Wednesday, November 4, 2009


“St Carlo Borromeo”
by Orazio Borgianni, 1611-12


 Biographical Information about St. Charles Borromeo[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo

Readings and Commentary:

Romans 12:3-13

Brothers and sisters:
By the grace given to me I tell everyone among you
not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think,
but to think soberly,
each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned.
For as in one body we have many parts,
and all the parts do not have the same function,
so we, though many, are one Body in Christ
and individually parts of one another.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,
let us exercise them:
if prophecy, in proportion to the faith;
if ministry, in ministering;
if one is a teacher, in teaching;
if one exhorts, in exhortation;
if one contributes, in generosity;
if one is over others, with diligence;
if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal,
be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality.

Commentary on Rom 12:3-13

St. Paul speaks to a community that is one in faith in Christ. He tells the community that in their union the gifts of each must serve the needs of all and these gifts need to be exercised. The Evangelist uses the analogy of the “Body” (the Body of Christ) with each part of the body serving an important purpose though each different from the others. In the second part of the selection the Evangelist gives a litany of exhortations to live the love of Christ, following his command to love one another sincerely and to forgive those who persecute them.

CCC: Rom 12-15 1454, 1971; Rom 12:4 1142; Rom 12:5 1372; Rom 12:5 1372; Rom 12:6-8 2004; Rom 12:6 114; Rom 12:8 2039; Rom 12:9-13 1971; Rom 12:11 2039; Rom 12:12 1820
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 21-22, 25 and 27

R. (5) Blessed the man who lends to those in need.

Blessed the man who fears the LORD,

who greatly delights in his commands.

His posterity shall be might upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who lends to those in need.

Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R. Blessed the man who lends to those in need.

Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who lends to those in need.

An evil report he shall not fear,
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear
till he looks down upon his foes.
R. Blessed the man who lends to those in need.

Lavishly he gives to the poor,
his generosity shall endure forever,
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who lends to those in need.
Commentary on Ps 112:1bc-2, 3-4, 5-7, 6-8, 9
This hymn of praise and thanksgiving from Psalm 112 commends the people faithful to the Law of Moses. The one who is blameless in the eyes of God does not fear those from his community or others since the Lord is his protector. A repeating theme is the praise of those who are generous to the poor and poor in spirit.


John 10:11-16

Jesus said:
"I am the good shepherd.
good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd."

Commentary on Jn 10:11-16

We come to the climax of Jesus' debates with the Jewish leadership. He is in the temple precincts now. He came there at a time when many of those from all over the region would be there, the Feast of Hanukkah. Here he contrasts himself (the Good Shepherd) with false shepherds (see
Ezekiel 34:1-16), presumably the Pharisees who fail to recognize him. Using the analogy of the sheepfold, he reminds the listener that all manner of people may enter a sheepfold. Those “false shepherds” scatter the sheep and they fall to utter ruin. But only the rightful owner will be recognized by the sheep and find safety (salvation). The passage concludes with the universal statement of unity “…there will be one flock, one shepherd."

CCC: Jn 10:11-15 754; Jn 10:11 553, 754; Jn 10:16 60

As we consider the saint we memorialize today, Saint Charles Borromeo, we see God’s fingerprints on the formation of the Church and the example of heroic virtue of one used as God’s instrument. St. Charles arrived at a time of great turmoil. Born in 1538, he was brought into the world as the Church saw itself being torn apart during the great schism of the Reformation. He was born to a high station in life and at a time when he could easily have been corrupted by the secularism that marred the clergy of that era. Instead, at least in part due to a tremendous intellect, he embraced a life dedicated to challenging the status quo within clerical circles. His spirituality and energy were directed to transforming the Church, brining it back to its former purpose and rooting out practices that had stimulated Martin Luther to rebel.

It is hard for us to imagine the pressure that was brought to bear on St. Charles. But he listened to the words of the Gospel and, as St. John’s Gospel says, he laid his life down for his flock – giving all his worldly wealth to the people of Diocese for whom he was consecrated Bishop. It is his resistance to the inducements of secularism that are most striking for us as we do our best to live in the world today but hold fast to our Christian values.

We ask for the prayers of St. Charles on his feast-day. We ask that he intercede on our behalf, asking God to grant us strength to be steadfast in our faith (as he was) and to work tirelessly to bring about the fullness of his Kingdom on earth.


[1] The picture is “St Carlo Borromeo” by Orazio Borgianni, 1611-12
[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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