession of faith that we have bound ourselves through our baptism; it is to this confession of faith that the Eucharist continually binds us.
There can be little doubt that this passage from the Gospel of Saint John is Eucharistic in nature, and so it focuses our attention on the core meaning of Jesus’ life and mission. In fact, later in this same chapter of Saint John’s Gospel, Jesus will speak to the biblical verse: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat”, what is known as the Eucharistic discourse. The multiplication of the loaves and fishes leads up to this discourse, prepares for it, if you will. The parallel to Moses, and to the sending of manna from heaven is what is being built upon. In the Book of Exodus, Chapter 16, we read that God said to the Hebrews during their escape from Egypt: “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you”. This is then recalled in Psalm 78: “God rained manna upon them for food and gave them heavenly bread”, and in Psalm 105: “…and with bread from heaven God satisfied them”. Jesus, in the multiplication of the five loaves and two fishes and in His Eucharistic discourse, tells us that He himself is this bread from heaven. He himself is the source and sustenance of our life in God: our Baptism and our Eucharist.
Saint Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo from 354 to 397 and one of the four Western Doctors of the Church, looks at the present Gospel passage with this in mind. He sees in the five loaves of bread the five books of Moses, the first five books of the Jewish scriptures, the five books of the Law. Saint Augustine notes that the five loaves are made of barley. He writes:
You know from the nature of barley that only with effort do we reach its inner fruit. For this is covered with a husk of chaff, and the chaff is so close fitting and tenacious that it is not easily removed.
Saint Augustine’s point is that getting to the marrow of the barley is not easy. And, the marrow of the barley, of course, is Jesus. Saint Augustine sees in this a further sign of the five loaves as representing the Old Testament Law. It signifies that God’s revelation in the Old Testament is not complete. The expected One is not yet fully revealed. Jesus breaks this open, as He breaks open and distributes the bread, and reveals the true nature of God’s love. This breaking open of the bread, of course, is but a sign of His breaking open His own body, of His sacrifice on the Cross.
“This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” When this is spoken by the people, they do not yet fully understand what they are saying. The understanding of their minds is still focused on the appearance of an earthly Messiah. And so, we read that “When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”
At every Mass, Jesus – the Infinite Love of God – gives Himself to us in the Eucharist as bread from heaven. Jesus feeds us with the food of God’s love for our lives. Do we force Jesus to “withdraw again to the mountain by himself” or do we fully confess that He “is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world”? As we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, may He become ever more present to us, may our belief be deepened, so that we may truly “Rejoice”.
 Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Third Edition, Edited by Michael D. Coogan (2001: Oxford University Press, Oxford).
 See Dr. Pius Parsch, The Church’s Year of Grace, Volume 2: Septuagesima to Holy Saturday (1953: Collegeville, MN.: The Liturgical Press), p. 216.
 Matthew by Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. in The Collegeville Bible Commentary, Dianne Bergant, C.S.A. & Robert J. Karris, O.F.M., General Editors (1989: The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN), p. 886.
 Ibid., p. 886.
 See The Gospel According to John by Bruce Vawter, C.M. in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Raymond E. Brown, S.S., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., and Roland E. Murphy, O.Carm., eds. (1968: Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ), p. 435-6.
 John by Neal M. Flanagan, O.S.M. in The Collegeville Bible Commentary, Dianne Bergant, C.S.A. & Robert J. Karris, O.F.M., General Editors (1989: The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN), p. 991.
 See The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Volume Two: From the First Sunday in Lent to the Sunday after the Ascension, translated and edited by M. F. Toal, D.D. (1964: Henry Regency Co., Chicago), p. 119-125.
[En français ci-dessous]
Dominica in Quinquagesima [Quinquagesima Sunday]: March 3, 2019
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Catholic Church, Toronto
© 2019 Roger LaRade
1 Corinthians 13: 1 -13, Luke 18: 31 - 43
“The Desire of our Heart”
We come today to the third and last Sunday of the pre-Lent season. We experience the following sequence in these three Sundays: God’s invitation to make Divinity present in our world; God’s gift of Love through grace as sustenance for us to carry out this invitation; and, God’s own sacrifice of Love as the model for realizing the great illumination of Divinity.
With today’s Mass, we find ourselves on the threshold of Lent. On Wednesday will begin the Lenten season by the imposition of blessed ashes on our foreheads, and next Sunday will be the First Sunday in Lent. On this threshold of the forty days leading to the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, we can see ourselves in the blind man of the Gospel, asking Jesus for renewed sight.
When I read the gospel just now, instead of reading “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”, I read “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us. On us. Indeed, in the blind man, we are to see ourselves. This Quinquagesima Sunday, we are called to focus on our areas of weakness through the motif of blindness. Our areas of weakness are those areas to which we are blind; they are those areas which are in need of illumination. The blind man of the Gospel shows us the way.
