Sunday, December 13, 2009


“St. John of the Cross”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN 


Biographical Information about St. John of the Cross[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. John of the Cross

Readings and Commentary:

1 Corinthians 2:1-10a

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.
Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
but not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew
for, if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,
this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

Commentary on
1 Cor 2:1-10a

As part of his defense of his own Apostolate, St. Paul describes, in rather convoluted terms, an out-of-body experience (although it is described as “a man in Christ,” he is referring to himself) where he was taken to heaven (the “third heaven” is the place where God dwells; the first is earth, the second the stars).  In his vision, he was given “ineffable things,” privileged information that could not be repeated. Rather than helping him, these revelations brought persecution, “a thorn in the flesh.” The Apostle uses a Christ-like response to physical and rhetorical challenges by saying that through his weakness and humility, he is given the power of the Holy Spirit to carry on the Lord’s work.

CCC: 1 Cor 2:7-16 221; 1 Cor 2:7-9 1998; 1 Cor 2:8 446, 498, 598; 1 Cor 2:9 1027; 1 Cor 2:10-15 2038; 1 Cor 2:10-11 152

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 request.

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

Psalm 37 is a lament containing the plea to be faithful to God and remain steadfast in the time of adversity. The psalmist sings that the faith of the people will bring them salvation and that the Lord is faithful and intercedes for them against the wicked. Salvation comes from the Lord alone is the common message.

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.

Luke 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
"If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
W^hich of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.'
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple."

Commentary on
Lk 14:25-33

The Lord, perhaps in an action intended to identify those who had the zeal to be true disciples, tells the crowd of the necessity of total dedication to the call to discipleship. They had seen his recent miracles of healing, and were, no doubt, hoping to learn wisdom from him.

He tells them that they must place their love of God first, before family and even their own lives. He tells them, through two examples – the construction of the tower and the evaluation of the battle – that they must measure the sacrifice needed to be his follower. He punctuates his statement by telling them they must “renounce” all their possessions to follow him.

CCC: Lk 14:26 1618; Lk 14:33 2544

How much of ourselves we can give up to follow Christ is a very personal and individual decision and ability. Some who find a vocation to religious life or the Priesthood give up much. They take vows of poverty and celibacy in order that they may give themselves completely to the service of the Gospel. The gift of self to Christ is demonstrated in its extremes by some of the Saints. St. John of the Cross stands out as a shining example. From his earliest years he sought the means to give himself completely to God. He adopted the most severe lifestyle seeking to empty himself completely so he could be filled up with God’s spirit.

From this gift came a legacy of literature that enriches the deposit of faith that is the treasure of the Church’s Magisterium. True to his teaching, it seems that St. John, by denying the earth, opened his heart to God’s Kingdom. So filled was that heart that it poured out its learning onto the written page.

In St. John we see the Gospel passage from St. Luke lived out in the extreme. In studying the life the Saint and Doctor, we also see that when one gives up everything to follow Christ, the cross he bore manifests itself very clearly in life.

Today we ask for the intercession of St. John of the Cross: may his prayers help us to conform our lives more closely to Christ and thereby bring some semblance of God’s Heavenly Kingdom to those we meet.


[1] The picture is “St. John of the Cross” 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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