Sunday, December 20, 2009

DECEMBER 21 SAINT PETER CANISIUS

“St. Peter Canisius”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
DECEMBER 21

SAINT PETER CANISIUS, PRIEST AND DOCTOR
OF THE CHURCH
 

Biographical Information about St. Peter Canisius[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Peter Canisius

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING

2 Timothy 4:1-5

Beloved:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but,
following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
put up with hardship;
perform the work of an evangelist;
fulfill your ministry.

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Commentary on
2 Tm 4:1-5

The Apostle begins this chapter with a solemn injunction to St. Timothy: “…perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.“ He emphasizes the need to “proclaim the word” persistently and in spite of the barriers he will encounter. St. Paul warns that the task will be difficult and that false teachers will arise with competing doctrines and “myths.”

CCC: 2 Tm 4 2015; 2 Tm 4:1 679
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
 
Psalm 40:2 and 4, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
 

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, "Behold I come."
 

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

"In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!"
 

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
 

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.
 

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
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Commentary on
Ps 40:2 and 4, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

Psalm 40 is a song of thanksgiving. Emphasis is placed on the call by God and response by the psalmist. Salvation is for those whose hearts and actions proclaim their faithfulness, not those who only offer sacrifice without atonement. The initial waiting is satisfied by favor shown by God to one who is faithful in service to Him. Praise and thanksgiving are given to God whose justice is applied to all.


CCC: Ps 40:2 2657; Ps 40:7-9 LXX 462; Ps 40:7 2824
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GOSPEL
 
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."

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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
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Reflection:

 
We are told directly by St. Matthew’s Gospel that the Lord did not call us to simply be at peace and to ignore the world around us. He called us as his adopted children, and as such we are all given a piece of his mission: the Father’s mission which was given to him. It was to fulfill this mission he was sent to earth. It was to reveal the Father’s love and to establish his Kingdom on earth that he came.

His mission is passed on first to his Apostles and, in an on-going initiative, it is handed down to Holy Mother Church as her face seen by the world. In the history of the Church, some of God’s servants have accepted this call to be a “lamp set on a lampstand” enthusiastically. Such a servant was St. Peter Canisius. He used all of his faculties, oral and written, to advance the work of the Church. He tirelessly proclaimed the truth in a world torn by schism and doubt, driving a stake in the sand with his catechism. He enlightened thousands with his own light of truth.

The same gospel calls us today. We, like St. Peter Canisius, are asked to carry the truth into a world that embraces the lies of false gods and the easy words of the evil one. We are given his example to follow, and now we ask for his prayers of intercession as well. May he, who stands in the heavenly court with all the choirs of angels and saints, ask our Heavenly Father to strengthen our faith and give us the words to carry his truth to the farthest reaches of the world, so that his Kingdom may flourish and his spirit come to all the word.

Pax

[1] The picture is “St. Peter Canisius” Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL).  This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

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