Sunday XXIII Post Pentecost: Missa “Dicit Dóminus”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus confounds the Pharisees, His enemies, who more than ever are compassing His ruin. His reply is full of divine wisdom. The Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians illustrates how destruction is the end of those who are enemies of the Cross, and those who laughed and derided our Lord have discovered this only too well. It is left to the Church to counsel all that Christ means what He says and, refreshingly in light of Vatican II-speak ambiguity, says what He means.
The Time after Pentecost is the symbol of the Church’s long pilgrimage towards heaven, the last stages of which are described in prophetic language on these closing Sunday’s of the season. Quite naturally, the breviary lessons during November are taken from the major and minor prophets who foretell the events which will mark the end of the world.
After the Jews had been carried captive into Babylon, Jeremias wandered among the ruins of Jerusalem, uttering his lamentations. “Regard, O Lord, how doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! How is the mistress of the Gentiles become as a widow… Weeping she hath wept in the night and her tears are on her cheeks” (2nd response for the first Sunday in November). But he goes on to foretell the twofold coming of the Messias who will restore all things. “The Lord hath redeemed His people and delivered them; and they shall come and give praise in Mount Sion, and they shall flow together to the good tidings of the Lord” (Jeremias xxxi, 11, 12).
Among those who had been carried captive into Babylon was a priest named Ezechiel who had foretold the captivity which was to overtake Israel. “The end is come, the end is come,… Now I will pour my wrath out upon the… and I will judge the according to thy ways… neither will I show mercy” (Ezechiel vi, 6-8). Later, when in exile, he prophesied further. “Our iniquities and our sins are upon us… how can we live? Say to them: As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways: and why will you die, o house of Israel?” (Ezechiel xxiii, 10, 11).
In one vision almighty God showed the prophet the future Temple established on a high mountain, pointing out to him how perfect would be the worship He would expect from His people when He had gathered them once more to the eternal hills of Sion.
Again, Daniel, also one of the captives in Babylon, explained Nabuchodonosor’s dream in the sense that the little stone which became a great mountain after having overturned the statues of Gold, Silver, Iron and Clay is a symbol of Christ Whose kingdom shall supersede all kingdoms and last forever. Among the Minor Prophets Osee is the one of whom most use is made in the official worship of the Church (in the fourth Week in November). He foretold that God would bring to an end the kingdom of the House of Israel, and that it would be said to a people that was not His people: “Ye are the sons of the living God. And the children of Israel and the children of Juda shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint themselves one head.” “These words,” says St. Augustine, “are a prophecy concerning the Gentiles, who at first, did not belong to God. And since the people of the Gentiles is also spiritually of the number of Abraham’s servants, and by this title are called Israelites, the prophet adds: “The children of Israel and the children of Juda shall be gathered together and they shall appoint themselves one Head.” We think, naturally, of Christ as the corner-stone and of the two walls, one composed of the Jews and the other of the Gentiles, the first called Juda, and the second Israel; both resting on the same foundation and rising on the same ground.
As for those Israelites according to the flesh who at present will not accept Christ, the same prophet foretells that one day they will believe in Him, that is not they themselves (since they will have gone to their own place) but their children. This Osee asserts in so many words when he says: “The children of Israel shall sit many days without king and without prince and without sacrifice and without altar and without therapim” (Osee iii, 4). Who does not see that this is the state of the Jews at the present time?” (Third nocturn, fourth Week).
All this is shown forth in today’s Mass. Interpreting the story in the Gospel of the cure of the woman with the issue of blood and the raising of Jairus’ daughter, St. Jerome says: “When the ruler begs Jesus to raise his daughter from the dead, an eighth miracle begins. But lo! a woman, troubled with an issue of blood, slips across the path of the procession and is healed, the eighth in number, so that the ruler’s daughter loses this place and has now only the ninth, in accordance with the psalmist’s words: Ethiopia shall haste to stretch out her hands to God,” and those of the apostle: “The fulness of the Gentiles shall come in and to all Israel should be saved.”
The woman troubled with the issue of blood twelve years is the people of the Gentiles, who fell sick while the Jews, represented by Jairus’ daughter, who was twelve years old, were being born to the faith. Now, while our Lord was on His way to the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, this woman troubled with the issue of blood approached Him, so that while on His way to one person, He healed another. The apostles acted in the same way they told the Jews: “To you it behooved us first to speak the word of God: but because you reject it and judge yourselves worthy of eternal life, behold we turn to the Gentiles.” So long as the hands of the Jews, full of blood, remain uncleansed, their synagogue, now dead will not rise again” (Homily for this Sunday).
