23 February 2010

Tuesday of the First Week in Lent (Extraordinary Form)

Introit: Psalm 89:1,2
Epistle: Isaias 55:6-11
Gospel: Matthew 21:10-17

Tu es

The Introit is most fitting for Lent. With words like, “Thou hast been our refuge” (Psalm 89:1) and from “eternity and to eternity Thou art God” (Psalm 89:2). It sort of previews Saint Peter’s proclamation: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). It intimates the journey that many souls go through: believing that the grass is greener on the other side; that true happiness can be found without God. And then through many failed attempts of finding true joy by our own means, we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s conversion process, and we enter the doors of the Church, coming back home like the prodigal son, confessing to the great “I am” that indeed “Thou art!”

Quærite Dominum
The prophet Isaias begins by taking us back to our own experiences of rebellion; of the ‘my way or the highway’ approach to the journey, what we experienced before we found the Truth at the Introit. The voices of heaven bombard our hearts saying: “Seek ye the Lord, while He may be found; call upon Him, while He is near” (Isaias 55:6). Conversion, however, is not a one time deal; it is an ongoing, daily process, thus the choirs of angels continue to sing these words in our hearts, with the hope that in the silence and solitude of our desert we will hear them.

He is bountiful to forgive
We are called home, to seek the Lord’s mercy. His ways are not our ways, for His ways and thoughts are far above our ways. But He calls us to His exaltedness. Through the liturgy He challenges us to raise our hearts to the liturgy of the New Jerusalem. This is why our experience of liturgy should be other worldly. Pope Benedict XVI has been catechizing the flock on the importance of liturgy being sacred since the beginning of his pontificate – and really, even before that as Cardinal Ratzinger.

We cannot serve both God and mammon
In the Gospel Jesus casts out those who were conducting business in the temple. Again we see by Divine Authority the teaching that what goes on in the world, should not take place within the space of worship. We live in the fabric of time but through the liturgy we are given a glimpse of eternity, that one supreme Sacrifice of our Savior re-presented. Jesus said: “My house shall be called the house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). And what is prayer if not the lifting up of our hearts and minds to God? It certainly is not the buying and selling of goods. Jesus also enters the temples of our souls; may He indeed cast out that which is not pleasing to Him.

The High Priest
At Mass we can physically see a priest who is in Persona Christi. As Jesus enters the temple in this Gospel account, it is truly the High Priest, with great solemnity, entering the house of His heavenly Father; and so it is at Mass. In the liturgy, Jesus is both High Priest and Victim.

Jesus the Prophet
The question is raised: “Quis est hic – Who is this?” (Matthew 21:10). It’s a question that perhaps the answer has yet to be fully revealed and will not be until we have arrived at our own experience of what “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The Holy spirit has told us, though, that what Jesus prepares for us has not even entered our hearts (cf. ibid.). In this Gospel account, the question is answered as: “This is Jesus the Prophet” (Matthew 21:11). Indeed He is, but as His own Lips have professed: “Behold, a greater than Jonas here – behold, a greater than Solomon here” (Matthew 12:42).

A great miracle
Saint Jerome hailed the casting out of the moneychangers as one of our Lord’s greatest miracles because Jesus, a poor Man, was able to overturn their tables and throw them out of the temple without any apparent resistance, without any opposition.

Hosanna to the Son of David
According to Saint Augustine, “Hosanna” doesn’t appear to have a specific meaning. It is an interjection of joy, with intimations of affection. What a beautiful thought to dwell on in meditation! Jesus is the source of our joy, and affection relates to an intimate union with Him. We hope and long for this intimacy through constant prayer, which Lent calls us to do. “Hosanna” is of Hebrew origin and thus Saint Jerome believed that it came from Psalm 117:25, “Lord, save me,” since what follows in that Psalm is identical to what follows after the “Hosanna” in Saint Mark’s Gospel: “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord” (Mark 11:9). Let our souls, then, shout for joy with many Hosannas, as our souls are the dwelling-place of the Most Blessed Trinity.

Jesus is Lord of the Old and New Testaments
Jesus said in today’s Gospel: “Have you never read: ‘Out of the mouths of infants and of sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?’” (Matthew 21:16). This is a reference to a verse in Psalm 8. The Book of Psalms, an Old Testament book, is clearly a very important book in the Church’s daily life. Verses are taken from it for use at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and it is used most prominently in the Divine Office. Saint John Chrysostom teaches us that with our Redeemer’s frequent use of the Old Testament in His teachings, we ought to read the Old Testament with an eye to Christ.