Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Someone mentioned to me recently that Sermons these days tend to focus heavily on the Gospel of the day, thus ignoring the riches of the rest of the Propers of the Traditional Latin Mass. The focus on the Gospel is certainly understandable - they provide such a rich and important focus for catechesis. And there is only so much that can be covered in the five or ten minutes allocated to the Sermon after all!

Still, the point that there is much more there that should fuel our reflection is a good one I think. And we are certainly not restricted to Sermons in terms of material for our preparation for and reflection on the texts of the Mass. Fr Z's excellent 'What does the prayer really mean' series on the collects is a good illustration of this.

So I thought I might try making a few comments on the other texts of the day by way of possible material for reflection, not least as a way of making myself do more preparation for the Mass! In the Extraordinary Form, of course, there is often the opportunity to hear these texts again during the week if the priest wishes (depending on how many saints days there are!).

Dom Geranger points to this Sunday as focused on 'the faithful as the living stones' of which the Church is built - last week, he says, Peter caught the 'mystical fish' in his net, 'drawing the chosen souls into the union with the Church'; this week focuses on the building, here on earth, of a temple worthy of the Father by all the faithful.

It is, of course, primarily a building process of the spirit - a temple built through spiritual combat with the aid of grace, prefigured in the physical combat recorded in 1&2 Samuel that is being read at Matins (today's readings, from 2 Samuel 1, tell the story of David's response to the news of Saul's death). The centrepoint is from the Sermon on the Mount, with the reminder that thoughts as well as deeds count!

There are two key themes it seems to me: firstly the heavenly reward that awaits us, with most of the Propers containing some reference to salvation and the 'good things' God has prepared for us; and secondly the aid that God will give to us for the fight (the theme picked started in the Introit, and picked up in the Graduale). Have a look through them and you will see what I mean.

I have to admit though that it is the Epistle, from 1 Peter 3, that I particularly like. St Peter quotes a large chunk of Psalm 33, which is also used by St Benedict in the Prologue to his Rule. It is simple message, but an important one:

"He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it."

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