The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.
He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.
You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.
Mark 6:7-13 Jesus made a tour round the villages, teaching. Then he summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’ So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.
In view of the extraordinary nature of these revelations, to stop me from getting too proud I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and stop me from getting too proud! About this thing, I have pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me, but he has said, ‘My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.’ So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.
Death was not God’s doing, he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living. To be – for this he created all; the world’s created things have health in them, in them no fatal poison can be found, and Hades holds no power on earth; for virtue is undying.
Yet God did make man imperishable, he made him in the image of his own nature; it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world, as those who are his partners will discover.
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him. While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.
Prayer to Saint Joseph for a Happy Death
O Blessed Joseph, you gave your last breath in the loving embrace of Jesus and Mary. When the seal of death shall close my life, come with Jesus and Mary to aid me. Obtain for me this solace for that hour – to die with their holy arms around me. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I commend my soul, living and dying, into your sacred arms. Amen.
With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’
As usual, below are the scripture readings which I draw on in my homily. I have also included the full text of St Thomas Aquinas’ hymn ‘Pange Lingua’ which he wrote for this solemnity.
Moses went and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. In answer, all the people said with one voice, ‘We will observe all the commands that the Lord has decreed.’ Moses put all the commands of the Lord into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he directed certain young Israelites to offer holocausts and to immolate bullocks to the Lord as communion sacrifices. Half of the blood Moses took up and put into basins, the other half he cast on the altar. And taking the Book of the Covenant he read it to the listening people, and they said, ‘We will observe all that the Lord has decreed; we will obey.’ Then Moses took the blood and cast it towards the people. This’ he said ‘is the blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you, containing all these rules.’
Now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, which is better than the one made by men’s hands because it is not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer are sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement and they restore the holiness of their outward lives; how much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God.
He brings a new covenant, as the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant.
Hail our Saviour’s glorious Body, which his Virgin Mother bore; hail the Blood which, shed for sinners, did a broken world restore; hail the sacrament most holy flesh and Blood of Christ adore!
To the Virgin for our healing, his own Son the Father send; from the Father’s love proceeding sower, seed, and Word descends; wondrous life of Word incarnate with his greatest winder ends!
On that paschal evening see him with the chosen twelve recline, to the old law still obedient in its feats of love divine; love divine, the new law giving, gives himself as Bread and Wine!
By his word the Word almighty makes of bread his flesh indeed; wine becomes his very life-blood; faith God’s living Word must heed! Faith alone may safely guide us where the senses cannot lead! Come, adore this wondrous presence; bow to Christ, the source of grace!
Here is kept the ancient promise of God’s earthly dwelling-place! Sight is blind before God’s glory, faith alone may see his face! Glory be to God the Father, praise to his co-equal Son, adoration to the Spirit, bond of love, in Godhead one! Blest be God by all creation joyously while ages run!
The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’
Today the Church celebrates, only for the fourth time, the Memorial of Mary the Mother of the Church. In 2018, as he announced this addition to the liturgical calendar Pope Francis wrote that he wished to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in its pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety”.
The title of ‘Mother of the Church’ is very ancient (it goes back at least to the fourth century), but it was forgotten for many years. However, this beautiful title was revived around the time of the Second Vatican Council, as the bishops sought to give a clear teaching on what the Church is.
When we think of the Church sometimes we will think first of the Church as an institution with schools, universities, offices and administration. But first and foremost of course the Church is us Christians. So the Council wrote a document (Lumen Gentium) which reflected on how the Church is made up of lay people, of religious, of ordained ministers, all of whom are journeying together as they follow there vocation to be saints.
In the words of Saint Pope Paul XVI “the Church is not an institution, but a people… Mary is the Mother of us, the Church.”
At the foot of the cross, the Beloved Disciple (Saint John) represents all of us when Jesus entrusts him to his Holy Mother. From that moment, Mary was not just the Mother of God, but the Mother of all Christians. As such, we venerate her as the Mother of the Church.
Mary is truly our Mother, and she loves each one of us with a mothers heart.
She dwells now in the glory of heaven, and it is from heaven that she continues to accompany us with maternal love. She cares for us as a mother cares for her children, watching over our ever step and interceding for us. Today we celebrate the gift that is our Heavenly Mother.