Run Time: approximately 11 minutes. Gospel: Mt 18:15-20.
…we’re made for others. We’re made for the sake of others and the deepest and most important callings in life are about how we recognize – how we acknowledge – that truth of who we are before God and how we live it out. Whether in marriage, or priesthood, or religious vocation, our lives are meant to be built around that fact that I was born to be given and to receive the gift and the blessing of others and the whole of the world and society is built on this.
I apologize for the audio problems which are ongoing from last week, but it is still possible to understand the Deacon as he explains what the cause for the spiritual aliments that beset us is and what their surest remedy is-
“We were made and designed for life. We Christians understand that [this desire] is for eternal life. Yet in the business of life we sometimes only live a shadow of a life.”
I don’t know that we think about that so often: That all of the Sacraments, one way or another, draw from the font of grace that is opened at the cross. Baptism that gives new life, born in the waters that flowed forth from His wounded side with His Precious blood. To the sacrament of Confession, where the sins are forgiven and washed away by the power of His cross. Most especially to this Holy Eucharist. Which we ought to remember is that same offering, made to God the Father, in the name of our Lord. It is the same offering of His cross, made present here and now that happened once for all, upon that hill of Calvary. That’s why we’ve begun again to turn together towards the Lord, to show more clearly and more fully, this offering that is made by priestly hands in the name of Christ the high priest. The offering of His cross for the forgiveness of your sins and mine – and the offering of His Body and Blood, pierced for love of us. That is our boast. Not just our acceptance. Not just, ‘well I guess that’s part of the deal.’ It is the boast, that each marriage, each career, each life lived in Christ is in imitation of His cross, and it is in the cross that that life takes meaning and has hope. It is our boast in the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ. That death and sin have been conquered. That my own ego and will have been conquered. It’s selfish “me” has been crucified, and Christ now lives in me. This is our boast. That the powers of this world have no dominion anymore. And that the power of Christ and the life given through Him is now my inheritance.
There is certainly an otherness to heaven – there is something of the heavenly existence and that full communion of God that we still await. But we ought not think of it as a place wholly removed, or as something wholly distant and unreachable. This is the meaning of His coming in the flesh that heaven has condescended to come down to earth, that earth might be lifted up to heaven.
You see Jesus came not just to teach us all to behave well – hopefully we do learn that. Not just to make us nice to one another, but to make us a new creation. That the very life of God should dwell in you and me and we should show it. So, yes, there is a way to live carrying this gift of God, this gift of Divine Life within us, but it begins with the gift. It begins in baptism.
How quickly the enemy creeps in and does his work of division. If another shows up to do what I thought was my thing, to do my part, surely there is another part to take up. There is plenty of work to go around. There is plenty of opportunity to be witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and announce His saving work. How many? … How many are skittish about the Church because of what they see in Catholics, or in Christians? How much we struggle to get along with each other? Although there is a great rebuttal … Someone asked [G. K, Chesterton] once, “[If] Christianity is supposed to help you grow in charity, how come you’re such a miserable person?” And he said, “Well imagine what I would be if I weren’t a Christian.”
All this week we’ve heard from the Gospel of John, “Father, if it be Your will, take this away from me.” You see Christ in the garden so agonized that he’s sweating blood and that this act of supreme love, of charity caused Him, in His humanity, even to suffer. And because we are conformed into that image of Christ through baptism, death, and resurrection, then that is the example we follow – the hard work of growing into that image. Of learning to love as God Himself has loved us. Be not mistaken, and it’s a good thing that we celebrate this year after year because we learn so many different lessons and we’re given an opportunity to reflect on the last year: how have I grown in this image and likeness of God? Or how … do I need to grow even more?
…it is through this paschal mystery, the passion, death and resurrection of Christ – which reversed this original disobedience of Adam by the ultimate obedience of Christ to His Father’s will. Throughout the passion, which we hear this morning, we see the Evil One’s attempts to thwart this plan of salvation. We see the betrayal of Judas, we see in spite of their protestations – the abandonment of all the apostles, even Peter. We see the false testimony, the condemnation by Pilot, the humiliation by the Praetorian Guard, the scourging and crowning with thorns, the torture of crucifixion – all of these sufferings were the attempts of the Evil One to get Jesus to say “No, I will not do it. I cannot do it.” Just as, so long ago, Adam and Eve were tempted to disobey God the Father.
‘Jesus’ whole life, His way of dealing with the poor, His actions, His integrity, His simple, daily acts of generosity, and finally, His complete self-giving is precious and reveals the mystery of His divine life.’
Jesus is our model. He transforms suffering and death into life, and we are called to be instruments of the same.
This weekend … I am sharing the annual statistics report – both for our spiritual wellbeing and for our financial wellbeing.
The Polish dinner mentioned is the 2nd Annual Polish Feast on August 24 beginning at 1pm. If you are interest in joining us, tickets are $35 each, $40 at the door. Please follow the link for further information.
As we look at all of these things, I can’t help but be grateful for what we have been able to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time – in two years and several weeks we have begun to turn things around. While things are looking better … the good news is that we are able for the first time in quite a while to be able to pay our bills, that things are beginning to look up for us, that we have just cause to be proud of our work, that we have just cause to be grateful for our work, and we have reason to rejoice that God has been so generous to us…