Tuesday, December 22, 2009

DECEMBER 23 SAINT JOHN OF KANTY


 
“Miracle by St. John of Kanty"
by Tadeusz Kuntze-Konicz, c. 1765 
DECEMBER 23

SAINT JOHN OF KANTY, PRIEST
 

Biographical Information about St. John Kanty[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. John Kanty

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING
 
James 2:14-17

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
"Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,"
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it?
So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.
 

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Commentary on
Jas 2:14-17

We are given St. James famous "faith without works” monologue. The author lays the foundation for the Church’s understanding of justification through both faith and actions (to be clear, justified in this context means: “the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin”[3]).

"The theme of these verses is the relationship of faith and works (deeds). It has been argued that the concept of justification expressed here contradicts that of Paul (see especially Romans 4:5-6). The problem can only be understood if the different viewpoints of the two authors are seen. Paul argues against those who claim to participate in God's salvation because of their good deeds as well as because they have committed themselves to trust in God through Jesus Christ (Paul's concept of faith). Paul certainly understands, however, the implications of true faith for a life of love and generosity (see Galatians 5:6, 13-15). The author of James is well aware that proper conduct can only come about with an authentic commitment to God in faith (James 2:18, 26). Many think he was seeking to correct a misunderstanding of Paul's view.” [4]
 
CCC: Jas 2:14-26 162; Jas 2:15-16 2447
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
 
Psalm 112:1bc-2, 3-4, 5-7, 6-8, 9

R. (1) Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

 
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 fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

 
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 fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

 
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 fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

 
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 fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

 
Lavishly he gives to the poor,
his generosity shall endure forever,
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
 

R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
 

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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 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.

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GOSPEL
 
Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
"To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
"Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you."
 

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Commentary on
Lk 6:27-38

This passage from St. Luke’s Gospel continues the Sermon on the Plain. In this section, Jesus extends the commandment to love one’s neighbor to include one’s enemy, breaking new ground in the interpretation of Mosaic Law. What follows is an extension of each of the laws governing hospitality and continues by extending even the judicial laws that govern dispute resolution. In the conclusion of this section, the Lord exhorts the disciples to embrace forgiveness, saying, “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.

CCC: Lk 6:28 1669; Lk 6:31 1789, 1970; Lk 6:36 1458, 2842
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Reflection:

The Feast of the Patron Saint of Poland occupies a new place of honor on the Roman Calendar, having been moved from October 20th to December 23rd, the eve of Christmas eve, thus extending the Polish celebration of the Lord’s Nativity to include this exemplar of the lived Gospel of Christ. From a very young age he displayed to qualities of humility and gentleness that distinguished him and made him beloved throughout his life.

While St. John of Kanty was completely devoted to the Lord’s commands, giving all he owned to the poor and seeking only the greater glory of God with his works, he did not feel called to parish service, feeling that the call to be a pastor was above his ability. This interesting discovery should give us all a sense of the difficulty and challenges of parish ministry, which has grown even more difficult in the modern era. That one so holy and pious should feel unworthy to assume such a post is humbling indeed for those called to assume the shepherd’s role.

St. James emphasizes that faith without works is meaningless. We are invited to follow the example of humble service demonstrated by the Apostles and Jesus. We use the example of Saints like St. John of Kanty to show us the depths to which that invitation extends. It would have been easy for St. John to lead the comfortable life of a scholar (a vocation, because of his intellect, open to him). Yet he gave all he owned to the poor living a humble life, arduously simple. He took upon himself all the sacrifice demanded of the poor in the harsh world of the early 1400’s and maintained his happy and composed demeanor throughout.

Today, even as we look forward to the humble birth of our Savior, we ask for the intercessions of St. John of Kanty. May we accept the burdens of our lives with grace and offer our sacrifice to the Lord, who from his birth came as the ultimate sacrifice that saves us all.

Pax


[1] The picture is “Miracle by St. John of Kanty" by Tadeusz Kuntze-Konicz, c. 1765 
[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] WordReference.com
[3] See NAB footnote on James 2:14-26

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