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Sermon for Sexagesima Sunday – February 24, 2019 by Father Paul Alvarez Norton

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Father began the sermon by reciting a Hail Mary.

DOMINICA IN SEXAGESIMA
St. Alphonsus Liguori used to say: “On what side does a tree fall when it is cut down? It falls on the side to which it inclines. On what side, brethren, will you fall when death shall cut down the tree of your life? You will fall on the side to which you are inclined.”

Last Sunday the theme was the personal penance that we must impose on ourselves to obtain graces from God. Today the theme is the fruits we must obtain from the sufferings and troubles that the world gives us. It is necessary to be constantly well-disposed on our way to the heavenly homeland. We see this theme reflected today in both the Lesson and the Gospel.

First, in the Lesson of St. Paul:
In most cases it is not appropriate to praise oneself, but today we hear in the lesson that St Paul had to do it, to demonstrate his condition as a true Apostle. Basically, what was at stake was the Gospel he preached. In addition, the Apostle wanted to maintain the unity of the Church of Corinth and demonstrate the sincerity and love that he professed to it. This defense does not prevent him from recognizing his own weakness, but it is precisely this weakness that makes the power of God stand out, and this is the fruit of which I spoke at the beginning: The manifestation of God in the sufferings that we experience.

This personal praise also gives St. Paul the opportunity to highlight the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant and to show the perfection of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant was based on the “letter that kills”, while in the New Covenant it resides in the Spirit who “gives life”. The Old Covenant was provisional, and Christ removed the “veil” that prevented understanding its true meaning. In summary: St. Paul was a man of iron; a virtuous man who found in the Faith the strength to fulfill his mission.

A few days ago I spoke with a person about our Faith and at a certain moment he said to me: “Well, I think we should take everything easy. You are too traditionalist”. To which I replied: “Since when is it wrong to be a traditionalist? Since when is it wrong to love God?”

And that is the truth that underlies every personal and social reality: The more we love God, the more willing we are to endure suffering for Him, and with more zeal we are ready to defend Him in front of men. That is why Christ said: “Every one, therefore, that shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.

St. Paul traveled 621 miles on his first trip through Asia; in the second 1200 miles, and in the third, 1056 miles. Not a few for someone who walked them many times on foot. And we have not counted his other trips, his trip to Rome, his return to Jerusalem for the council, etc., etc. ad nauseam.

Suffering for Christ is a normal part of Christianity. This should be known by anyone who becomes a Catholic. In fact, the norm is that the greater the fidelity and service, the more suffering and opposition. Whenever we are going to begin some great work for God, in proportion to its importance, we must expect the opposition of Satan. And not only that, we must accept and learn every day to die to ourselves.

In the Parable:
This is the second Parable that Jesus Christ personally interpreted for the Apostles; although the other ― the one of the Wheat and the Cockle ― appears after this one in the Gospel of St. Mathew.

This parable, along with that of the Wheat and the Cockle, have the most general theme and constitute a kind of frame for all the others. The one of the Wheat and the Cockle deals with the economy of salvation in general, and this one we hear today talks about the economy of salvation of each particular soul, about how the Personality of each man responds to the Word of God, that is, to the religious truths. Jesus Christ divided these responses into three classes in which the Seed does not bear fruit and three classes in which it does bear fruit.
In those souls who do bear fruit, it simply says that it bears 30, 60 or 100 percent of each one.

Those in whom the seed doesn’t bear fruit are mentioned in more detail. They are: the seeds that fall on the road, the ones that fall among the stones, and the ones that fall among weeds.

A portion of the seeds fell on the road and the birds of the air made them disappear. “The birds of the air” are the devils.
Another portion of the seeds fell among the stones, where it burst quickly because of the heat. Christ says that these are the ones who receive the Word, even with enthusiasm, but it does not take root in them because these people remain in the plane of sentimentality; they appear to have a lot of devotion or fanaticism at the beginning but when the suffering or routine comes they abandon everything because certainly it’s not possible to live for long while pretending. Here belong the hypocrites who really don’t want to repudiate their many sins; counting among them also pride, which is a capital sin.

There are also others in this group of the seeds that fell on the stones that are the fainthearted, who practice a part of religion. They DO NOT bear fruit, says Christ. But if you practice a little, will not you also bear fruit a little? No, nothing. Those who are not in God’s grace do not produce anything for eternal life. Although they do some good works, it doesn’t profit to their eternal salvation; it may be useful for them in order to obtain the help of God to change their life, but nothing more than that. Christ said He would vomit out of His mouth the lukewarm.

In addition to these two groups, there are people who directly hate Religion. They can be compared to the wheat that fell among weeds, because at the end they feed them. The apostates generally abhor Religion and persecute it if they can. They have had the seed but it became fertilizer for the weeds.

