Saturday, November 14, 2009

NOVEMBER 15 SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT


NOVEMBER 15

SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT,
BISHOP AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Biographical Information about St. Albert the Great[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Albert the Great

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING
Sirach 15:1-6

He who fears the LORD will do this;
he who is practiced in the law will come to wisdom.
Motherlike she will meet him,
like a young bride she will embrace him,
Nourish him with the bread of understanding,
and give him the water of learning to drink.
He will lean upon her and not fall,
he will trust in her and not be put to shame.
She will exalt him above his fellows;
and in the midst of the assembly she will open his mouth
and fill him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
and clothe him with the robe of glory.
Joy and gladness he will find,
an everlasting name he will inherit.
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Commentary on
Sir 15:1-6

In this passage the son of Sirach (author of the work) extols the search for Wisdom and the blessings that come from it. He personifies wisdom as the bride who will support and guide the one who wins her. In prior verses Wisdom is connected with adherence to the Law; here that pursuit will provide him with honor in the eyes of God.

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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
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.
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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.

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GOSPEL
Matthew 13:47-52

Jesus said to the crowds:
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Do you understand all these things?"
They answered, "Yes."
And he replied,
"Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom
both the new and the old."
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Commentary on
Mt 13:47-52

Jesus concludes his discourse about the Kingdom of Heaven with a final parable about the fisherman’s net. He then makes reference to the disciples’ (and their successor’s) role as “Christian scribes” or teachers of the Kingdom of God. In his description he refers to the “new and the old” being brought out. This reference is to the new teaching from Jesus and the old from the Law and Prophets. The concluding statement emphasizes the importance of the duty of those who instruct the faithful to bring the fullness of the meaning of scripture incorporating not only the vision of the old testament but the fulfillment of it in the light of Christ.

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Reflection:

In a time where the scientific communities in mainstream universities are doing all they can to, not only dispel belief in God, but to destroy the very idea that the Creator even exists, we need to recall the giants of the past. Saint Albert the Great was one of these giants upon whose shoulders the current scientists must stand in order to advance their understanding of the natural world (quoting Michael Crichton, author of numerous works of science fiction). The main difference, of course, is that St. Albert was the consummate man of God. In the mid to late 1200’s when he lived he was known as "teacher of everything there is to know," a true “Renaissance man.” He was one of those great gifts to the Church that inspired others to greatness, including some of the very greatest like St. Thomas Aquinas, whose mentor he was.

Unlike many in the scientific community today, he did not look at nature and see a puzzle to be solved. He did not see a plant or an insect as mere organisms to classify or objects to genetically engineer to make different. He saw the natural world as we all should; as the ultimate proof that God exists and has great love for us. And scientific pursuit was an extension of his spiritual pursuits, just another avenue to understand the God he loved and whose son he adored.

The Gospel of St. Matthew tells us the Jesus had great expectations of those who taught others about His Heavenly Father. He calls upon them to be great fishers of men. St. Albert teaches us the nobility of accepting that charge and shows us the courage to stand behind his faith and source of wisdom. On this his feast day we give thanks to God for the gift of individuals who use their intellect for God’s greater glory, like St. Albert. And, because we are convinced that he stands in the sanctuary of the Heavenly Kingdom, we ask for his prayers. May we never fall prey to the arrogance of those who believe they can understand all existence without the creator’s aid.

Pax

[1] The picture is “Albertus Magnus “ by Tommaso da Modena, 1352
[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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