Dominica in Albis in Octava Paschæ [Sunday in White/Low Sunday]/Divine Mercy Sunday: April 28, 2019
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Eucharistic Catholic Church - Toronto
1 John 5, 4 - 10; John 20, 19 - 31.
“My Lord and my God!”
Eight days ago we gathered to celebrate the feast of Easter, the greatest feast of the Christian year. Throughout the week, the Church has presented us in the Gospel reading at daily Mass the different post-Resurrection apparitions of Christ. We are there for six of these apparitions.1 On Monday we were with the disciples from Emmaus who finally recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread after not having recognized him while he joined them and talked with them on their journey. On Tuesday, the apostles and the disciples “touched” Jesus and ate with Him on the first Easter evening. Jesus appeared to us on Wednesday on the shores of the Lake of Genesareth when He invited the seven apostles to a meal of fish and bread. On Thursday, we were with Mary Magdalene “who with love and longing sought and found her Saviour.”2 And then, on Friday, we were in the crowd of disciples and we saw the Risen Christ on the mountain in His last apparition. Christ tells us, “I am with you all days…” Today, we are at the sixth apparition, with the Apostles, and more particularly, with Thomas. Today, we are called to touch the Risen Christ and, with Thomas, to also say, “My Lord and my God!”
Liturgically, this Sunday is known as Dominica in albis, that is, the Sunday in white. This name comes from the early Church when those who had been baptized at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, wore all through the Octave of Easter the white garment with which they had been robed at their Baptism; going to Mass on each of the eight days in procession, wearing the white garment. Their visibility throughout the Octave “was a living sermon reminding all that as Christians they had risen with Christ to a new life on Easter.”3 It was on the Saturday after Easter, that is, yesterday, that they took off their white garments and put them in the church’s wardrobe. On the following day, the First Sunday after Easter – today – they attended Mass for the first time in their ordinary clothes, a sign of being full members of the Church.
This tradition is quite important to our understanding the message of Easter for us today. From the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday at which the Baptisms happen to the daily Masses of the Octave of Easter, the liturgical celebrations of the Easter season focus our faith on the core elements of our belief: the Resurrection of Christ and our Baptism into that Mystery. These two elements of our faith as Christians are inextricably bond together. A commentator, in fact, has written that “the second complements the first, while the first is the symbol and cause of the second.”4 We can see Baptism, our Baptism, as the Resurrection of Jesus in our soul. Indeed, Baptism marks us as followers of Christ, as Christians, as believers in His Resurrection, as sharers in His Resurrection. This Baptism forms in us, in an ongoing way, the desire to proclaim the Risen Christ as “My Lord and my God!”
As Jesus calls Thomas to touch Him, to touch His wounds, so too Jesus calls each one of us to touch him and to confess Him as “My Lord and my God!” The Church’s focus on the apparitions of the Risen Christ during this Octave are meant to cultivate in us a deeper sense of the Resurrection and of the Risen Christ’s continuing presence in and among us; so close, in fact, that we can touch Him. This we can do in our private prayer, in our meditation and contemplation. This we can do in our communal prayer. This we can do in our daily encounters with the people with whom we live and work.
But, this we do especially in the Mass. For it is in the Mass, in our reception of the Body of Christ, that we can most intimately touch the Risen Christ. The infant faith we professed at our Baptism needs to be nurtured in the encounter with the Risen Christ at every Mass. It is in receiving the Body of Christ at Communion that we touch His wounds. In so doing, we bring our own wounds to Him, attach them to Him and He in return attaches Himself to us, taking our wounds into the wounds of His resurrected body.
The faith which we receive at Baptism as infants grows through our bringing our woundedness to the Risen Christ as He becomes present at Mass. Here, as the bread and wine are brought to the altar, we bring also the stuff which makes up our lives, and in particular that which is painful to bear, that which may make it difficult to believe. Here, as the Risen Christ continues His apparitions, He calls us to touch and see, and to believe in the power of His resurrected presence in our lives.
On this day, let us reaffirm our faith in the abiding presence of the Risen Christ in His Church, and together, let us confess, “My Lord and my God!”
1 See Dr. Pius Parsch, The Church’s Year of Grace, Volume 3: Easter to Pentecost (1963: The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN), p. 3.
2 Ibid., p. 3.
3 Ibid., p. 50.
4 Ibid., p. 2
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.
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