Friday, April 4, 2008


St. Isidore
by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c.~1850


Additional Information about St. Isidore[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Isidore

Readings and Commentary: [2]

Reading 1
2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-7
Brothers and sisters:
Since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us,
we are not discouraged.
Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things;
not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God,
but by the open declaration of the truth
we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.
For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.
For God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to bring to light
the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.
But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
Commentary on 2 Cor 4:1-2, 5-7

St. Paul speaks of his own ministry to the people of Corinth. Using his actions as an example, he makes the case for repentance (“…we have renounced shameful, hidden things”) and against false teachers (“…not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God”). Paul then uses the “light in the darkness” metaphor. He seems to be thinking of Genesis 1:3 and presenting his apostolic ministry as a new creation. In his final statement he makes it clear that it is for God’s glory in Christ that he proclaims this message and that the messenger himself is the humble “earthen vessel.”

CCC: 2 Cor 4:6 298, 2583; 2 Cor 4:7 1420
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 37:3-4, 5-6, 30-31

R. (30a) The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

Trust in the Lord and do good,
that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.
Take delight in the Lord
and he will grant you your heart's requests.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

Commit to the Lord your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.

The mouth of the just tells of wisdom
and his tongue utters what is right.
The law of his God is in his heart,
and his steps do not falter.
R. The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom.
Commentary on Ps 37:3-4, 5-6, 30-31

This selection of Psalm 37 (the main thrust or which is –evil is passing but God and His Law are eternal) exhorts the listener to trust in God and the “light” of truth will show the way of righteousness. The psalm appropriately extols the true teaching of God.
Gospel Luke 6:43-45
Jesus said to his disciples:
"A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."
Commentary on Lk 6:43-45

St. Luke’s Gospel brings us the conclusion of Jesus’ discourse on judgment of others, using the analogy of the fruits borne by a tree, good and bad. The intent of this allegory was to expose false prophets, hypocrites who say one thing but do another. "What matters is not whether or not we wear a religious habit, it is whether we try to practice the virtues, surrender our will to God, and order our lives as His Majesty ordains, and not want to do our will but his" (St Teresa of Avila, "Interior Castle", II, 6). [3]

The second section of this reading is the conclusion of Jesus’ long discourse. He uses the analogy of the house built upon sand and the house built upon rock to indicate that those who have a deep faith and act out of that faith have a strong foundation and can stand against adversity, while those who give the faith lip service for others to see, but do not have that deep faith, will fall.

On the memorial of St. Isidore, one of the great Doctors of the Church we are given scripture that speaks consistently of proclaiming God’s spirit authentically. St. Isidore, who was called the most learned person of his age, displayed his heroic virtue by tirelessly proclaiming the authentic teaching of Christ in the face of barbaric traditions brought in by the Goths as well as numerous heresies (Arianism and Acephales) that threatened the faithful in his charge.

This saint, often called “Last of the Great Latin Fathers”, was referred to by many of his contemporaries and being raised up by God to rescue Spain from Barbarism and superstition. His example, coupled with the exhortation of Christ from St. Luke’s Gospel above, give us both a mission and a responsibility.

The responsibility is for us to understand our faith well enough that we can recognize when people claiming to teach it are in error (either through ignorance or malice). This is especially true if we have children in our care. As adult members of the Christian community we are charged to be the first and best teachers of our children in the practice of the faith. It is a promise and charge we accept willingly at their baptism. How can we teach them well if we do not know our subject matter?

For those of us who need only worry about our own orthodoxy, we too have an obligation to educate ourselves. How can we follow the Lord faithfully if we do not know where he leads us? St. Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom of God and told that “whatever you hold as bound, will be bound.” The Church has handed this down carefully and faithfully for two millennia. Can we ignore or trivialize the most spiritually rich saints she has given us?

The mission we have been given is the same one St. Paul speaks of as he addresses the church at Corinth. We too are given the responsibility to “light shinning out in the darkness”. Through our words and actions we, like St. Paul and like St. Isidore are asked to take the Good News to the world. Today we pray for the strength, knowledge and zeal to take this message to those we meet.


Please Pray for Esther.

[1] The picture is St. Isidore by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c.~1850
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[3] The Navarre Bible, “Gospels and Acts”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 396

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