If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

13th Sunday of the year (B)

Thirteenth Sunday (B)

(Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; 2nd Corinthians 8:7-9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43)

We have today, People of God, a vision of Jesus which the early Christians loved, a vision which comforted and strengthened them in their patient endurance of, and final triumph over, state persecution at the hands of the world-wide Roman Empire.  Those persecutions are difficult for us to appreciate today.   We all rejoice in our hearts to read in the papers or to see on the TV news programmes how some ordinary individual has taken on stone-walling officialdom, and, against all the odds, finally received justice.  But in such a situation we have a sympathetic press, we can have recourse to the law at times, and we are a free people who can talk out and gather friends.  But Rome was a universal power, the Emperor’s will was law, there was no free press, and Roman society disliked, even hated, Christians who behaved so differently and openly shunned as evil so many practices and amusements which Roman society loved: the circuses, the gladiatorial fights, and the sexual licentiousness which was common and wide-spread.
Consequently there was nowhere to turn for our fellow Christians of the first three or four centuries when the all-powerful, universal, state turned on them.  They had only their own resources, that is, the strength which the Faith gave them; and one of the supreme sources of comfort, strength, and hope for them was this picture of Jesus as Lord of life and death’s destroyer in today’s Gospel reading:
Jesus took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying, then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, Talitha, cumi, which is translated, Little girl, I say to you, arise.   Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement.
On a later occasion John tells us about the death of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary:
Jesus said to His disciples, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up."   Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well."  However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.  Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.   And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him." (11:11-15)
Jesus knew what death was, but, when He Himself was involved with the “dead” person, or when He was invoked, called on to help, He preferred to speak of “falling asleep”:
Our friend Lazarus sleeps … I go, that I may wake him up.
Jesus came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly.  When He came in, He said to them, "Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.
In all their many trials and tribulations the early Christians loved to think of Jesus raising up His own from what the world called death, but which they knew to be only a “sleep”; for them, there was a life to come, a life where sin and death would be no more.  That is why, only some thirty or perhaps sixty years later when Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was written, the author could quote a traditional Christian hymn in this way:
Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. (Ephesians 5:14)
Let us now turn our attention to the synagogue leader and to the woman with a haemorrhage, both of whom turned to Jesus in their great need.  Notice first of all, People of God, what a great leveller faith is: on the one hand a prominent member of the local synagogue and on the other this very much embarrassed woman.  One comes to Jesus openly, falls at His feet and tells of his distress and anxiety with which anyone who heard would sympathize; the other comes up to Jesus secretly with a double-trouble she wished to keep secret, since her serious and debilitating ailment was not only an embarrassment for her but also made her legally unclean and therefore an outcast from society.  Both, the synagogue official publicly proclaiming his grief and praising Jesus, and the woman anxiously striving to keep her troubles secret even from Jesus Himself, were given what they desired because of one thing only: their faith in Jesus.  
Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment; for she said, "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well."  
How beautiful Jesus was, People of God!    The psalmist tells us of Him:
God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions; Your garments are scented with myrrh, aloes, and cassia.  (Psalm 45: 7-8)
She had confessed to the drawing power of such beauty by daring to risk herself and her shame as she joined and gradually pushed through the crowd surrounding Jesus -- (‘Who does she think she is pushing her way through like that!!’) -- that, however, was as far as she dare go … just a gentle, unnoticeable touch of His garments … Was it personal shame or was it such reverence for the beauty and majesty of the One to Whom she had drawn so near that made her so diffident.  Whatever it was, Jesus would not allow faith to be full without praise, acknowledgment, and witness:
            Who has touched My clothes, He said?
And at this moment, just as her faith had healed her so shortly before, so now a new-found willingness and desire to acknowledge and praise Jesus enabled her to:
            approach Jesus in fear and trembling, and she fell down before Him;
whereupon her deep-rooted, years-long, embarrassment, secrecy and fear, dissolved along with her ailment, and, before all:
            she told Him the whole truth.
And how beautiful Jesus still IS, People of God!!  That woman only slightly touched His cloak, whereas we receive Jesus, the full humanity of the heavenly glorified Jesus, in the Eucharist.  Many of you will receive Him at this Mass; let her be your model!  Look at the woman’s self-risking faith and hope as she single-mindedly moved through the crowd of people in order to get into a position where she could just touch the cloak of Jesus: now look at yourself, what sort of faith and hope are in your mind and heart as you prepare to receive His very Self in the Eucharist?  Surely you are not so unfortunate as to think you do not have any needs or desires so pressing or so important as those experienced by the woman in our Gospel story?
Finally, notice that both the synagogue official and the unknown woman came to find Jesus together with His disciples.  They did not try to waylay Jesus in some side-alley or find Him walking alone in the countryside: both went looking for Him, and expected to find Him, together with His disciples. That must be our attitude too, People of God.  Those who would wilfully and knowingly ignore His disciples gathered together in His Name cannot hope to find Jesus.  We come to find JESUS in the Church where He has promised to be until the end of time, for the Church has been established to lead us to Jesus. 
However, although Jesus and His Church are one, they are not the same.  Because we are members of the one, true, Church of Christ, we should never allow ourselves to forget that Jesus alone is our total aim and aspiration here on earth.  We must never turn aside from Jesus and satisfy ourselves with membership of the Church; rather, should we constantly relate to Jesus in the Church.  When, for example, Mother Church says we must come to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, that we must receive the Eucharist at least once a year, and that about Easter, we cannot therefore think that, having done those things, we do not need to bother any more about Jesus, that we do not need to pray to Him, perseveringly seek to know and love Him, and humbly try serve Him as best we can at all times and under all circumstances.  All that is summed up in our attitude at Mass: we come to Mass to make a sincerely personal encounter and establish an enduring personal relationship with and commitment to Jesus, whereby, in Him and by His Spirit, we may learn to fulfil our personal calling, and fittingly -- on behalf of all mankind --offer worship and praise to the glory of God the Father.
And Mother Church assures us that Jesus, for His part, is not only concerned about our spiritual, other-worldly, well-being, our eternal salvation; He is concerned also about our present joy and our present well-being, as the following words of Jesus make abundantly clear:
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11);
Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:24);
and we can bring our thoughts today to a fitting close by recalling what Jesus said after He had raised the young girl from the sleep of death:
He commanded that something should be given her to eat.
Jesus is, indeed, Lord and Saviour not only for those who, like the early Christians, suffer persecution and death for His Name, but also, for disciples such as ourselves in the lesser sorrows and smaller needs that come our way as we strive to serve Him in all details of our lives.  Important or unnoticed, big or small, we are all members of His flock that constantly needs to be able to find suitable pasture:
            Give (them) something to eat!
For, indeed, as St. Paul tells us, His whole  will is to enrich all who turn to Him:
Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor that you, through His poverty, might become rich.


Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Birth of John the Baptist (2012)

The Birth of John the Baptist

Isaiah 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80)

The fact that God gave Zechariah and Elizabeth's child the name "John" is most significant.  It was considered to be the father's privilege to give a name to his child, and so, the fact that it was God Himself Who, through the angel Gabriel, named him ‘John’ shows that John was indeed to be, as we would say, "God's man".  As you heard in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah:
Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.
When God took possession of Abram and Sarai, He gave them new names, Abraham and Sarah, to indicate the new purpose and destiny which was to be theirs.  And so, when Elisabeth and Zechariah abided by the name given to them for the child by the angel, Gabriel, they were, in reality, welcoming for the child the destiny planned for him by God, they were, indeed, devoting him to God.
The name ‘John’ means ‘The Lord has been gracious’ and it leads us to anticipate that, in His Providence, God would subsequently be gracious to His Chosen People through John.
John’s background fostered the development of his distinctive character: he was born into a provincial priestly family, his father being a priest of the order of Abijah while his mother was of the family of Aaron.  As he came to know the weaknesses and failings of the priestly society in Jerusalem concerning their attitude towards, and treatment of, visiting provincial priests; and, above all, on recognizing the wealth, luxury, pride and venality of the leading priestly families – he may well have found himself both indignant at his parents’ treatment, and alienated by the excessive pomp and intrusive politics of Temple and city life, for we are told that:
The child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived (by preference) in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel (Luke 1:80). 
In the Judean desert:
John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4).
John did not take on such a life in a spirit of rejection or revolt, for then he would have turned out to be a very bitter, disillusioned, and ultimately empty person, far, far indeed from the positive and striking character we know him to have been.   No, his choice of life-style was the result of God’s choice of him:
When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41).
John, by the choice and grace of God the Father – for none can come, let alone draw near, to Jesus unless called by the Father – had leaped FOR SHEER JOY in his mother’s womb at Jesus’ approach in His mother’s womb.  Moreover, Elizabeth herself was filled, at that same moment, with the Holy Spirit, bestowed on her that she might bring up fittingly the child of her old age, by the God Who, as her neighbours and relatives clearly recognized and wonderingly proclaimed, had shown her such great  mercy.  No wonder at all then, that:
These things were talked about through all the hill country of Judah, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?”  (Luke 1:66)
This child was so closely connected with Jesus: by family, Mary and Elizabeth being cousins; both being foretold by the angel Gabriel and born miraculously; both intimately called to the desert; and directly related over the course and purpose of their lives, as Zechariah -- under divine inspiration -- exclaimed:
And you, (my) child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins. (Luke 1: 76)
And, yet you know, that does not express all that was planned by God for John!   He would be called a prophet, one, that is, who speaks for, on behalf of, in the name of, God.   Indeed, he would become the one chosen to speak for God the Father about His own Son, His only-begotten and most beloved Son!!
This indeed, would be confirmed by Jesus Himself when subsequent to John’s imprisonment by Herod He said to the people gathered round Him:
What did you go out into the wilderness to see?  A reed shaken by the wind?  What then did you go out to see?  A man dressed in soft clothing?  Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in king’s courts.  What then did you go out to see?  A prophet?  Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. … I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. (Luke 7:24-28)
It might even possibly be that, when Jesus attained His majority in regard to the Law and had stayed behind in Jerusalem ‘lost’ in admiration and love in His Father’s house, John was himself leaving his home and setting out for the desert … to fulfil his vocation, to respond to the wondrous choice that God had made of him.  He was drawn to the desert where God could speak to his heart and secretly form and gradually establish him in self-forgetfulness, and peaceful expectance of, and attention to, God; that He, the most-loving Father, might gradually purify, enlighten, and strengthen him so as to intuitively appreciate, whole-heartedly serve, and most faithfully proclaim His beloved only-begotten Son as the Holy One of Israel.
When he did, at last, appear publicly to Israel he preached strongly against the lives of luxury, trappings of wealth, and quest for money and power which characterized the upper echelons of priestly society in Jerusalem, and equally the pride which motivated so many Scribes and Pharisees in their search for influence and public esteem. These things so appalled and disgusted John that, on noticing certain figures coming to witness or avail themselves of the baptism he was giving by the Jordan, he burst out:
You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. (Luke 3:7-8)
In this respect, John was indeed the culmination of the prophets of old who had so often, over the centuries, castigated the sins of Israel!
However, that was not the whole of John, for though his family background and personal character conspired to make him both significant and remarkable, it was his vocation from God that rendered him quite unique.  God did not only "make his mouth a sharp sword" against the Lord's enemies, but he was also "honoured in the eyes of the Lord" to the extent that he was called to begin to "bring back Jacob to the Lord", which is why, as we all heard in the first reading, John went about the region of the Jordan:
       Preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:3)
Here we must take even more careful notice of John.  He offered a baptism, an immersion, for the forgiveness of sins, but only to those coming forward for that baptism with the sincerity of their repentance backed up by the evidence of good works done:
      Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Such was John’s insistence: they had to stop standing on their dignity by thinking "we have Abraham as our father" or "we are levitical priests”, or again, “we are learned scribes or holy Pharisees"; instead they had to show the truth of their  sorrow for past sins by their present efforts at righteousness.  John would also give advice to those who asked him on how and what sort of fruit for repentance they should bring with them:
“The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"  "Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely-be content with your pay." (Luke 3:11-14)
When they had produced such fruit worthy of repentance, John would baptize them with, immerse them in, water; and only then could they go back to the Temple and perform the many cleansing ceremonies with right dispositions and so hope to receive the grace of God attached to those ritual ablutions. 
However, John had still more to offer.  He was fully aware of the limitations of the baptism he himself was offering, and therefore, as a true forerunner of Jesus, he would speak to those who were truly repentant of the One who was to come:
I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Luke 3:16)
In this way, St. Luke tells us:
With many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
In his personal life style John differed greatly from Jesus.  Jesus did not live in the desert, although it was in the desert where He first conquered the Devil.  Jesus did not wear a garment of camel's hair, nor was His food locusts and wild honey although there were times when He had nowhere to lay His head, times when He was exhausted by lack of food and water. Jesus once referred to the obvious contrast between Himself and John saying (Luke 7:33-35):
John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'
In his teaching, however, John was indeed a man after Jesus' own heart.  Just as we heard God say of David in the second reading, so too it could be said of John that he was, for Jesus:
      A man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'
It would appear that John did not mention the One who was to come to the unrepentant, "the brood of vipers", and we then call to mind the later words of Jesus to His disciples:
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6)
We also recall in this respect the way Jesus used to speak only in parables to those who were insufficiently- or not well- disposed:
The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"  He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.  Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.  For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”      (Matt 13:10-15)
People of God, for many in the Church today John the Baptist is unknown and unappreciated and it is a mystery to them why he has such prominence in Mother Church's liturgy for only he -- together with Peter and Paul -- of all the prophets and apostles, has both a vigil and a solemn celebratory Mass and Office.  Mother Church cannot forget what God has given her to preserve for His children, given her for their nurture, enlightenment and fulfilment.
John, who first delighted in Jesus in the womb of Mary and still delights in Jesus in His Church, has a most important lesson for us children of Mother Church, a lesson and a teaching which makes him little regarded today by many who like to follow trends rather than seek truth.  John demanded signs of repentance and without such signs he would not baptize the proud and prestigious, the luxurious and sinful ones, who might come to him:
You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:7-8).
As St. Mark's Gospel (1:14-15) tells us, Jesus picks up from where John left off:
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
Today it is popularly considered that the approach to Jesus should be made as easy as possible.  As a result, His call to repentance can easily be watered down and His teaching not so much adapted as adulterated; while the Blood of Christ is splashed around like water in the ‘Asperges’ when the sacraments are given to those who gladly proffer a show of words but withhold substantial obedience. 
This is all to Mother Church's great loss: not because harshness, rigidity, even strictness are good in themselves, but because reverence is absolutely essential if one is to draw close to God.  John was providentially sent by the Father to prepare the way for His Son because God can only show His love and mercy in and through His Son to those whom reverence prevents from abusing that love and mercy.  Only when reverence inspires in us the discipline of good works, when -- eschewing any quick fix -- it leads us to watch and wait dutifully and humbly for the Lord; and, above all, only when such reverence gradually persuades and constrains us to seek God first and put self last, can we hope to become true disciples of Jesus and further the coming of God’s Kingdom.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

11th Sunday of the Year (B)

Eleventh Sunday of Year B

(Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34)

St. Paul’s words in our second reading today:
WE ARE ALWAYS COURAGEOUS, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord
remind me very much of Our Blessed Lord’s words recorded by St. John in his Gospel:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but BE OF GOOD CHEER, I have overcome the world.  (John 16:33)
Actually the two Greek words translated in the one case by ‘We are always courageous’ and in the other by ‘be of good cheer’ are almost identical and most closely related, so that we should interpret the words attributed to St. Paul by the words of Our Blessed Lord … since very few indeed would be so bumptious as to say of themselves that they were always courageous, for not everyone can be courageous, and certainly none can guarantee such behaviour.  However, all can, and St. Paul most certainly would -- with faith and trust in the Lord -- hope and aspire to always ‘be of good cheer’ and ‘take courage’ in whatever adverse situation they might find themselves, for St. Paul truly wants to help us face up to what Jesus Himself explicitly tells us awaits all true believers and faithful  disciples:     
In the world you will have tribulation.
And indeed, what tribulation there is in our world today!  I do not intend to speak of wars and rumours of wars; rather I want to highlight the tribulation in the hearts of so many people -- all of them potentially good -- many of whom, however, are sadly being turned aside from what is good by the turmoil around them seeping into what should be the peaceful inner-temple of their being and making of it a den of clamorous thieves.
In our modern world opinions are changing endlessly and seem, at times, to be endowed with such great powers of attraction or momentum as to bring into question, or even sweep aside, what had previously seemed incontestable, immovable, and inviolable, with the result that many find it extremely difficult to hold on to a constant, firm, and abiding faith.
Again, in our affluent society there is so much, regarded by the world as truly desirable and worthwhile, apparently on offer, but for how long will such things be available when change seems unforeseeable and irresistible?   In such circumstances the temptation is great, especially for the young, the needy, and those who are troubled, to seize what is there and on offer before it disappears and is lost without their having tasted it?  In such a milieu, how foreign and out of touch does a religion seem which would have us content ourselves with what, ultimately, is only a promise or foretaste for our present earthly appreciation and encouragement of the full satisfaction reserved for our hoped-for heavenly being.
Again, when power and influence can be bought by money; when multitudes are swept along by popular tides of enthusiasm stirred up by preachers of vengeance, purveyors of pleasure, together with the debilitating influence of an increasingly strident media; when rights are proclaimed and responsibilities ignored; when might is right and popularity cannot be challenged; when the would-be are cajoled into a pseudo-holiness without real faith or true commitment or emboldened to display a brash and brassy faith without humility or fear; when, to sum it up, we are surrounded by so many claims and contradictions, so many false options and easy escapes, that many find it extremely difficult to even imagine let alone recognize any supreme authority of enduring permanence or significance for mankind’s salvation.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
The joy of peace, the hope of good cheer, the strength of confidence, these are essentials for us today as perhaps never before.
Now our readings today can certainly help us with regard to such essential and basic joy, hope, and confident strength, for St. Paul explains how we are always confident: for the believer walks according to a sure faith, he is confident through faith, that is, he trusts in the Lord and is well-pleased, content, with the proofs the Lord has afforded us and the hope to which He calls us: as St. Paul puts it,  with the prospect the Spirit offers us of one day becoming absent from the (earthly) body and present (at home) with the Lord.
We, disciples of Jesus, being endowed with the gift of the Holy Spirit as God’s gracious Gift and pledge of His continuing and abiding love:
Aspire to please Him (Who calls us by His Spirit).
Now, that Christian trust and contentment is pictured in Our Lord’s first parable today:
The kingdom of God is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land, and would sleep and rise night and day, and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.   Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.
The sower does not know how the planting he has made develops to fruition: it takes place whether he himself is waking or sleeping.  Notice however, that before God he continues to play his part precisely by waiting for the Lord and trusting in Him, before being ultimately available and prepared to gather in the resultant harvest.
Jesus gave extra-special emphasis to contentment before God in His second parable: no longer are many handfuls of seeds being scattered but just one single mustard seed, the smallest seed of all.  The apparent insignificance of the beginning is no hindrance to the final realization of God’s plan: that tiny seed can grow into “the biggest shrub of them all”.
Ezekiel also has words for our guidance and comfort.  He told us of the Lord’s dealings with faithless Israel; she had broken the covenant made with God and had received her punishment: banishment from the Promised Land.  Only a remnant were left behind in the land once known as Promised and they swore to obey their conquerors.  What a fall from the proud kingdom of David and Solomon!  Nevertheless, with trust in the Lord Who, as the Psalmist says:
            Upholds all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down, (Ps. 145:14)
there could have been a future for them.  But, in the event, there was no trust in the Lord: the remnant broke the oath of obedience to their conquerors, just as the whole nation had, before them, broken their covenant with the Lord Himself, and they turned to Egypt for human help.  They were not content with the Lord’s provision, they wanted – with the help of Egypt – to win for themselves something apparently bigger and better.  It did not turn out as they had planned, and the Lord spoke through Ezekiel the oracle we heard in the first reading:
Thus says the Lord GOD: "I, too, will take from the crest of cedar, from its topmost branches tear off, a tender shoot, and place it on a high and lofty mountain; on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.  It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar. Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it; every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.  And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom.  As I, the LORD, have spoken so will I do."
A beautiful prophecy concerning Our Lord, ‘a tender shoot’ from the crest of the cedar (of Israel): Jesus, Son of Mary and of the House of David.  He was planted on the Cross on the Hill of Calvary just outside Jerusalem on the heights of Judah, and He subsequently produced branches and became a splendid cedar as His  disciples spread His Word abroad and established His Church throughout the world, that Church in which you and I, People of God, find shelter from the storms of sin and tribulation, and comfort and hope for our souls.
All this was again reflected in the Responsorial Psalm (92:12) where we heard:
The just one shall flourish like the palm tree, like a cedar in Lebanon shall He grow.
Who are these just ones?   The Psalmist foresaw the disciples of Jesus, who, in the power of His Spirit would be confident through faith, that is, trusting in their Lord and content, well-pleased, with the hope set before them in the promises He had made to them and which were already being fulfilled in them through the Spirit He had given them; and from a distance of centuries he hails and greets them with these words:
Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.   Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.   He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.   (Ps 37:3-7)
The world hates you; but be of good cheer I have overcome the world.
How strange that we should be of good cheer though the world hates us!  It is a fact that our sophisticated, affluent, proud and self-sufficient, faith-rejecting Western world hates us and the teachings of Jesus we both proudly profess and faithfully proclaim.   And it is because of this modern-day hatred that we should indeed be of good cheer because this hatred proves the truth of Jesus’ words and encourages us to recognize that He has indeed overcome the world.
People of God, pray with renewed insistence and solicitude for our world where so many are suffering because they do not hear the truth, because they are being fed with lies and given poison to drink, and let us give heart-felt thanks to God that He has led us into the company of those called and empowered to trust in the Lord at all times, and under all circumstances to be well-pleased and supremely content with the hope His Spirit stirs up within us.