The Pentecost Friday – it’s an Ember Day – Roman Station is Dodici Apostoli, Twelve Apostles, because that’s where Friday Ember Day Stations are. Believe me. It was pulled to Dodici Apostoli from its original place Ss. Giovanni e Paolo on the Coelian Hill.
The texts of the Mass today are calming, as befits summery pursuits. Crops are planted. Early harvest of first fruits and grains are in. Other plantings and fruits are maturing. The days are long, warm, languid. There is always something to be done, but there is long daylight for leisure.
Leisure and praise of God. As the Introit says and the other joyful antiphons echo today:
“Let my mouth be filled with Your praise, alleluia: that I may sing, alleluia. My lips shall shout for joy as I sing Your praises, alleluia, alleluia.”
The reading from Joel is about the harvest, and grain and wine and the gifts of God. Here it is, but including v. 25 which had been excluded.
“Be glad, O sons of Zion,
and rejoice in the Lord, your God;
for he has given the early rain for your vindication,
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the latter rain, as before.
24 “The threshing floors shall be full of grain,
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 I will restore to you the years
which the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.
26 “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again
be put to shame.
Alleluia! As the Holy Spirit moved on the waters and brought forth good things from the earth at the beginning of Creation, so too does He move and work now and in us.
If it is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that our Alleluias are inspired, formed, charged and launched on high, it is also under the influence of the Spirit that our good works – fruits – are performed.
The Gospel today is about the man whose friends lower him through the roof to get him to Jesus, who heals him. It’s a great moment, one of my favorites, in the Gospels. Imagine the sheer chutzpah of the man’s friends, ready to go up on top of the house where Jesus was and tear a hole in the roof to let their friend down on ropes on his stretcher.
Out of the chaos that must have ensued… do you think perhaps there maybe some shouting and protests and maybe even tussles? … order emerged, physical and spiritual. The result was praise.
Set the image of the friends in the Gospel against the image in the Collect, which returns to the them of “the enemy”.
Grant to Your Church, we beseech You, almighty God, that, united by the Holy Spirit, she may in no way be harmed by any assault of the enemy.
In the midst of the joyful antiphons there is this stark reminder that, because I am in Brooklyn as I write, “It ain’t over, ’till it’s over.” Okay, okay, Yogi was a Yankee rather than a Dodger (aka Traitorous Dogs). And, yes, this was a check to see if you were still reading.
The Postcommunion seems to echo what happened in the Gospel, thus tying our minds in the moment of Communion to the healing, strengthening effects of the Eucharist:
“We who have received the gift of Your Blessed Sacrament, O Lord, humbly pray that what You have taught us to do in commemoration of You, may profit and help us in our weakness.”
As I write, I think of all your priests being the friends who tear a hole in the roof to get you to the Lord. The friends lowered the man. The priests bring the Lord to you. The fabric of the roof, Heaven, is torn open. The division of heaven from earth is ripped asunder and Christ is called down, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity for your healing and joy.
We must turn this sock inside out. you lay people pull that roof apart and get us priests to the Lord. You do the heavy… lowering. We would be lost without you, frozen, unable to move.
You are our stretcher bearers.
This brings up the situation of many priests today, who have been canceled in serious ways, or mistreated and subjected to enduring moral injury.
St. Ambrose of Milan (+397) has this in his Commentary on Luke:
What is this bed/pallet which [the paralytic] is commanded to take up, as he is told to rise? It is the same bed which was washed [with tears] by David every night, the bed of pain on which our soul lay sick with cruel torment of conscience. But if anyone has acted according to Christ’s teaching, it is already not a bed of pain but of repose. Indeed, though the compassion of the Lord, who turns for us the sleep of death into the grace of delight, that which was death begins to be repose. Not only is he ordered to take up his bed, but also to go home to his house, that is, to return to Paradise. That is our true home which first fostered man, lost not lawfully, but by deceit. Therefore, rightfully is the home restored, since he who would abolish the obligation of deceit and reform the law has come. (Exp Luca 5.14)
The healing of the paralytic results in the paralytic being able to “go home”.
In a similar way, Christ in His Holy Church causes us to rise when we are paralyzed in our sins.
Not just in our sins, but also the memory of those sins.
Not just the memory of sins, but the memory of injury by others.
I want consciously here to connect for you the healing of the paralytic, with the help of his friends and the creative breaking of barriers, to the process and the results of purification of memory.
A first step is, of course, thorough examination of conscience. Also,…
GO TO CONFESSION!
One of the effects of the Sacrament of Penance is strengthening again sin.
For most of us, most of the time, the confessional is palette from which the Lord causes us to arise, freed from sorrow, bondage, and new life.