The Dominican Saint Raymond of Penyafort had a profound influence on the life of the Church in that he helped to codify what we know today as the Code of Canon Law. He was the third Master of the Order and refused a bishopric in order to dedicate himself to parish work and help ordinary people with their spiritual lives. Saint Raymond died in 1275 and was canonised in 1601 by Pope Clement VIII. Saint Raymond is the heavenly patron of civil and canon lawyers.
Within each of us is what Saint Augustine calls the restless heart. And we respond to that restless heart in various ways, but until our hearts are at rest in God a certain emptiness may trouble us. We hear in today’s gospel how Our Lord returned to Nazareth after preaching and teaching throughout the region. In the synagogue he is invited to read from the book of the Prophet Isaiah. He stands before the assembly, unrolls the scroll and begins to read a passage describing his own ministry among them. When he finishes, he assures the people of the fulfilment of the passage in their hearing.
That passage from Isaiah was intended to still the restless hearts of those who heard it, because to live our lives according to God’s will fulfils the deepest of longings within us. It’s a passage that is as alive for us today as it was for the people who heard it 2000 years ago.
Just as Our Lord proclaimed the word at the synagogue in Nazareth and then announced its fulfilment in his own person, so the word we hear every day at Mass is fulfilled when the bread and wine are transformed into Our Lord’s Body and Blood.
If the Scriptures really can be fulfilled at every Mass, that means we can participate with a very high level of expectation. No matter who we are God wants to fulfil in our lives the very promises that were just proclaimed in his word. So much can happen in those few minutes when we receive him in Holy Communion, all because Jesus wants to bring us closer to his heart every time we come to him.
And this is why the Church has always been at pains to tell us that we should never let routine creep into our participation at Mass, or let our minds wander, or worry about what the day may bring. Rather we must focus on who we are about to receive, and ask Him to open our hearts and minds to His love and His promises. In this way the Scriptures can be fulfilled in our midst today and every day.