In conclusion, in spite of the daily sufferings and temptations, we have THE OBLIGATION to produce fruit. That is the life of the Christian. And there is no better way to do it than using those sufferings to die to ourselves each day, doing God’s will and detaching ourselves from all superficiality and selfishness.
May God help us to see in the daily sufferings an opportunity to grow in holiness and die to our vain desires, because:

If you die before you die, then you won’t die when you die.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
 
Father began the sermon by reciting a Hail Mary.
DOMINICA IN SEXAGESIMA
St. Alphonsus Liguori used to say: “On what side does a tree fall when it is cut down? It falls on the side to which it inclines. On what side, brethren, will you fall when death shall cut down the tree of your life? You will fall on the side to which you are inclined.”
Last Sunday the theme was the personal penance that we must impose on ourselves to obtain graces from God. Today the theme is the fruits we must obtain from the sufferings and troubles that the world gives us. It is necessary to be constantly well-disposed on our way to the heavenly homeland. We see this theme reflected today in both the Lesson and the Gospel.
 
First, in the Lesson of St. Paul:
In most cases it is not appropriate to praise oneself, but today we hear in the lesson that St Paul had to do it, to demonstrate his condition as a true Apostle. Basically, what was at stake was the Gospel he preached. In addition, the Apostle wanted to maintain the unity of the Church of Corinth and demonstrate the sincerity and love that he professed to it. This defense does not prevent him from recognizing his own weakness, but it is precisely this weakness that makes the power of God stand out, and this is the fruit of which I spoke at the beginning: The manifestation of God in the sufferings that we experience.
This personal praise also gives St. Paul the opportunity to highlight the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant and to show the perfection of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant was based on the “letter that kills”, while in the New Covenant it resides in the Spirit who “gives life”. The Old Covenant was provisional, and Christ removed the “veil” that prevented understanding its true meaning. In summary: St. Paul was a man of iron; a virtuous man who found in the Faith the strength to fulfill his mission.
A few days ago I spoke with a person about our Faith and at a certain moment he said to me: “Well, I think we should take everything easy. You are too traditionalist”. To which I replied: “Since when is it wrong to be a traditionalist? Since when is it wrong to love God?”
And that is the truth that underlies every personal and social reality: The more we love God, the more willing we are to endure suffering for Him, and with more zeal we are ready to defend Him in front of men. That is why Christ said: “Every one, therefore, that shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.
St. Paul traveled 621 miles on his first trip through Asia; in the second 1200 miles, and in the third, 1056 miles. Not a few for someone who walked them many times on foot. And we have not counted his other trips, his trip to Rome, his return to Jerusalem for the council, etc., etc. ad nauseam.
Suffering for Christ is a normal part of Christianity. This should be known by anyone who becomes a Catholic. In fact, the norm is that the greater the fidelity and service, the more suffering and opposition. Whenever we are going to begin some great work for God, in proportion to its importance, we must expect the opposition of Satan. And not only that, we must accept and learn every day to die to ourselves.
 
In the Parable:
This is the second Parable that Jesus Christ personally interpreted for the Apostles; although the other ― the one of the Wheat and the Cockle ― appears after this one in the Gospel of St. Mathew.
This parable, along with that of the Wheat and the Cockle, have the most general theme and constitute a kind of frame for all the others. The one of the Wheat and the Cockle deals with the economy of salvation in general, and this one we hear today talks about the economy of salvation of each particular soul, about how the Personality of each man responds to the Word of God, that is, to the religious truths. Jesus Christ divided these responses into three classes in which the Seed does not bear fruit and three classes in which it does bear fruit.
In those souls who do bear fruit, it simply says that it bears 30, 60 or 100 percent of each one.
Those in whom the seed doesn’t bear fruit are mentioned in more detail. They are: the seeds that fall on the road, the ones that fall among the stones, and the ones that fall among weeds.
A portion of the seeds fell on the road and the birds of the air made them disappear. “The birds of the air” are the devils.
Another portion of the seeds fell among the stones, where it burst quickly because of the heat. Christ says that these are the ones who receive the Word, even with enthusiasm, but it does not take root in them because these people remain in the plane of sentimentality; they appear to have a lot of devotion or fanaticism at the beginning but when the suffering or routine comes they abandon everything because certainly it’s not possible to live for long while pretending. Here belong the hypocrites who really don’t want to repudiate their many sins; counting among them also pride, which is a capital sin.
There are also others in this group of the seeds that fell on the stones that are the fainthearted, who practice a part of religion. They DO NOT bear fruit, says Christ. But if you practice a little, will not you also bear fruit a little? No, nothing. Those who are not in God’s grace do not produce anything for eternal life. Although they do some good works, it doesn’t profit to their eternal salvation; it may be useful for them in order to obtain the help of God to change their life, but nothing more than that. Christ said He would vomit out of His mouth the lukewarm.
In addition to these two groups, there are people who directly hate Religion. They can be compared to the wheat that fell among weeds, because at the end they feed them. The apostates generally abhor Religion and persecute it if they can. They have had the seed but it became fertilizer for the weeds.
 
In conclusion, in spite of the daily sufferings and temptations, we have THE OBLIGATION to produce fruit. That is the life of the Christian. And there is no better way to do it than using those sufferings to die to ourselves each day, doing God’s will and detaching ourselves from all superficiality and selfishness.
May God help us to see in the daily sufferings an opportunity to grow in holiness and die to our vain desires, because:
 
If you die before you die, then you won’t die when you die.
 
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Posted on March 7, 2019 at 5:12 pm

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