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Liturgy for Sundays and Main Feasts

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
17th Sunday after Pentecost – Love of God and neighbor

Reflection on the Liturgy of the Day – from L’Année Liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger

Introit

Thou art just, O Lord, and Thy judgment is right; deal with Thy servant according to Thy mercy. Psalm. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord. Glory be to the Father.

The most hateful of all the obstacles which divine love has to encounter upon earth is the jealousy of satan, who endeavours, by an impious usurpation, to rob God of the possession of our souls – souls, that is, which were created by and for Him alone. Let us unite with holy Church in praying, in the Collect, for the supernatural assistance we require for avoiding the foul contact of the hideous serpent.

Collect

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy people may avoid all the contagions of the devil; and, with a pure mind, follow Thee, who alone art God. Through Christ Our Lord.

Epistle

Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul, the Apostle, to the Ephesians, Chapter IV.

Brethren: I, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, with all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity. Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all, who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

Reflection on the Epistle

This vocation, this call, which God gives us is, as we have been so often told, the call, or invitation, made to the human family to come to the sacred nuptials of divine union; it is the vocation given to us to reign in heaven with the Word, who has made Himself our Spouse, and our Head. The Gospel read to us last week was formerly the one appointed for this present Sunday, and was thus brought into close connexion with our Epistle. These words of St. Paul to the Ephesians are an admirable commentary on that Gospel, and it, in turn, throws light on the apostle’s words about the vocation. “When tyou are invited to a wedding sit down in the lowest place!ˮ Walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, yes, walk in that vocation with all humility!

Let us now attentively hearken to our apostle, telling us what we must do, in order to prove ourselves worthy of the high honour offered to us by the Son of God. We must practise, among other virtues, these three – humility, mildness, and patience. These are the means for gaining the end that is so generously proposed to us. And what is this end? It is the unity of that immense body, which the Son of God makes His own, by the mystic nuptials He vouchsafes to celebrate with our human nature. This Man-God asks one condition from those whom He calls, whom He invites, to become, through the Church, His bride, bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh. This one condition is, that they maintain such harmony among them, that it will make one body and one spirit of them all, in the bond of peace.

We now know the priceless gifts brought to our earth by the Man-God. Thanks to the prodigies of power and love achieved by the divine Word and the sanctifying Spirit, the soul of the just man is a little heaven on earth. Let us sing in our Gradual and Alleluia the happiness of the Christian people, chosen by God for His own inheritance.

Gradual

Blessed is the nation that has the Lord for its God: the people whom He has chosen for His inheritance. By the word of the Lord, and the breath of His mouth, were the heavens formed, and the whole host thereof. Alleluia, alleluia. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto Thee. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter XXII.

At that time: The Pharisees came to Jesus: and one of them, a doctor of the law, asked Him, tempting Him: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments depends the whole law and the prophets. And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them saying: What think ye of Christ? whose son is He? They say to Him: David’s. He said to them: How then does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on My right hand, until I make Thy enemies Thy footstool? If David then called Him Lord, how is hHe his son? And no man was able to answer Him a word; neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions.

Reflection on the Gospel

The Man-God allowed temptation to approach His sacred Person in the desert; He disdained not to sustain the attacks, which the devil’s spiteful cunning has, from the world’s beginning, been inventing, as the surest means of working man’s perdition. Our Jesus permitted the demon thus to tempt Him, in order that He might show His faithful servants how they are to repel the assaults of the wicked spirit. Today, our adorable Master, who would be a model to His children in all their trials, is represented to us as having to contend, not with satan’s perfidy, but with the hypocrisy of His bitterest enemies, the pharisees. They seek to ensnare Him in His speech, just as the representatives of the world, which He has condemned, will do to His Church, and that in all ages, right to the end of time. But as her divine Spouse triumphed, so will she; for He will enable her to continue His work upon earth, and amidst the same temptations and the same snares. She is ever to come off with victory, by maintaining a most inviolable fidelity to God’s law and truth.