One day, however, this resurrection will take place, for just as the Gentiles were healed by their faith in Christ, like the woman with the issue of blood, so the Jews, disillusioned as regards Antichrist, will return to Christ Himself, Who will restore life to their souls as He gave back bodily life to Jairus’ daughter. At that moment the utterance of the prophets will be fulfilled. Those, described by St. Paul in today’s Epistle, as “enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things”, will in their damnation, reach the fatal end to which such a life of wantonness must lead, while those who have lived as fellow-citizens of heaven will be forever delivered by Christ from the seductions of the world and sin. It is from heaven, the apostle goes on to remind us, that we look for the Savior, “Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory, according to the operation whereby also He is able to subdue all things to Himself” (Epistle). This power of healing went out from Him to cure the woman with the issue of blood, and it raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. In the same way it will reach the two peoples of the Gentiles and the Jews, who are symbolized in this illness and death, and who will be saved by their faith in Christ. In fact all the acts of physical healing and raising from the dead performed by our Lord are only symbols of our freedom from sin and resurrection to come. “I will bring back your captivity from all places,” says Jeremias in the Introit; “Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob,” adds the second verse of the psalm; and the Gradual goes on: “Thou hast delivered us, O Lord, from them that afflict us.”
In the same strain the Alleluia and the Offertory psalm relate how from the depths of exile the two nations have cried to the Lord imploring Him to hear their prayer, and how “with the Lord there is plenteous redemption, and He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (v. 7).
So let us pray with confidence, for if at Jairus’ prayer, our Lord raised his daughter from the dead, and if He healed the woman with the issue of blood in response to her faith, it will be by carrying out our Lord’s precept: “All things, whatsoever you ask when you pray believe that you shall receive: and they shall come unto you”; in other words, by turning to God in prayer full of faith, the Gentiles will be cured of their evil passions, and Israel will rise to her true life in Christ.
This return of the daughter of sin to the Truth, after her period of temporary death, will be a sign that the Last Day is near at hand, for it will put the final seal on the fulfilment of prophecy. Then freed, at last, “from the bonds of sin which by frailty we have contracted” we shall glory in God and give thanks to Him forever (Collect and Gradual).
INTROIT Jeremias 29: 11, 12,14
The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction: you shall call upon Me, and I shall hear you and I will bring back your captivity from all places. (Ps. 84: 2) Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. v. Glory be to the Father…
O Lord, we beseech Thee, absolve Thy people from their offenses, that through Thy bountiful goodness, we may be freed from the bonds of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
Collect for the Intercession of the Saints
Let us pray. Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body: and through the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, ever Virgin, mother of God, of St Joseph, of Thy holy apostles, Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy loving-kindness grant us safety and peace; that, all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom.
Collect for God’s Holy Church
Let us pray. Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE Philippians 3: 17-21; 4. 1-3
Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Philippiians. Brethren, Be followers of me, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping) that they are enemies of the cross of Christ whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory, according to the operation whereby also He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved, and most desired, my joy and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche to be of one mind with the Lord: and I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 43: 8, 9
Thou hast delivered us, O Lord, from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us. V. In God we will glory all the day: and in Thy Name we will give praise for ever. Alleluia, allelluia. V.(Ps. 129: 1, 2) From the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 22: 15-21
At that time, as Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, behold a certain ruler came up and adored Him, saying: Lord, my daughter is even now dead but come, lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus, rising up, followed him, with His disciples. And behold a woman, who, was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only His garment, I shall be healed. But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: “Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.” And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a tumult, He said: “for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth.” And they laughed Him to scorn. And when the multitude was put forth, He went in and took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame thereof went abroad into all that country.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ps. 129: 1, 2
From the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer: From the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord.
We offer to Thee, O Lord, this Sacrifice of praise, as an increase of our service: that what Thou hast conferred on us who are unworthy, Thou mayest mercifully accomplish. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.
Secret for the Intercession of the Saints
Graciously hear us, O God our Saviour, and, by virtue of this Sacrament, defend us from all enemies of soul and body, bestowing upon us Thy grace here and Thy glory hereafter.
Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Most Holy Trinity
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, ever-lasting God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, are one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out with one voice saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Mark 11: 24
Amen, I say to you, whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you shall receive and it shall be done to you.
We beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that Thou suffer us not to yield to human dangers whom Thou dost grant to rejoice in this sharing in divine gifts. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Postcommunion for the Intercession of the Saints
Let us pray. May the gift of this Divine Sacrament which we have offered, cleanse and defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, of St. Joseph, of Thy holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, free us from all iniquity and deliver us from all adversity.
Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
Let us pray. O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.