Meditations on today’s readings
by Fr Alban FSDM
For some of the priests of our Fraternity today is the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, but preparing this meditation I find that in the Ordinary Form of the Mass it is the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. What is the link? Is there a link? It appears that there is.
When we heard read the second reading at Mass today we heard the words spoken of our blessed Lord, “You are my son: this day I have begotten you;” and “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”. Two phrases from the Psalms which we believe point forward to the Christ. The first phrase from Psalm 2 verse 7 states that our blessed Lord is the son of God. Psalm 109 from which the second phrase is taken is a psalm pointing forward for the assurance of Victory for God’s Priest-King. Here is the link, Jesus, our blessed Lord, is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
But who is Melchizedek? Why is he important? He is the first person in the Bible to be explicitly identified as a priest (Genesis 14.18), indeed throughout all of Genesis he is the only person to be identified as a priest of ‘God the Most High’ the God that Abraham knows as ‘the Lord’. Secondly, he is identified as the king of Salem (Gen. 14.18). Salem is Jerusalem the holy city (see Ps. 75.2). Thirdly, Melchizedek ministers to Abraham as a priest not just by blessing him but by bringing forth bread and wine. We remember this giving of bread and wine in the Mass during the Roman Canon, “be pleased to look upon these offerings… and to accept them, as once you were pleased to accept… the offering of your high priest Melchizedek.”
Melchizedek was a priest in the patriarchal order that existed long before the ordination of Aaron and his sons took place at Mount Sinai (Lev. 8.1-36). This is the original form of priesthood in an age of natural religion. Priestly authority was rooted in the family and exercised by the father whose sons inherited it particularly the first-born.
Melchizedek is identified with the patriarch Shem by many ancient sources. Noted theologians including Alcuin and Peter Lombard found insight in the this identification. There is a parallel between Melchizedek, first-born of Noah, and Jesus, the Father’s “first-born” (Heb. 1.6).
All of this points forward to our blessed Lord being both Priest and King. For much of the Old Testament period these two offices were in different families: Aaron and his descendents from the tribe of Levi were the priests and David and his descendants from the tribe of Judah were the kings. However if our Lord is both ‘my beloved Son’ and ‘a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’ then He wear the crowns of both ruling and religious authority. He truly is our Priest and our King.
Jesus, our blessed Lord, is Priest and King of all. The first reading at Mass makes this clear. In the great return from Exile none was excluded, from the north and from all over the earth they are to come, the blind, the lame, and those with child will be gathered together. It is a picture of universal participation. Our blessed Lord seeks to exclude no-one from his Kingdom. In the Gospel, He includes even Bartimaeus, the blind man by the wayside, that the many told to be quiet. Bartimaeus knew that Jesus was the Son of David – that he was the King. And he called out to him, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me”. Our blessed Lord called Bartimaeus and asked what he wanted. He said that he wanted to see. The Priest-King told him “Go your way: your faith has saved you.” and his sight was restored.
When we have faith like Bartimaeus, when we recognise our blessed Lord both as our High Priest and as our King, we will find that He will do great things for us. We will be able to truly say the response from the Psalm this morning, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”
Today the Church reminds us of the love of God through the ministry of the holy angels, particularly through the healing of St Raphael, Archangel. St Raphael is one of the seven Spirits that stand before the throne of God. He was the heavenly messenger sent to guide young Tobias on his journey and to heal the blindess of his father.
We invoke him especially for the healing of mental as wel as bodily ailments.
Deus, qui beatum Raphaelem Archangelum Tobiae famulo tuo comitem dedisti in via: concede nobis famulis tuis; ut eiusdem semper protegamur custodia et muniamur auxilio. Per Dominum. Amen.
Our thoughts are with the pilgrims in Lourdes who were evacuated as a result of flash floods that hit the town over the weekend. The Grotto where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 was under three feet of water but is expected to reopen on Tuesday.
We share the words of Pope Benedict XVI from Sunday:
Let us turn to the Virgin Mary with a thought for Lourdes, the victim of flash floods which inundated the grotto where the Madonna had appeared.
Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith urges Catholics to throw out jargon and communicate the truth simply and directly
Meditations on today’s Readings
by Fr Charles FSDM
The readings in today’s Mass, in the Ordinary Form for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time cut to the very heart of what the Fraternity is all about.
In his letter to the Hebrews, St Paul tells us that we have a great high priest, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is not unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, and He has been tempted as we are. St Paul urges us to draw near to the throne of grace so that we can receive God’s infinite mercy and find grace to help in time of need and to approach with confidence.
But why should be we confident? It is simple. Jesus was tested as we are tested; He knows and understands what we go through in our lives, good and not so good. He is always with us, pouring out the infinite mercy of His grace even when we think that He has no more to give. But that is when we need His grace the most, and when He gives us His grace the most.
St Paul tells us that God sits on a Throne of Grace. Not a throne of condemnation. God is not an angry old man throwing around bolts of lightning and flaming swords; He offers love and mercy, not harsh punishments and impossible demands. He is a loving God, He knows all our weaknesses and strengths; and is moved by them. He made us in His own image and likeness; if He did not love us He would not have sent His only Son to die on the Cross for our salvation. Every day, Holy Priests all over the world offer the Sacrifice of Calvary in the Mass, remembering God’s infinite love, grace and mercy.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and other forms of Eucharistic Liturgical Worship are at the heart of the spirituality and apostolate of the Fraternity. Our members live with the conviction that the entire effectiveness of our apostolate flows from the Sacrifice of Our blessed Lord.
Jesus tells us here that no one person is greater than another. Now in the first part of today’s Gospel, James and John asked Jesus to grant them their places in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus then reminds them that they don’t know what they are asking of Him: can they drink of the chalice that He drinks of? He knows quite well what is to happen to him during the next few days. The chalice of which He speaks will be the agonies He endures during the last hours of His earthly life – during the Agony in the Garden, He implores His Father : “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will but what thou wilt”. Do James and John know what they are asking? Very unlikely, but they have the faith to be able to say that they are able, and Jesus tells them that they will drink of the same chalice. By doing this have they, unwittingly, signed their own death warrants? Very likely they had, but it shows that they understood what Jesus had previously told them about his betrayal, mocking, scourging and crucifixion. They understood that a place in Heaven cannot be granted, other than to those for whom it has been prepared. And for whom? Jesus does not say, but I think we can work that out for ourselves.
Now we cut to the chase. On hearing about this conversation, the other Ten Disciples get rather annoyed with James and John. But Jesus quite swiftly rebukes them: “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be servant of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Our Fraternity is faithful to this instruction from Our Blessed Lord. The Fraternity is built on the principle of Priestly Brotherhood; our Ordinary will serve his Brother Priests, providing spiritual inspiration, encouragement and example as primus inter pares – first among equals; not “lording it” over anyone, but as our servant.