HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
Bishop Rene Henry Gracida
who have commanded us
to listen to your beloved Son,
be pleased, we pray,
to nourish us inwardly by your word,
that with spiritual light made pure,
we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
That is the opening prayer, The Collect, for today’s Mass.
I call your attention to the three principle elements of that prayer.
First, we ask God to nourish us by his word.
Second, we ask him to nourish us by his word so that we may see reality
with a spiritual light made pure.
Thirdly, that with that light we may rejoice
to behold God’s glory.
How are we nourished by the word that God speaks to us. We are nourished by the words that the Word of God because it is Jesus Christ and his apostle who spoke to us, and the words of Jesus Christ and his apostles have power that the words of others do not have
The Church makes sure that we encounter in every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the words of the Word made flesh and the writings of the apostles contained in the bible.
The Second Vatican Council decreed that the number of readings from sacred scripture at Mass should be triples in number and so the Lectionary of the Church was expanded so that number of readings from the bible were indeed tripled from what we had before the Council. That is what is signified by the designation of the three cycles of readings. We are presently in Cycle A and next year we will be in Cycle B and then the following year we will be in Cycle C of scripture readings at Mass.
What a wonderful enrichment this expansion has been for the faithful. But if our only contact with the words of the Word of God and his apostles are in hearing the readings proclaimed at Mass, we are on a ‘Slim Fast’ diet.
You should own your own personal copy of the bible and add ‘protein’ to your ‘Slim Fast’ diet by reading the bible.
An excellent Catholic edition of the bible is the Ignatius Bible available from Ignatius Press in over ten different editions either directly from Ignatius press or through
We listen to the sacred scripture readings at Mass and we read the sacred scriptures at home so that we may “see reality
with a spiritual light made pure.”
Saint John the Evangelist tells us how this is accomplished:
“We announce to you the eternal life which dwelt with the Father and was made visible to us. What we have seen and heard we announce to you, so that you may have
fellowship with us and our common fellowship be with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:2-3)
How you read sacred scripture will determine how much we receive the spiritual light which will make reality more clear to us.
Saint Benedict famously prescribed a manner of reading of sacred scripture that is called “LECTIO DIVINA.”
Here is William of Saint Thierry’s description of Lectio Divina”
§ 120. [A]t fixed hours time should be given to certain definite reading. For haphazard reading, constantly varied and as if lighted on by chance does not edify but makes the mind unstable; taken into the memory lightly, it goes out from it even more lightly. But you should concentrate on certain authors and let your mind grow used to them.
§ 121. The Scriptures need to be read and understood in the same spirit in which they were written. You will never enter into Paul’s meaning until by constant application to reading him and by giving yourself to meditation you have imbibed his spirit. You will never understand David until by experience you have made the very sentiments of the psalms your own. And that applies to all Scripture. There is the same gulf between attentive study and mere reading as there is between friendship and acquaintance with a passing guest, between boon companionship and chance meeting.
§ 122. Some part of your daily reading should also each day be committed to memory, taken as it were into the stomach, to be more carefully digested and brought up again for frequent rumination; something in keeping with your vocation and helpful to concentration, something that will take hold of the mind and save it from distraction.
§ 123. The reading should also stimulate the feelings and give rise to prayer, which should interrupt your reading: an interruption which should not so much hamper the reading as restore to it a mind ever more purified for understanding.
§ 124. For reading serves the purpose of the intention with which it is done. If the reader truly seeks God in his reading, everything that he reads tends to promote that end, making the mind surrender in the course of the reading and bring all that is understood into Christ’s service.
From: William of Saint Thierry (d. 1148), The Golden Epistle: A Letter to the Brethren at Mont Dieu 1.120-124, trans. Theodore Berkeley, The Works of William of St. Thierry, Cistercian Fathers 12 (Spencer, Mass.: Cistercian Publications, 1971) 51-52. In the Migne Patrologia Latina, volume 184, this would be Book 1, paragraph 31.
That through our Lenten reading of sacred scripture we may be illuminated to see the reality of our salvation and rejoice in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.
This truth was beautifully expressed by the Second Vatican Council in its Decree
In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4).
Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (see Col. 1;15, 1 Tim. 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (see Ex. 33:11; John 15:14-15) and lives among them (see Bar. 3:38), so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself.
This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. By this revelation then, the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.
Almighty God, Eternal Father,
grant that through our Lenten
reading of sacred scripture in the manner of Lectio Divina
we be filled with the light of Christ your Son and thus be able to grasp the reality of his passion, death and resurrection as
the source of our ability to share in your divine life for all eternity.