12 Nov Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost
Today is the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost.
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877
“And when the multitude was put forth, he went in and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.”
“I will lead thee into solitude, and there speak to thy heart.” These are the words of the Holy Ghost, in the Canticle of Canticles, and indicate the disposition which a soul striving after perfection must have in order to receive the inspirations of that Spirit of Love, take them to heart, and follow the call of divine grace.
In seeking perfection several things are essential, viz., love of solitude, a refraining from useless conversation, and from all that tends to distract the soul from that desired end. A similar course must be pursued when a sinner is to be aroused from that spiritual death which sin has brought upon his soul, and to this the Gospel of today has reference.
Jesus was called to the house of a ruler, where He found a multitude gathered, for death had taken away his daughter in her youth.
But Jesus did not perform the miracle until the noisy multitude was put forth, for the expression of Holy Scripture is literally “put forth,”–from which we are led to infer that the crowd did not go willingly, but resisted those who obeyed the command of our Saviour and required them to leave. Dearly beloved in Christ, let us apply this circumstance to the conversion of a sinner from his dangerous state.
Before that sinner can be restored from spiritual death to eternal life, his heart must be free from all strife and tumult. And what is this commotion which rages in his heart? We will consider it briefly today.
Mary, princess of peace, we pray thee, calm the storm that sweeps over the sinner's poor soul, that, when Jesus bids him “arise,” he may listen to His voice! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God !
But if the sinner does not hear the sweet voice of his Saviour, or if it sound to his unwilling ear as the echo of some voice far away, or, if hearing it, he cares not to turn and obey the call, it is because his heart is always absorbed in the dissipations of this world.
First, there is the tumult of the passions in the heart of the sinner, who is borne hither and thither, swayed now by one evil impulse and then by another of the various sins which have become habitual to him. This tumult is like the raging of the sea, when the roaring of the angry waves prevents one from hearing the voice of another who calls from afar. Cast but one glance at the tempest-tossed life of the sinner, or even look into your own heart, and you may see there the reality of what I have described. of pride holds sway. Day and night he is engrossed by thoughts and schemes to mount higher and higher, until he reaches the most exalted pinnacle–of earthly fame. And, oh ! how wildly rages the tumult in his heart, when his well-devised schemes have failed to gain his ends ; and, instead of honor and fame, his only reward is the scorn and contempt of men. With his heart thus filled with conflicting emotions, there is no room for any thought of God to enter there.
The ruling passion of another is avarice. Poor, tempest-tossed sinner! The noisy multitude clamoring in his heart will not let him hear the voice of Jesus, which bids him arise. Those endless schemes to increase his store, to amass riches until the worshipers of mammon will bow down before him, cause the tumult, which must cease before he can hearken to the call of grace. He knows no rest, fearing to be deprived of his prized wealth, his cherished treasure, but caring not to lay it away where neither moth nor rust can destroy nor thieves break in and bear it away. Should his fears be realized, the tumult rages more fiercely than ever; and, until the noisy multitude be put forth, there can be no thought of an earnest conversion to God.
But what words can be found to adequately express the state of that sinner who is held fast in the thralldom of lust! By day and by night the tumult of his passions rages so fiercely that he is entirely deaf to the voice of that Saviour who calls on him to repent, and whose loving, compassionate heart will not refuse pardon even to him !
Another allows anger and impatience to rage in his breast, and the tumultuous thoughts which arise therefrom, the feelings of revenge and hostility which abound, drown the voice of Jesus. Yes, and so loud is the tumult, so deafening its roar, that it is often heard afar off in quarrels and contentions, in blasphemy. Even murder results from anger. Until this noisy multitude is put forth, the sinner will be deaf to the voice of his God.
What confusion and tumult prevails in the heart of the drunkard ! The despicable vice of intemperance leads its victims to forget every thing their families, their honor, their religion, for drink winds round them a chain which they care not to break, and begets a tumult within and without. Look at the drunkard, as he emerges from some midnight revel, caring naught for the warning of his friends, the admonitions of his pastor, or the pleading of his Saviour for admission into his degraded heart. Not until the noisy multitude is put forth, can Jesus bid him arise from spiritual death.
With others the passion of envy is the principal failing, and it is a constant source of agitation to those who indulge in it. Torn by conflicting emotions at the sight of the happiness which others enjoy, the victim of envy feels no rest nor peace in his miserable heart. In his futile repinings, he opens that heart to a noisy multitude of rebellious murmurings; and how can he listen to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Love, until their clamor is stilled?
