Celebrate Sunday Mass - 11.5.23

NOVEMBER 5, 2023 -- 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

11/5/2023 (8 months ago)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

My friends, brothers, and sisters in the Lord

In an Apostolic Letter entitled"The Lords Day" (Dies Domini),Pope St John Paul II gave a summary of the Christian understanding of Sunday, and underscored our obligation to honor the Lords Day. The Letter began with these words:

"The Lord's Day - as Sunday was called from Apostolic times - has always been accorded special attention in the history of the Church because of its close connection with the very core of the Christian mystery. In fact, in the weekly reckoning of time Sunday recalls the day of Christ's Resurrection. It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfilment in him of the first creation and the dawn of "the new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world's first day and looks forward in active hope to "the last day", when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5)".

Sometimes, Catholics and other Christians refer to Sunday as a "Christian Sabbath". Though well intentioned, this is incorrect. Sunday is "the Lords Day". This apostolic letter cites the biblical sources and the writings of the early Church manuals and early Church Fathers. The readings for the Sunday Mass set a framework for us to reflect on throughout the coming week.

The theme running through our readings this Sunday is our fidelity to the Covenant made with the Lord. Our first reading is taken from the Book of a minor prophet, Malachi. The Book is a part of the Old Testament Canon accepted by the Church. These prophets are called "minor", not because of their lack of importance. Rather, because of the Length of the book. The name means Messenger.

And, the Lord speaks through this messenger, giving a rebuke to the priests, the Levites, who are being unfaithful to the Lord. They do not give Him glory. They teach falsehood. They profane the Covenant the Lord made with Israel.

Sadly, too many in the Church, which is the "New Israel", do not keep the New Covenant, sealed in the blood of Jesus Christ. They do not teach the truth. They do not give glory to God.

How about us? No matter what our state in life or specific vocation, by virtue of our Baptism, we are sons and daughters of the Father, participating in the ongoing mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. How are we doing? Are we keeping the New Covenant? For example, how do we keep the Lords Day holy?

In our Responsorial Psalm, the Psalmist and Prophet David shows us what the Lord expects of all His people - and that includes you and me. We are not to be haughty, but humble. We are to be like children in our love for the Lord - and in our simplicity of Life. In Matthew 18:3 Jesus says "...unless you become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of God".

The Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians, our second reading, adds to this theme. He reminds them that as an apostle, he poured himself out for them, as his own children. And they welcomed it. They received the word preached as the word coming from the Lord Himself, whom Paul and all the other Apostles served.

That is how we are all called to live as well. No matter what our specific vocation. We are to imitate the Lord by emptying ourselves of ourselves so that we can be filled with His Holy Spirit and be used by Him. How are we doing?

Finally, the Gospel appointed for today exposes us to another example of "religious leaders", who do not "walk the talk". In this case it is the scribes and the Pharisees, who have the authority of Moses, but act in a manner at odds with that authority by seeking special treatment and calling attention to themselves, rather than pointing the Lord's people back to Him. They want a place of honor at table. They want titles which put them forward - and not which reflect the authority of the Lord whom they are called to serve and reveal.

Jesus reminds them that when anyone is a teacher for the Lord, they participate in His teaching office. If anyone has a pastoral or paternal role in the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, they participate in the Paternity of God the Father.

The passage does not forbid calling our leaders' father or our teachers' teacher. The Apostle Paul called Timothy his son in the Lord and spoke of himself as a spiritual father. But that calling was not to place himself above anyone, it was a recognition of his participation in divine paternity. In his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 3, he writes that he "...bends his knee before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name".

Are we living our Christian vocation this way? Are we pointing our spouses, children, grandchildren, co-workers...to the Lord? Or, are we drawing attention to ourselves?

Have a Blessed Lords Day,

Deacon Keith Fournier, JD, MTS, MPhil

Dean of Catholic Online School

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