It is to Saint John Chrysostom, Eastern Doctor of the Church, Archbishop of Constantinople, who lived from 354 to 407, in his comments on this Gospel passage, says that “the blind man could not see the Light of Truth, but in his soul he could feel His Presence, and with the desire of his heart he laid hold of what his eye could not see.” I am struck by this phrase: “with the desire of his heart”. We can see in this that God requires nothing more than the desire of our hearts – that is, our love – to come to us. This thought leads me to a consideration of today’s first reading.
This passage of the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians “is one of the most sublime passages of the entire Bible.” In it we come to realize that “God’s love is the light within us, teaching us to see new values…” It is God’s love which is the most precious gift of all; and, it is God’s love which renews our sight and brings light to the dark spots, the areas of weakness, in our lives. And so, in today’s Mass we pray “that darkness may be scattered, and sins taken away; above all that there may be place in us for love, for love is light.” We could say that love is “the light to see as God sees…”
How does Saint Paul conceive of God’s love? This passage on love “is sandwiched in between the two chapters in which St. Paul criticizes and tries to regulate the prophesyings and speaking in tongues at Corinth.” This is the context for Saint Paul making his case for the superiority of love. He does so by putting love up against much more sensational manifestations of God’s presence; gifts of the Spirit that might well be the desire of the heart of believers. These could be gifts that would bring a person attention, prestige even. Saint Paul claims the place of prominence among the gifts of the Spirit for God’s love. Love is not sensational. More often than not, an act of love will not be noticed by many; it might even not be noticed by anyone. In describing the attributes of love, Saint Paul uses words that hardly inspire greatness. Love is patient and kind; it isn’t envious; it isn’t proud. Yet, this love is what brings light; it is what makes us see those areas in ourselves to which we are blind, or maybe those areas we would rather not see.
Is this love the desire of our heart? Is seeking the illumination brought about by Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection the desire of our heart? Is seeing as God sees the desire of our heart? Is loving as God loves the desire of our heart?
During the coming season of Lent, let us pray for the grace of the humility shown by the blind man. It is this humility – this cry of “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” which will enable see to see Jesus for who He is. It is this cry of “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” which will dispose our hearts to receive God’s love. It is this cry of “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” which will place us on the way of Jesus – the way of the Cross - so that we will feel His presence and make His sacrifice the desire of our hearts. During this Eucharist, let us pray that God will guide us by His light during our Lenten journey, that we may be led to proclaim with the blind man: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.
Dominica in Quinquagesima [Dimanche de la Quinquagésime]: le 3 mars 2019
Donné par Mgr Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Église catholique du Disciple bien-aimé, Toronto
© 2019 Roger LaRade
1 Corinthiens 13: 1 - 13, Luc 18: 31 - 43
« Le désir de notre cœur »
Nous arrivons aujourd'hui au troisième et dernier dimanche de la saison du pré-Carême. Nous faisons l'expérience de la séquence suivante durant ces trois dimanches: l'invitation de Dieu à faire la Divinité présente dans notre monde; le don de Dieu de l'amour par Sa grâce pour nous soutenir dans cette tâche, et, le sacrifice d’amour de Dieu comme modèle pour la réalisation de la grande illumination de la Divinité.
Avec la Messe d'aujourd'hui, nous nous trouvons au seuil du Carême; dimanche prochain sera le premier dimanche de Carême. Sur ce seuil des quarante jours menant à la souffrance, la mort et la résurrection de Jésus, nous pouvons nous voir dans l'aveugle de l'Évangile, demandant à Jésus une vue nouvelle.
Quand j'ai lu l'évangile il y a un instant, au lieu de lire « Jésus, Fils de David, aie pitié de moi » comme il est écrit, j’ai lis: « Jésus, Fils de David, aie pitié de nous. » De nous. En effet, l'aveugle c’est nous. Ce dimanche de la Quinquagésime, nous sommes appelés à nous concentrer sur nos points de faiblesse par le motif de la cécité. Nos points de faiblesse sont les choses en nous-mêmes dont nous sommes aveugles, ils sont les choses qui sont dans le besoin d’être éclairé. L'aveugle de l'Évangile nous montre le chemin.
Saint Jean Chrysostome, docteur de l'Église orientale, archevêque de Constantinople, qui a vécu de 354 à 407, dans ses commentaires sur ce passage de l'Évangile, dit que « l'aveugle ne pouvait pas voir la Lumière de la Vérité, mais dans son âme, il pouvait sentir Sa présence, et avec le désir de son cœur, il saisit ce que son œil ne pouvait pas voir. » Je suis frappé par cette phrase: « avec le désir de son cœur ». Nous pouvons discerner dans ce passage que Dieu n'exige rien de plus que le désir de nos cœurs – c’est-à-dire, notre amour - pour venir à nous. Cette pensée me conduit à un examen de la première lecture d'aujourd'hui.