Neither does the vice of sloth exempt the heart of the sinner from the presence of that multitude, the clamor of which entirely drowns the Saviour's voice.
On the contrary, the Christian, whose ruling passion it is, is particularly prone to dissipations and distractions; and the deadly lethargy which possesses him renders him powerless to still the tumult and put the multitude forth.
To all who listen today to my voice I would say: Empty your hearts, and cultivate that spirit of recollection which will make you realize what alone is necessary to work out your salvation. Few, in the light of that eternity which draws nearer each moment, the vanity and nothingness of all that for which you so eagerly strive. Nothing so earnestly conduces to a true conversion as frequent meditation on death.
“And when the multitude was put forth, Jesus went in and took her by the hand.” A vivid realization of the certainty of death and its rapid approach takes the sinner, as it were, by the hand to raise him from his lethargy.
Besides this interior tumult engendered by the various passions, there are also many exterior circumstances which keep him in a state of constant disgust. Nay, even the Christian, who is not guilty of very grievous offenses, experiences this also.
First, there are the thousand distractions of daily life which crowd upon the man who, wholly taken up with the idea of providing for his support as well as he can, and, perhaps, of laying up the wealth of this world, can not spare time to think of the next. He is too busy to burst the bonds of sin and be converted to God.
The busy signs of life in a large city, the constant turmoil, the ceaseless hurrying to and fro of crowds in eager pursuit of some favorite aim, all show how little consideration is given to the solemn truth that we are destined to die.
Even those who are placed above the necessity of working for their maintenance, nevertheless find ample excuse for directing their thoughts from heaven and God. Some are so engrossed with politics, with schemes and plans for the advancement of themselves, of their friends, or of their party, that they forget to pray, or to fulfill their duties as Catholics. If the whispers of conscience can not be entirely stilled, their cry is: “Tomorrow! tomorrow!” and so day after day passes by, until, without warning, the end craweth nigh, and then cometh the night “wherein no man can work.” The votary of pleasure plunges recklessly into every dissipation, drinking deeply of the poisoned cup, and seeking thus vainly to gratify passion, which, alas, is insatiable! Mark it well, most beloved in Christ, that Jesus did not restore the dead girl to life until the noisy multitude was put forth. Then drive from your hearts and banish forever the tumultuous multitude of thoughts and temptations which these seven deadly sins engender therein.
Meditate upon death, remember your last end, and you will repent of your sins; your Saviour, who died for you upon the cross, will bid your souls arise from the sleep of spiritual death, and may God grant that you will hearken to His voice ! Amen !
“And they laughed Him to scorn.”–Matt. 9, 24.
The noisy multitude mocked and laughed at Jesus. The soldiers of the governor assembled together, and after having removed His garments, they, in derision, put a scarlet cloak about Him, and a crown of thorns upon His head, and a reed for a scepter in His hand, while they heaped every insult upon Him. But not only the rabble treated Him thus; for Herod and his wicked courtiers loaded this meek and suffer ing Saviour of the world with every species of ignominy which malice could suggest !
Even when He hung in agony upon the cross, to consummate the great work of redemption, the Pharisees stood beneath and laughed Him to scorn! But, lo! the sun was darkened, the earth trembled to her very depths, the dead arose and walked abroad , the vail in the temple was rent asunder; for nature, appalled at the mighty wrong that had been wrought by man, gave evidence of her grief and woe. Then, those who had been loudest in their wicked treatment of our Saviour were terrified, and went away filled with confusion!
As Christ was treated, my brethren, so will be treated all those who follow His divine example by walking in the sorrowful way of the cross. As He was persecuted, so will His devoted children be persecuted; as He was reviled, so will they be covered with scorn; as He was nailed to the cross, so must they expect to be nailed to the cross of mortification and ignominy. Christ has foretold this, and as He Himself says: “The disciple is not greater than his Master.”
Thus it was in ages past, and thus it will continue. The Pagan world mocked and derided the Church of God, and those who are not of her fold do it today. The heretic, the apostate, and the Christian who is so in name alone, fling insults and scorn at the Church and her faithful children, and their wickedness shall not cease until time shall be no more ! But, my dear brethren, you who are striving to fulfill the holy will of your divine Master, do not permit this mockery to disturb yon, but rather let it be a subject of joy !
Mary, who beneath the cross, didst bear with unshaken courage the cruel mockeries offered to thy divine Son, assist us to accept with patience, and even joy, for Christ s sake, the affronts which we, as Catholics, may have to bear! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God !
