Liturgy for Sundays and Main Feasts
Reflections on the Liturgy of the Day – from L’Année Liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger
In the Collect, holy Church teaches us that our thoughts and actions, to be made deserving of eternal life, stand in need of grace; the former that we may have the inspiration, the latter that we may have the will to do them: O God, from whom all that is good proceeds: grant that thy people, by thy inspiration, may resolve on what is right, and by thy direction, put it in practice.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint James the Apostle. Ch. 1.
Dearly beloved: Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer; he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work: this man shall be blessed in his deed. And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world.
Reflection on the Epistle
The Holy Apostle, whose instructions these are, had received them from our risen Jesus: hence the authoritative tone wherewith he speaks. Saint James the Less is the apostle of good works, for it is from him that we have received this fundamental maxim of Christianity, that though faith be the first essential of a Christian, yet without works it is a dead faith, and will not save us.
He also lays great stress on our being attentive to the truths we have been taught, and on our guarding against that culpable forgetfulness, which plays such havoc with thoughtless souls. Many of those who have this year received the grace of the Easter mystery, will not persevere; and the reason is, that they will allow the world to take up all their time and thoughts, whereas they should use the world as though they did not use it. Let us never forget, that we must now walk in newness of life, in imitation of our risen Jesus, who dies now no more.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John. Ch. XVI
At that time: Jesus said to His disciples: Amen, amen, I say to you; if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in My name. Ask and you shall receive; that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour comes when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father. In that day you shall ask in My name: and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world and I go to the Father. His disciples say to Him: Behold now You speak plainly, and speak no proverb. Now we know that You know all things, and You need not that any man should ask You. By this we believe that You come forth from God.
Reflection on the Gospel
When, at His last Supper, our Saviour thus warned His apostles of His having soon to leave them, they were far from knowing Him thoroughly. True, they knew that He came forth from God; but their faith was weak, and they soon lost it. Now that they are enjoying His company after His Resurrection, now that they have received such light from His instructions, they know Him better. He no longer speaks to them in proverbs; He teaches them everything they require to know in order to become the teachers of the whole world. It is now they might truly say to Him: We believe that thou earnest forth from God! So much the more, then, do they understand what they are going to lose by His leaving them.
Our Lord begins now to reap the fruit of the word He has sown in their hearts: oh! how patiently has He waited for it! If He praised them for their faith, when they were with Him on the night of the last Supper, He may surely do so now that they have seen Him in the splendour of His Resurrection, and have been receiving such teaching from His lips. He said to them, at the last Supper: The Father loveth you because ye have loved Me; how much more must the Father love them now, when their love for Jesus is so much increased! Let us be consoled by these words. Before Easter our love of Jesus was weak, and we were tepid in His service; but now that we have been enlightened and nourished by His mysteries, we may well hope that the Father loves us, for we love Jesus better than we did before. This dear Redeemer urges us to ask the Father, in His name, for everything we need. We must desire the right thing; let us pray to have this desire, and then continue our prayer till the right thing is granted. Grace will then be given us: it will be our own fault if it be unproductive.