Ce passage de la Première Lettre de saint Paul aux Corinthiens « est l'un des passages les plus sublimes de toute la Bible ». Ce passage nous aide à comprendre que « l'amour de Dieu est la lumière en nous, et nous apprend à voir de nouvelles valeurs ... » C’est l'amour de Dieu qui est le don le plus précieux de tous, et c'est l'amour de Dieu qui change notre regard et apporte la lumière aux endroits sombres, les points de faiblesse, dans notre vie. Alors, durant la Messe d'aujourd'hui, prions pour que « l'obscurité puisse être dispersés, et nos péchés pardonnés; surtout, qu'il puisse se faire un lieu en nous pour l'amour, car l'amour est la lumière ». On pourrait dire que l'amour est « la lumière pour voir comme Dieu voit ... »
Comment Saint Paul conçoit-il de l'amour de Dieu? Ce passage sur l'amour "est entre deux chapitres dans lesquels Saint Paul dénonce et cherche à réglementer les prophéties et l’extase des langues à Corinthe ». Tel est le contexte dans lequel Saint Paul fait son discours sur la supériorité de l'amour. Il le fait en comparant l'amour à des manifestations de la présence de Dieu beaucoup plus sensationnel; à des dons de l'Esprit qui pourrait bien être le désir de beaucoup de croyants. Il s’agit de dons qui porterait une attention personnelle, même le prestige. Saint Paul revendique la place de choix parmi les dons de l'Esprit pour l'amour de Dieu. L'amour n'est pas sensationnel. Plus souvent qu'autrement, un acte d'amour ne sera pas remarqué par beaucoup de gens, il pourrait même ne pas être remarqué par personne. En décrivant les attributs de l'amour, Saint Paul utilise des mots qui n’inspirent pas la grandeur. L'amour est patient et aimable, il n'est pas envieux; il n'est pas fier. Pourtant, cet amour est ce qui apporte la lumière, c'est ce qui nous fait voir les choses en nous-mêmes auxquelles nous sommes aveugles, ou peut-être pourrions-nous dire, les choses que nous préférerions ne pas voir.
Cet amour est-il le désir de notre cœur? La recherche de l'illumination crée par la souffrance, la mort et la résurrection de Jésus est-elle le désir de notre cœur? Voir comme Dieu voit, est-ce le désir de notre cœur? Aimer comme Dieu aime est-il le désir de notre cœur?
Au cours de la saison du Carême, prions pour la grâce de l'humilité manifestée par l'aveugle. C'est cette humilité – ce cri de « Jésus, Fils de David, aie pitié de moi » qui nous permettra de voir Jésus pour ce qu'Il est. C'est ce cri de « Jésus, Fils de David, aie pitié de moi », qui va disposer nos cœurs à recevoir l'amour de Dieu. C'est ce cri de « Jésus, Fils de David, aie pitié de moi » qui nous place sur le chemin de Jésus – le Chemin de la Croix – pour que nous puissions sentir Sa présence et faire de Son sacrifice le désir de nos cœurs.
Au cours de cette Eucharistie, nous prions pour que Dieu nous guide par Sa lumière au cours de notre chemin du Carême, que nous puissions être amenés à proclamer avec l'aveugle: Jésus, Fils de David, aie pitié de moi.
 The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Volume One: From the First Sunday of Advent to Quinquagesima, translated and edited by M. F. Toal, D.D. (1964: Henry Regency Co., Chicago), p. 415.
 Richard Kugelman, C.P., The First Letter to the Corinthians in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Raymond E. Brown, S.S., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., and Roland E. Murphy, O.Carm., eds. (1968: Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ), p. 271.
 For development of these thoughts, see Aemiliana Löhr, The Mass Through the Year, Volume One – Advent to Palm Sunday (1958: Longmans, Green & Co Ltd, London), p. 117.
 R. A. Knox, M.A., The Epistles and Gospels for Sundays & Holidays (1946: Burns, Oates and Washbourne, London), p. 83.
Dominica in Sexagesima [Sexagesima Sunday]: February 24, 2019
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Catholic Church, Toronto
© 2019 Roger LaRade
2 Corinthians 11: 19 - 12: 9, Luke 8: 4-15
Discipleship: Being in love with Jesus
Today is Sexagesima Sunday, that is, the sixtieth day before Easter.
