Basic Information

Mass Location: St. Mary Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Mass Time: Sunday 10 a.m. (check parish website bulletin for special feastdays which may be different)
Confessions: 9:00-9:45 a.m. - see schedule below

Monday, February 16, 2015

Homily - Quinquagesima Sunday - February 15, 2015

1 Cor. 13:1-13; Lk. 18:31-43

The beauty of the 1962 Missal gives us three pre-Lenten Sundays.  Two weeks ago, the Gospel gave us the householder who hires workers at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, and each received the same daily wage.  God gives His all, no matter when we come to faith or when we turn to Him.  Last Sunday, we had the farmer who plants the seed.  He works hard, going out day after day, tilling the soil, watering it, and doesn’t see anything for a long time.  He is a man of faith.  He knows that beneath the surface, something powerful and mysterious and not his own is taking place.  God gives the growth, and in one day, the whole field rises.  We believe in the sufficiency of God’s grace, as St. Paul says of the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  God gives us the grace that we need, He gives it to us when we need it.

Today, Quinquagesima Sunday, approximately 50 days before Easter, we recall that God gives us understanding.  In the Gospel, He announces the cross, the source of our faith and a recurring theme in the Lenten Season.  He does this to prepare the apostles.  He knows they will be shaken.  But there is also a theological meaning to this.  It is not that our Lord is somehow caught by the evils of this world and crucified.  No, he hands his life over willingly as an oblation for the sins of the world and every person.  In the Gospel of John, He says, “No one takes my life from me.  I hand it over.”

But the apostles do not understand.  We cannot blame them too much.  This was the promised Messiah, from whom they expected a great display of power.  He would give it to them, but not in the way they expected.  And they had not yet received the Pentecost gift of the Holy Ghost, Who will give them understanding.  They will, but for now, they do not understand.  So our Lord does something to show that He will give the understanding.  He heals a blind man.  Just as He can give spiritual sight, He can give spiritual sight.

The readings show us how the Lord gives us understanding.  We begin with the Epistle, where St. Paul speaks of the merits of love, because this is where God starts with us.  St. John the Evangelist, in one of his epistles, says, “It is not that we have loved God but that God has first loved us.”  At the hermitage where I used to make my annual retreat, there was a sign on the wall which said, “As for earthly things, first we know them then we love them.  As for heavenly things, first we love them then we know them.”  God made us out of love, for Him.  We all have people who ask us about our faith or challenge us.  I have come to understand not to start with the tenets of our faith.  Howe can someone believe in a God who they don’t know loves them?  People who love each other reveal themselves to each other.  So we love God because He has first loved us, and He reveals Himself to us.  First we love Him, then we know Him.  We begin to see in our lives not a random series of events but the Providence of a loving God.  Even our sufferings, which we do not always understand, become a moment of union with the Lord in His cross and resurrection, a communion with Him in love.

Faith is also a way that we know Him.  In the Gospel, the blind man asks who is passing by and they tell him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  This is our Lord’s earthly name.  The blind man must have heard of him, because he is a man of faith.  We know this because he calls him by his messianic name, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”  And Jesus stops.  If you ever want Jesus to stop for you—and we know He stops for us—but show Him your faith.  He cannot resist.  When Our Lord sees faith, He stops, and wonderful things happen.  The Lord asks him what he wants.  He says, “Lord, that I may see.”  He is given His sight.  He is able to see our Lord.  And wonderfully the Gospel says he followed Him on the way.  The Lord gives us spiritual sight, understanding, and the grace then to follow Him as His disciples.  In the Gospels, the pharisees ask our Lord for a sign, and then they will believe.  But the signs were all around them, only they could not see.  First comes faith, and then we see Him everywhere.

This is verified in the Gospels.  After our Lord’s resurrection, who did He appear to, but the people who loved Him, the people who had faith in Him, the women, the disciples.  Did He appear to Pilate, to Herod, to Caiaphas?  No.  He could have, to prove Himself to them, but that is the way of man not the way of God.  He came to invite us to love Him and to have faith in Him, and then He reveals Himself to us.

So, in the Epistle, St. Paul tells us there are three gifts that last, faith, hope, and love.  We love God, we believe in Him, and then He gives us something that only He can give.  He gives us hope.