Saint Justin, martyr(Opt. Mem. this year); The Blessed Virgin, Mary, Mother of the Church (Memorial, see ***below)
May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust. (R./)
Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in distress. (R./)
I will deliver him and glorify him;
with length of days I will gratify him
and will show him my salvation. (R./)
Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But those tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyrd to others. Have you not read this scrpture: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes'?"
When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.
The parable in today's gospel is a tragic one, about rejection, violence and murder. But like great theatrical tragedies, this can have cathartic effect.
A vineyard owner sent his servants to collect his share of the fruits of the vineyard; all of them were rejected out of hand. He then sent his son who was not only rejected but killed. At the end of the story, the stone rejected by the builders goes on to become the keystone, the most important stone that holds the roof together. The parable is a veiled reference to what had happened to the prophets in the past and what would soon happen to Jesus himself. His mission would lead to him being rejected and put to death, but God would raise him from the dead and make him the keystone of a wholly new situation for mankind.
Rejection is a painful human experience, experienced by many. Jesus invites us to join our times of sadness and rejection to his passion. He is the living sign that the rejected stone can become the keystone. God can work in a life-giving way in and through all any hardships we struggle with in life. What we might judge to be misfortunes can turn out to be moments of grace. He will support us to the end with all we need.
2 Peter was one of the last books of the New Testament to be composed. The author takes up a question that Simon Peter never had to face: will the hoped-for second coming of Jesus be delayed indefinitely?
After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70 the surviving Christians were scattered. When, some decades later, Jesus still had not returned as victorious Messiah, some of them felt lost in a quagmire of doubt. The apostle Peter had already been martyred in A.D. 65 or 66. The inspired author of this epistle contrived to set his writing as though it were written by Peter himself, and drew on traditions about the life of Jesus, now seven decades past, in order to link the past to the future, linking God's manifest presence then to God's hidden presence now.
The gospel anticipates this problem of how to cope with the interval. The owner of the vineyard seems to have vanished into thin air, so the tenant farmers are tempted to live recklessly, even killing the owner's son and seize his property. When Jesus first spoke this parable, he referred to the puzzling Psalm-verse that "The stone rejected by the builders became the keystone of the structure." This means that God will always be faithful and will turn his servant into the keystone of the new life. Christians later reinterpreted it to mean God's transfer of favour to the church as it spread into the gentile world after the fall of Jerusalem.
The Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" He said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate."
Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent tricked me, and I ate." The Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel."
The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
or: 1st Reading: Acts 1:12-14.
Our Lady with the apostles and other disciples in prayer, before Pentecost
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
The Lord loves his foundation upon the holy mountains
The gates of Zion more than any dwelling of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you, O city of God! (R./)
Of Zion they shall say:
One and all were born in her;
And he who has established her
is the Most High Lord. (R./)
They shall note, when the peoples are enrolled:
Yes, this man was born there.
And all shall sing, in their festive dance:
My home is within you. (R./)
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved,
he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son."
Then he said to the disciple,
"Behold, your mother."
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, "I thirst."
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
"It is finished."
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately Blood and water flowed out.
The title "Mother of the Church" (Mater Ecclesiae) was applied to the mother of Jesus by Pope Paul VI in November 1964 at the close of the Second Vatican Council. The title was first used in the 4th century by Saint Ambrose of Milan and more recently the title was favoured by Pope John Paul II and then incorporated into the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
It is closely linked to Mary’s being at the heart of that prayerful group of apostles and disciples in the upper room, awaiting the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). Specifically, her maternal role towards Christ’s faithful is founded on the words spoken by Jesus from the cross to the Beloved Disciple, who represents all future disciples: Behold your mother [John 19:27]. As John Paul II wrote: "In her new motherhood in the Spirit, Mary embraces each and every one in the Church, and embraces each and every one through the Church." In March 2018, Pope Francis inserted into the Roman Calendar the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to be celebrated each year on the Monday after Pentecost.
"The Church is feminine," said Pope Francis, "she is a mother." "When this trait is lacking, the Church is just a charitable organization or a football team. A too masculine Church, he observed, can become "a church of old bachelors, incapable of love or fruitfulness." Francis assigned the feast to the Monday immediately following Pentecost, "to encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety."
One could say that the relationship between Mary and the Church "is such that one cannot be fully understood without the other." (Fr. John Nepil). If they are totally separated, negative results follow. If Mary is too much elevated, she loses her humanity and is made to seem quasi-divine. But without her, the Church can seem an exclusively male-dominated structure. Along with the significant Gospel references to her, one can see how popular devotion to Mary in the early Church is expressed in the late-2nd-century "Pre-Gospel of James," was further developed in liturgical texts from 3rd century Syria and reached its zenith in the Council of Ephesus (431), where Mary was proclaimed "Theotokos" the Mother of God.
At Pentecost, Mary’s maternal presence was right there at the birth of the Church, so that one may rightly honour her as mother of the Church.