Among the innumerable weapons by which hell, with its earthly accomplices, seeks to attack and assault the Church, the kingdom of God, collectively and individually, there is none that works such irremediable mischief as ridicule. Regarded in itself, it seems to be harmless, and incapable of gaining even a passing notice from those against whom it is aimed; but, alas ! it is not so, for a dread of being laughed at has not only, in many instances, kept Protestants and infidels from entering that Church which, in their hearts, they believe to be the only one wherein salvation is to be found, but it has been effective in preventing the return to God of those who have strayed from the path of virtue ! Alas! that terrible fear that worldlings will laugh at their piety, has proved the eternal ruin of many a soul! What folly to regard the mockery of poor worms of the earth like themselves! Let us briefly consider who are they who ridicule us if we openly profess our faith, and live, according to its divine teachings, pious, pure, and holy lives.
Even though they may be sceptered monarchs, adorned with glittering diadems, and seated upon lofty thrones, they are poor frail mortals, mortals doomed to die,–whose appearance in a few short days after death will be most revolting, subjects, not indeed for ridicule, but for the deepest disgust! They are men with perhaps the guilt of mortal sin upon their souls, in whom are verified the description of Christ : Being born of the devil, and resembling him!
Oh, could we but see the deformity of a soul in this diabolical state, we would almost die of horror ! Who are they who ridicule the faithful children of God ? They are mortals who must one day be called before the judgment-seat of Christ, and, if they appear before that terrible tribunal, weighed down with the guilt of that mockery upon their souls, they will surely be among those who, on the last day, will cry out : “Woe to us, fools, who laughed and derided them, and now they are among the children of light ; but the way of truth was not with us!” Who are those scoffers? Men who, when on the last great day, the most hidden crimes will be revealed, will shriek aloud, begging the mountains to fall on them, and the hills to cover them up, but instead they will be covered with ignominy and scorn. Then will they be forced to hear, extended by Christ to the just, the gracious invitation: “Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world;” while upon them will be pronounced the terrible sentence: “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,” and they will descend body and soul into hell!
Thus will the Lord fulfill His promise: “Whosoever will confess Me before man, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven,” before all the angels and saints, when I shall come in all My power and majesty, to render to every man accord ing to his works!
Let these considerations induce you, my brethren, to disregard the ridicule aimed at you by the enemies of our holy faith, who mock at and revile all those who strive to show forth by their lives that theirs is not a dead, but a living faith. They despise those who live not to amass the treasures of this world, but to lay up everlasting riches in a happy eternity, who care not to seek the transitory honors and empty favor of this world, when a few brief years of self-denial will put them into possession of eternal joys!
They despise you because you believe, and yet how many unanswerable arguments prove the truth of faith as Christ announced it to the world ! When Jesus raised the dead daughter of the ruler to life, admiration and wonder took the place of derision !
This miracle and numberless others, as well as the resurrection of Christ Himself, ratify the truths of faith, which are supported, moreover, by the testimony of the Prophets, illustrated by the holiness of the Gospel's teachings, by all the glorious labors of Holy Church for the salvation of the human race, by the virtuous lives not only of many who are still living upon earth, but also of those who, by the sanctity of their lives, have merited to be pronounced saints by this Holy Catholic Church, and are in heaven!
Is there anything more glorious than this Holy Church which we call our mother, to which Christ has assigned such pre-eminence by her four marks. She is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic; and, for over eighteen hundred years, she has illumined and enlightened the world. Is there not every reason to be proud of being children of this glorious mother?
Ah, my dear friends, the enemies of the Church have no reason to revile those who live as her true children. They ridicule the practice of prayer, knowing nothing of the sweetness contained therein, and utterly ignorant that the fervent Catholic enjoys a happiness to them incomprehensible of union with God while yet on earth, and an abundance of spiritual favors therefrom. They laugh at you because you assist at divine service, in their ignorance of the sublimity of that sacrifice which the Church offers up, and the graces contained in the reception of the most adorable Sacrament of the altar.
They laugh at you, faithful Catholics, because you do not rush eagerly in pursuit of worldly riches, honors and pleasures, but prefer those which are eternal. They despise you because, like Solomon, you feel impelled to exclaim: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” save to love and serve God. Why? St. Augustine tells us when he says that God has created our hearts for Himself, and that they shall find no rest until they rest in Him. Therefore, let us never lose courage when we are laughed at for doing our duty, nor be dejected when we are striving to follow the example of the crucified One, who was mocked and derided and cruelly reviled. Then, through Him, we will one day be eternally glorified in that heavenly home where, with the whole celestial host, we will entone the praises of our Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen!
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff