Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Luke. He was a doctor, of course, and he wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Perhaps because of his intelligence, his is the most polished of all the gospels, and his mind might also be what compelled him to write the only real “history” book we have in the bible (the Acts). His symbol is the ox, because he his gospel pays special attention to the sacrifice Christ made for us and the life of sacrifice we must offer back to him.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch is our saint today. The first time we hear the word “catholic” used to refer to the community of disciples was by this man in 107 AD. Jesus broke down every barrier. First he influenced the lives of his disciples, then the Palestinian Jews (those in the “homeland”), then the Hellenistic Jews and those in the diaspora, then the Samaritans, then the Gentiles. The word “gentile” simple means “nations.” Jesus came to touch the lives of everyone, all the nations. The movement he began–it was quite extraordinary. It became known as a “catholic” movement because it was intended for everybody, not just those in one particular region or ethnic group, and in those days people generally didn’t live too much outside of their groups. The first Jerusalem Council congregated to basically consider: how will we take this message, the message of Christ, to everyone, to all the gentiles, all the lands. The Catholic Church could have no better name. We are the church for everyone and everywhere. The arms are open to everyone, which is why St. Peter’s Square looks like it does: the arms are open to everyone.
Today we celebrate St. Margaret Mary. During a series of revelations, Christ informed her that she was His chosen instrument to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart. The Lord instructed her in her visions about the devotion that was to become known as First Fridays. Jesus also asked that the feast of the Sacred Heart be established. It eventually did.
The First Friday of each month was designated by our Savior Himself as a day to be consecrated to honoring His Sacred Heart. First Fridays is comprised of:
- The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation
- Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Act of Reparation
- The Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:
- “I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.”
- “I will establish peace in their homes.”
- “I will comfort them in their afflictions.”
- “I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death.”
- “I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings.”
- “Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.”
- “Tepid souls shall grow fervent.”
- “Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.”
- “I will bless every place where a picture of My Heart shall be set up and honored.”
- “I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.”
- “Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.”
- “I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”
Today we celebrate St. Teresa of Avila. Our Gospel tells how we are always in search of one thing, but then we are confronted with “something better.” The Gospel today notes that people were willing to go to the ends of the earth to hear the words of Solomon, but there is “something greater than Solomon here.” And we hear about the powerful preaching of Jonah, but we also then hear how there is “something greater than Jonah here.” Teresa of Avila was always looking for that “something greater.” Let’s do the same.
Today our Gospel tells us something interesting: we can’t take our salvation for granted. Jesus assures us that it takes work to be faithful, to get to heaven. Jesus opened up the doors to heaven – he made it possible that we might get there – but it still takes our cooperation to walk through those doors, to live a life that goes there.
Today we see this rich young man in the gospel – he wants to go to heaven, a good desire. His problem is he wants to know the bare minimum. What do I HAVE to do to get there? What are the requirements? And Jesus spells out the commandments as a starting point, to which the guy says, I already do that pretty much. Then Jesus says, Ah yes, but you haven’t given me everything. That’s what I want. I don’t want the minimum, the leftovers. I want it all. Jesus wants it all. The rich young man leaves Jesus, thinking his possessions matter more.
The rich young man gives us an example of what NOT to do. But in this month of October, we honor a woman who shows us very much what TO DO. October is the month of Mary. We Catholics love Mary — and so did the first Protestants by the way (read Luther and Calvin and Henry VIII). We have statues in and outside our churches and schools, in and outside our homes, we have images of her everywhere, votive candles in front of her, we have rosaries and pictures. We love Mary. That’s why I’ve put a big statue out front on Broadway, why we’re getting votive candles here, and all kinds of things.
The Angel told Joseph, don’t be afraid to take Mary into your home. Jesus from his cross told John and by extension all the disciples to follow: BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER. He says YOUR mother, not MY mother, though she was his mother too. Jesus is telling us: Mary is your mom! Look at her! Cherish her! Keep her ever in your mind!
And why these messages from God?? Why all the “Mary stuff” in our homes and churches??? Because Mary is someone who GAVE GOD EVERYTHING. And maybe – just maybe – the more we look at a woman who gave Jesus everything, the more we might do the same. When we look at Blessed Mother, we see someone who, unlike the rich young man, gave Jesus everything.
The more we look at Mary, the more generous we are with our lives. Sometimes people say, how late can I come to mass and it still count? how early can i leave? how many times do i have to go to confession? how much do I have to give? How many volunteer hours do I have to do? etc etc etc
But all these questions fade when we give Jesus everything.
This consecration bracelet that I wear – it is a reminder that I am consecrated to Jesus through Mary. We’re going to start a consecration group soon, details after Mass. But the point is that we are consecrated to God (not Mary!) – set aside for the holy – through Mary, the model of perfect discipleship. I can’t wait for this!
We go through Mary for a host of reasons. The biggest one – just look at Jesus’ first miracle in the gospel. The wine runs out at Cana, and Mary intercedes. Jesus works the miracle, but only after Mary intervenes. If you ever need a miracle, to Mary and she’ll take it to Jesus.
We can go to Jesus directly of course, but why avoid Blessed Mother? When God wanted to come to earth, he didn’t avoid her; he came through her! It’s the same in reverse folks! When we want to go to heaven, we shouldn’t avoid Mary; we go through her!
Let us model our discipleship after the example of Our dear, dear mother Mary.
What a beautiful photo below! Catholics of all kinds love Mary, young and old. Just as Jesus loves Mary. Why do we go through Mary? Because God, when coming here to us on earth, came through Mary. He could have come directly. He chose to go through a woman, and so we honor her because God honored her.
Today’s psalm: “The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.” How fitting that there should be this rainbow above church before Sunday Mass: