Feast of Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Leviticus 25:1, 8-17
Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. A lawyer at 17, Alphonsus overlooked important evidence and lost a case. He resigned, became a priest and founded the Redemptorist Order of priests. He wrote extensively on moral theology and is patron of moral theologians and confessors.
It is appropriate on this feast that the first reading today offers us insights into the Old Testament Law. In addition to the day of rest for human and beast provided by the weekly Sabbath in the Mosaic Law, the land itself was to have a year of rest every seven years with the Fiftieth Year being a year of Jubilee. The Book of Leviticus also required that land could never be sold or mortgaged beyond the next Jubilee year and that the property was to be returned to its original owner every 50th years and all crops were free for everyone. Thus the law of the land strongly emphasized the inalienable character of family holdings and God’s presence with the poor and defenseless.
Today’s gospel invites us into the story of John the Baptist’s fidelity to the law and how, in challenging Herod, who had unlawfully taken the wife of his brother, Philip, John was imprisoned and beheaded without even the pretense of a trial. We know the story!!!
What might these scriptures say to us today? The first question that comes to mind is: Do I celebrate a weekly Sabbath rest in mind as well as body? What about family weekly worship and rest? Do we plan this day together? Who in your family or neighborhood is celebrating a 50th jubilee sometime soon? Would it not be appropriate to ponder the deeper meaning of this celebration as a family of faith and share your reflections to all who celebrate?
Throughout all this, our Psalm prayer for today reminds us that we come before our loving God in prayer and say together as a community:
May God have pity on us and bless us. May God’s face shine upon us.
… The earth has yielded its fruits; God, our God has blessed us.
May God bless us and may all the ends of the earth fear God!
Sr. Marcella Fabing, CSJ, is on the staff of Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center, Citrus Heights, California.