Last Sunday, the Gospel reading invited us to work in the Lord’s vineyard, that is, in the Church, in the world. Next Sunday, we will be called to recognize that deeper enlightenment and the promise of eternal life come only through sacrifice. Today, we are urged to be fertile ground for God’s word – God’s grace – sowed in our hearts.
So, we have the following sequence in these three Sundays: God’s invitation to make Divinity present in our world; God’s gift of grace as sustenance for us to carry out this invitation; and, God’s own sacrifice as the model for realizing the great illumination of Divinity and coming into eternal life with God.
In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus clearly explains the meaning of the parable of the Sower to us: the seed is the word of God, the field is the world, the birds are demons, and the thorns, riches. Our aim then is not so much to explain the parable but rather to draw meaning from it for us as disciples of Jesus. To do so, we once again turn to St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Confessor [540-603], one of the four great western Doctors of the Church.
St. Gregory writes that the “words of God which you receive by your ear, hold fast in your heart”.[i] This is the essential meaning for us of the words of Jesus. It is the essential meaning also of our reception of Jesus; what we hear, our experience of Jesus, must go from an encounter (hearing, experiencing) to a relationship of love (holding in our hearts). It is insufficient for us to simply read the Scriptures, or a book on spirituality or theology, in order for us to come to a deepening of faith. Our reading may be a beginning, it may be seed for our on-going journey, but it is not sufficient in and of itself, for our following of Jesus. What is required for our discipleship in faith to take hold, and to deepen, in us, is a relationship of love with Jesus. The words which we read, the story which we learn must transform within our hearts into love of Jesus.
St. Gregory, following the parable, indicates that there are many factors which mitigate this process of transformation, this process of our coming to faith and growing in our love of Jesus. He writes:
Strive then that the words you hear, may remain in the ear of your soul. Strive that the seed fall not by the way side; lest an evil spirit should come and steal the word out of your memory. Take care that the seed fall not on stony ground sending forth fruit of good works, but without the roots of perseverance. For what they hear in instructions is indeed pleasing to many people, and they set about the beginning of good works; but soon being wearied by the afflictions that come to them, they abandon the good they have begun.[ii]
I found these words of St. Gregory to be very striking. I think that they are particularly applicable to the context of our small, self-governing church jurisdictions. The zeal which is to be found in many who have a desire for ministry and start ministry often meets up with many practical difficulties. The rewards are often not very immediate, and when they are immediate they often do not last. There are many ups and downs. The needed support and encouragement, as well as the financial resources, available to ministers of the larger denominations are not ours to be had. The required training – both academic and spiritual – along with the crucial slow, patient growth in a personal relationship with Jesus is lacking, sometimes non-existent. And so, when the expected ‘success indicators’ don’t come about, the initial zeal is replaced by discouragement; a discouragement which sometimes leads to giving up of ministry or to a search for greener pastures. This is seed falling on stony ground. We must become aware of this potential in ourselves as well as in others.
Only the honest self-examination proposed by St. Gregory in his homily for Septuagesima Sunday, which we reflected upon last Sunday, can help guard us against this tendency. This self-examination, along with efforts to provide for ourselves the necessary foundations of prayer and study, as well as spiritual guidance and support, are the watering of the stony ground. We must see to it that we develop in ourselves the proper dispositions for ministry, developing in our souls the virtues of humility and patience, which will foster in us a deepening trust in Divine Providence. We must see to it that we develop in ourselves the proper foundation for ministry, a relationship of love with Jesus. We must always attend to providing the stony ground with sufficient moisture to provide a welcoming and growthful medium for the seed of God’s word in our souls.
We must not enter ministry, or continue in ministry – that to which God called us in last Sunday’s Gospel – out of a desire for rewarding experiences, for adulation, for comfort; out of a desire for what Jesus calls ‘riches’. These riches, as St. Gregory observes, choke the word “because by their burthensome preoccupations they as it were strangle the throat of the soul; for as long as they do not allow entry to any good desires, they cut off the entry of the life-giving air”.[iii]
As we prepare for our Lenten pilgrimage with Jesus, let us carefully examine our motivations for ministry; let us bring to mind through prayer the continuing foundation and reward of our ministry, of our discipleship of Jesus: a relationship of love with Jesus. Let us ask ourselves the following questions. What in us is stony ground? How can we bring moisture to whatever is stony ground within us, and around us? What is strangling our deepening relationship to Jesus? How can we allow life-giving air to enter our discipleship of Jesus?
[i] PL 74, 1131 in The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers; Volume One: From the First Sunday of Advent to Quinquagesima. Translated and edited by M. F. Toal, D.D.(Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1964), pp. 399 - 403.
[ii] Ibid., p. 400.
[iii] Ibid., p. 401.
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