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.”
The one consistent theme [of CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce] is: that thing which I will not give to God – no matter how big or how small – may become that thing that keeps me from Him. …
That one thing can become that one thing that is lacking because God does not want just that we should follow the rules. The rules are good, and particularly from the very natural and basic level of the Ten Commandments on, because they lead us to understand God and His creation.
… God is not after just a tally sheet: has she kept the rules, has he been basically good. He’s after us. You and me. This is the radical thing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That God wants to draw us into His own life, and have that life, which we receive in Baptism and experience in the grace of the sacraments, that life which is shared and spread in the works of mercy and generosity and kindness; that life of God that is meant to be poured out into the world. That’s what God wants for you and for me.
[St. Ignatius of Loyola’s] advice – which is very timely – is also good, good reminder. He said that every true Christian should pray as if everything depended on God, but work as if everything depended upon himself. Now this may sound like a contradiction, and in fact we have to make one slight clarification, because we cannot imply, or infer in this that there is anything we can do that will merit salvation. We cannot buy our eternal happiness. But it is this coupling, rather, of dependence upon God and His Providence and using our intelligence – which is also a gift of God – that makes us human. To pray as if everything depended upon the Almighty One, but to work with the gifts that we have as if everything depended upon ourselves.
When we look then, dear friends, at the Good Shepherd, we see an image of Christ who is truly concerned for us. Not only in the past, not only here and now, but who desires our future wellbeing. The devotion and love which we show towards Christ in our modern way – through the Sacred Heart, through Divine Mercy, through the image of the crucifix – is indeed to be commended. Nevertheless, this approach to Christ does not represent His work in our daily lives in such a way as we see when we tap into the wisdom of those who have gone before us, who placed all their hope in Christ Who was raised from the dead for our salvation.
Fr. Pius Parsch (1884-1954) The Church’s Year of Grace (Liturgical Press, 1953)
How, then, can we let this power of the resurrection seep into the depths of our minds and hearts? And there is one simple thing that we can do that will make all the difference. And I hope if you remember nothing else from this homily (I hope you don’t [only] remember the story of Michelangelo – it is a beautiful sculpture) but this is the point: Keep the Lord’s Day holy. Every Sunday. Every Sunday we recall the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is why we are told by the Church that Mass is obligatory. To make sure that we don’t forget what goes on tonight. We need to be reminded; we need to make sure that we remember, where we are going – if you are not going to weekly Mass you have to ask yourself what do you really believe, what do you hold important? Because religion is not just about Christmas and Easter, it is about the day to day living out of our lives. Christmas and Easter are important, but so is every other day. What I’m saying is this: that we need to do our part as well in order to grow in faith. That, yes, coming to Mass is essential, but if we want to live our Sundays to the full, if we want to live our lives to the full and take on that rhythm of the resurrection, that kind of idea that we have been preparing for all through Lent, we’ve got to also use our creativity and imagination to make this day the first of days, the holiest of days, different from all the rest.
Nicodemus is a role model for our Lenten journey. When we come to Jesus’ table today, when we reach out to Him from our darkness, may we ponder on His gracious gift, and may we daily choose to accept this saving light with rejoicing, now and forever.
…God desires that we develop our own talents. That we try to improve our relationship with Him, with one another and build up society for good. Because our relationship with God is not just this way, but it is also this way. And that is part of the unique thing about Christianity, it’s not just ‘Jesus and me’ – it’s Jesus and me and the Church and building up the world. That’s why the command of Christ is so radical. Not only love God, but love neighbor – Neighbor as yourself. That is God’s will. Most of the time it’s perfectly clear if we just think about it.
And so, today we are given this opportunity then as we are almost, we are a third of the way through Lent – to contemplate this great truth: that … or one of the concepts of Lent is that Christ desires this relationship with us and it’s been made perfectly clear by the way, not only [how] he lived his life, but that He went to His passion for our sake. And that when we celebrate Easter, we celebrate not only His victory over death, but that great love that He has shown for us that is given to us as the promise for what is to come. What is to come? Promise of eternal happiness and joy and bliss with Him, in eternal communion with Him, in heaven.
This sermon was originally recorded August 11, 2014 and was lost until this week. Please take a moment to listen as it is a rather special short sermon.
With all of these more ancient saints, it’s almost as if we open up the family photo album – is it not – and draw from things recent and things ancient and find in every age the reminder that God pours out His blessings upon the world for us, for our salvation, that where He has gone, where the saints have gone, we hope to follow.
This mind boggling mystery in its utter simplicity, that God says something and it happens, reveals to us how much Jesus loves us. It is that prolongation of God’s presence in the world that demonstrates to us His care, concern and love for us. The fact that He loves us so much that He wants His own life to flow through our veins. To accompany us always and everywhere until we see Him unveiled, truly in His body in heaven. But for the time being He is present to us in this mystery, no less real, than what we will participate in, in eternity. And so it is then, this incomprehensible, apparently contradictory, mystery. That the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy that the Savoir would be called Emanuel … which means “God is with us”, has come to fulfillment. That though we have sinned, Christ still loves us so much that He will not abandon us. He lives amongst us even now. … No longer in sign and symbol, but in reality – God lives amongst us. He stays with us, He walks with us to share and redeem and give meaning to every detail of our lives. That is the example of love.
Father packed allot into this sermon, I hope you all can find the time to listen.
That abiding presence of Christ – in and through the Church. Although unseen, it is believed. Although not always felt, He is there. And not always recognized, He still stands and knocks at the door – the door of our hearts, to ask us to open up so that He may come in and dwell with us.