Friday, October 23, 2009


“St. John Capistrano”
by Alois Niederstätter: c. 1400s 


Biographical Information about St. John of Capistrano [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. John of Capistrano

Readings and Commentary:

2 Corinthians 5:14-20

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.

Commentary on
2 Cor 5:14-20

This passage from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians has a distinctly sacramental flavor. First he speaks of dying with Christ, becoming one with him in the spirit. This occurs in the sacrament of Baptism. The whole idea of being reconciled to God in Christ is inherent in the Sacrament of Confirmation and concluded in the Eucharist. These of course are the three sacraments of Christian Initiation.

CCC: 2 Cor 5:14 616, 851; 2 Cor 5:15 605, 655, 1269; 2 Cor 5:17 1214, 1265; 2 Cor 5:17-18 1999; 2 Cor 5:18-21 2844; 2 Cor 5:18 981, 1442, 1461; 2 Cor 5:19 433, 620; 2 Cor 5:20 859, 1424, 1442
Psalm 16:1b-2a and 5, -8, 11

R. (see 5a) You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, "My Lord are you."
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.

R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.

R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Commentary on
Ps 16:1b-2a and 5, -8, 11

Psalm 16 is an individual hymn of praise.  The psalmist prays that God will shield the faithful from harm and expresses confidence in the Lord’s salvation; closing the passage with praise for God’s loving mercy.  This selection is structured to support the Pauline ideal of placing God first in the life of the psalmist, their greatest possession being loved by God and loving God in return.


Luke 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey
someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus answered him,
"Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
And to another he said, "Follow me."
But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God."
And another said, "I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
He said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God."

Commentary on
Lk 9:57-62

This passage from St. Luke’s Gospel gives us three sayings of Jesus about the requirement to place the values of Christian discipleship above all other requirements of life. Proclaiming the Kingdom of God must come before even family obligations.

In the first, “Foxes have dens…” Jesus does not deceive anyone – he lives in poverty, dedicated to his mission.

The second, “Let the dead bury their dead,” is a play on words: let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead. Jesus message is the message of life. This saying was never intended to be taken literally as filial piety is deeply ingrained in Jewish life.

In the third saying; “No one who…looks to what was left behind,” Jesus demands more than Elisha (see 1 Kings 19:19-21). “Plowing for the Kingdom demands sacrifice.”[3]
CCC: Lk 9:58 544

What strikes us most directly when looking at the legacy of St. John of Capistrano is his personal vision of what a priest must be. His writings make it clear that in an age where abuses among clergy were common (June 24, 1386 – October 23, 1456), St. John was a voice calling for holiness He saw the role of the Priest as an imitation of Christ’s character, holy and blameless striving always to emulate the humility and honesty demonstrated by the Lord.

It is appropriate that on his feast day the Roman Missal provides us with Jesus’ instructions regarding the priorities of the Christian disciple. First is the emphasis on material poverty; when he tells his followers “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head” he makes it clear that his kingdom is not of this world and that ownership of property may not be something that ties him down.

Next he is emphatic about the primacy of the Lord in the life of his disciples. When he tells one who would follow him he must attend to his family, Jesus makes it clear that God’s work must come above family. This saying makes a good argument for the celibate priesthood as a Priest must dedicate so much of his life to the spiritual wellbeing of the flock he is given to shepherd.

Finally Luke’s Gospel records the Lord’s demand that his followers are called to sacrifice. Being a member of Christ’s priesthood requires great sacrifice. The priest’s service must be a genuine gift to God’s people on their behalf. As St. John says in one of his letters; “By the brightness of their holiness they must bring light and serenity to all who gaze upon them.”

Today we ask for St. John’s prayers; may we too bring light to the world through our holiness. We also pray for all who live in the clerical state. May they be infused with a spirit of holiness and be salt for the earth.


[1] The picture is “St. John Capistrano” by Alois Niederstätter: c. 1400s 
[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.
[3] See Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, Inc., © 1968, 44:97.
[4] Pars I, Venetiae 1580, 2

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