28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B (2021): Wis 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Homily Notes for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B (2021): Wis 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30

·  The month of October has long been for Catholics a month dedicated to Mary and the praying of the Holy Rosary. Each of us likely has some connection to the Rosary: an heirloom we keep from our grandparents or our First Communion, a devotional item that hangs from rear view window of our car, something we keep on our person to remind us of Mary’s presence, or the memory a shrine or church we visited, in addition to its primary purpose of being the devotional item that helps us to pray the mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

·  I myself have two rosaries in particular that mean a lot to me, one that contains in the cross portion a small reliquary that has a piece of the roman catacombs inside and another that was placed on the grave of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

·  But why is it that over the centuries we have been encouraged to pray the rosary? May I offer a few insights into this question based on the history of this devotion and from the readings this weekend.

·  In the early church, the monastic communities of monks and nuns would spend the majority of their day in prayer and manual labour. For prayer, they would seek to pray all 150 Psalms, either daily or broken up over a weekly and monthly schedule. With literacy being less than it is in our times, this daily, weekly or monthly singing of the Psalms, known as the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours, was not possible for the vast majority of Christians, yet there was a desire to have a meaningful way to participate in this solemn prayer of the Church.

·  Over time, members of the lay faithful would seek to pray 150 Our Fathers as a way to compliment the praying of the 150 Psalms. Eventually, the Hail Mary prayer was also incorporated in this devotion, and strings of beads, rocks, seeds and stones were made to help keep track of the prayers, giving rise to the devotional item we call the rosary.

·  The name rosary comes from the Latin rosarium, which speaks of a bouquet of roses, with the idea being that every prayer offered during the rosary was a like a rose being offered to Mary.

·  During the high medieval period, the rosary began to be structured into series of mysteries that would ponder the Joyful mysteries of Jesus’ birth and childhood, the Sorrowful Mysteries of his passion and death and the Glorious Mysteries of his Resurrection, Ascension, and the descent of the Holy Spirit, along with the two mysteries of Mary’s Assumption and coronation as the culmination of her life as a disciple and Mary of the Saviour. St John Paul II added the Luminous mysteries in the early 2000’s as a way to ponder the mysteries of Jesus’ public ministry, thus giving us a way to ponder in 20 mysteries the entirety of the life and mission of Jesus Christ.

·  While today’s readings might not at first glance say much about the Holy Rosary, each of them offers an insight into some of the effects praying the rosary can have in our lives.

·  To pray the rosary is to avail oneself to Wisdom, for the one who prays is given understanding and to call upon God is to be filled with a spirit of wisdom. The rosary is a means to open one’s self to the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit, like Mary was when she said yes to be the Mother of God and experienced the very wisdom of God begin to dwell in her womb. The rosary is a place where we can quietly ponder the mysteries of Christ and ask these ponderings make us truly wise in knowing how best to follow Christ and discern truth from the multitude of falsehoods that bombard us on a daily basis.

·  To pray the Rosary is also to experience the Word of God as living and active, shaper than any two-edged sword as it judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. When we pray the rosary, we are given the chance to consider the scriptures as each mystery of the rosary transports us to some point in the New Testament and allows us to relive that moment as we momentarily consider what took place when Jesus walked the earth. It is possible that as we ponder these mysteries the Lord will speak deeply in our souls, maybe even a way that wounds the heart as we realize we are called to live differently than we have and seek them to more closely resemble that our Lord.

·  Finally, to pray the rosary is to continually to ask our Lord what must we do to inherit eternal life! This is the question of questions and the one that in the end really matters. Each mystery of the rosary tells us something about how to inherit eternal life, such as considering how Mary lives in heaven, not because of the riches she achieved in this life, but the spiritual treasures she acquired in being faithful to her son and loving God and her neighbours, making her able to enter into his kingdom since her heart was not weighed down by earthly things but set free by the things of heaven.

·  Dear friends, I encourage you to pray the rosary, every day if possible. It could be done in the early mornings hours and when we are tired and need the solace of prayer to help us sleep. It can be prayed in the church, as we drive, as we walk our pets, or we can break up the decades of the rosary throughout the day if we find it hard to pray it all in one sitting.

·  If you pray the rosary every day, please continue and prey it well. If not, please give it a try, and I hope very much it will change your life for the better!