Psalter: Week 3
Ps 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21
Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
1st Reading: Song 2:8–14 (or Zep 3:14–18a)
The voice of my lover! Behold he comes,
springing across the mountains,
jumping over the hills,
like a gazelle or a young stag.
Now he stands behind our wall,
looking through the windows,
peering through the lattice.
My lover speaks to me,
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one!
Come, the winter is gone,
the rains are over.
Flowers have appeared on earth;
the season of singing has come;
the cooing of doves is heard.
The fig tree forms its early fruit,
the vines in blossom are fragrant.
Arise, my beautiful one,
come with me, my love, come.
O my dove in the rocky cleft,
in the secret places of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice.
Your face—how lovely!
Your voice—how sweet!”
Gospel: Lk 1:39–45
Mary then set out for a town in the Hills of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with holy spirit, and giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”
Once, after having preached on God’s love and forgiveness at a Mass, I received a phone call from a parishioner who was deeply troubled by my homily. “Father,” he said, “you preach too much on God’s love and forgiveness. You must preach more on God’s judgment than on all this compassion stuff. It is clear in the Bible that God will punish evil people. And there are too many of them in the world.” My forty-five-minute effort to convince him that God’s judgment is tempered by His mercy was a failure.
It saddens me to find many well-meaning Catholics so preoccupied with fulfilling the many rules of the Church and ritual compulsions that the joy of Christian living has gone out of them. These men and women are more Levitical than Gospel, for they are more concerned about the laws and punishments in Leviticus than the liberating forgiveness of the Gospel. Perhaps they should take note of the joy that permeates the encounter between Elizabeth and Mary and read the Song of Songs more often than the book of Leviticus.
It is said that when he was requested to give a teaching while on his deathbed, St. Thomas Aquinas, who had known and written about God more than any other mortal, chose to speak on the Song of Songs. Can anyone ever preach too much about God’s love?
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