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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Homily - Septuagesima Sunday - January 24, 2016

I Cor. 9:24-27, 10:1-5; Mt. 20:1-16

As you may know, Easter is early this year, March 27th.  Today is Septuagesima, seventy days before Easter.  The traditional missal gives us three pre-lenten Sundays to prepare for lent.  Historically, lent was the time of proximate preparation of the catechumens for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist which they received at the Easter Vigil.  If you have ever looked at the traditional missal, the first part of the Mass, from the prayers at the foot of the altar through the sermon, is called the Mass of the Catechumens.  They were introduced to the Mass, and were instructed by the epistle and gospel, but they were not yet ready to be admitted to the Eucharist, so they were dismissed.  The Mass from the Creed to the end is called the Mass of the Faithful.

This reality is embedded in the epistle and gospel today, as it is the beginning of the pre-lenten season.  It is as if the catechumens are present, and the epistle refers to the Old Testament type of the sacraments they were preparing to receive.  St. Paul says of the Exodus, they were all baptized in Moses.  Passing through the waters of the Red Sea from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land, is a type for our baptism by water, whereby we pass from slavery to sin to the new life of grace.  St. Paul remembers the manna, the bread which fell from heaven each day, which our Lord Himself refers to as a type for the living Bread He gives, and that Moses struck the rock and they had water.  St. Paul says the rock was Christ.  The column of fiery cloud led the people, like the light of the Holy Ghost, which we receive in confirmation.  The catechumens would have recognized themselves in this, and the time they were beginning of their intense preparation during lent for the sacraments.

Similar is the Gospel, with those who come early in the day, and those who come late, and all receive the same daily wage, our redemption, our salvation.  Some of us have come early to the faith, some later.  Our Lord tells this parable so that those who have come late will not lose their fervor.  But there is a sense in which everyone has come late.  Some have come early, have fallen away, and returned.  Sometimes, God gives us new light to see something we need to work on.  Sometimes, we realize just how hard our hearts are, and we are beginning.  The point is that all of the workers in the parable today, whether early or late, presented themselves.  Wherever we are, we start where we stand, the time is now, and God’s grace is whole and entire for us.

The one thing we want to do as we hear these readings is to resolve to be present to the Lenten season.  There is a story which follows the style of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.  It seems the devil is instructing the young demons about how to derail the spiritual lives of people of faith, and he asks them for their ideas.  One raises his hand and says, “Tell them there’s no heaven.”  The devil says, “No, they’re too smart for that.  A crisis comes up, they all turn to the hope of heaven.”  Another raises his hand, and the devil calls on him, and he says, “Tell them there’s no hell.”  And the devil says, “No, they’re too smart for that, too.  They want to believe there is no hell, but, in a moment of weakness, it becomes a deterrent to sin.”  Then, a little demon way in the back raises his hand, and the devil calls on him, and he says, “Tell them there’s no hurry.”  And the devil just smiled.

The foul spirits say, “There is no hurry.”  But what does St. Paul say?  “Today is the day of salvation, now is the time.”  There are many things which compete for our attention, many good things, many important things.  But, for these coming weeks, we want to make lent the most important thing we do.  Because early or late, the time is now.  And our reward?  That coin, the whole wage which has been paid for us, the gift of our salvation.