Saturday, August 1, 2009




Biographical Information about St. Alphonsus Liguori [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori

Readings and Commentary:

Romans 8:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has freed you from the law of sin and death.
For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do,
this God has done:
by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
Commentary on
Rom 8:1-4

St. Paul expands upon the idea that through the Law of Moses sin entered the world. This occurred through the existential mechanism of defining sin. Here he expresses the idea that only through Christ Jesus can one be freed from sin and death. The Law of Moses cannot accomplish this freedom, is “powerless to do so” since it is “weakened by the flesh”; that is implemented as it is understood by mankind. Christ, who came to fulfill the law, provides the means of freedom from sin and death for Christians, since they live in the spirit, coming to righteousness.

CCC: Rom 8:2 782; Rom 8:3 602
Psalm 119:9,10,11,12,13,14

R. (12) Lord, teach me your statutes.

How shall a young man be faultless in his way?
By keeping to your words.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

Within my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not sin against you.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

In the way of your decrees I rejoice,
as much as in all riches.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Commentary on
Ps 119:9,10,11,12,13,14

An acrostic poem; each of the eight verses of the first strophe (aleph) begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet; each verse of the second strophe (beth) begins with the second letter; and so on for all 22 letters of the alphabet.

The entire work is in praise of the Law, and the joys to be found in keeping it. It is not "legalism" but a love and desire for the word of God in Israel's Law, which is the expression of the Lord's revelation of himself and his will for man.

Matthew 5:13-19

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven."
Commentary on Mt 5:13-19

In this selection from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus uses allegory to push the Word of God into the world. He tells his disciples they are an integral part of the faith of the people in God. As seasoning is to food, so is the Word of God to the faith. They must remain steadfast so they do not lose the zeal for God that is the taste of that seasoning. It is the taste which sets it apart.

He uses a second allegory, light, to provide still more direction. The light of faith will be seen by all because it is reflected in the actions of those who believe. The light of faith serves to guide others to God, where they may otherwise become lost in darkness and wander into paths of desolation. The light that pours from the disciples will be seen as a gift, not from them, but from the Father, and the Father will be glorified because of the light.

Those who believed that Jesus came to destroy the Jewish faith and laws are refuted in the next part of the passage. The Lord tells them that he did not come to destroy the Law of Moses, even though he disagreed with the way some of those laws were being implemented. Rather he came to fulfill it; essentially he gave the law a reinterpretation through his own revelation.

CCC: Mt 5:13-16 782, 2821; Mt 5:14 1243; Mt 5:16 326; Mt 5:17-19 577, 592, 1967; Mt 5:17 2053

St. Alphonsus Liguori provides us with a remarkable example of what can be accomplished when we use God’s gifts to his glory. He was given a great intellect, demonstrated by the fact that he had completed with his university education by the time he was 16, and was a renowned lawyer in Naples by the time he was 21. All of this success fired the saint’s discernment of God’s will, and by 28 he discovered his vocation and was ordained a priest. He then took that formidable intellect and put it to work in God’s service, earning the love of the faithful and the enmity of many in secular power who saw religion as competition to their dreams of power.

Scripture points out that, the words “Law” and “Justice” are not synonymous. The Law of Moses provided a framework of behavior and interaction for the Hebrews. It did not, as St. Paul is quick to point, provide a means of salvation, merely morality. St. Alphonsus sought justice through Christ. He focused on the Lord’s law of love, and life in the spirit. This is a great help to us who seek, like him, to serve Jesus’ will.

All of this vital energy he poured out in service of Christ. He was a great light to the world. By word and example he pressed forward in our shared mission of bringing God’s Kingdom to earth. His fire, dedication, and commitment to Christ provide us with a shining testament to what can be accomplished in the Lord’s name.

[1] The picture used is “St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori” Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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