Sermon for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost – September 2, 2018 by Father Paul Alvarez Norton
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. The religious problems become worse every day because the faithful are not theologians and the theologians are not faithful. On one hand we have people who do not want to learn more about their faith; to study it. On the other hand, we have bishops and cardinals whose actions cause nausea even to the devil. I won’t to go further into this topic because everyone knows what I am talking about. The important thing for us Catholics to do, is to try to learn more each day, especially about what we hear in the liturgy during Mass. Today the verses we hear are good examples of this. In one verse, one of the shortest verses of the sacred scriptures, we read that Jesus wept. This is the passage from the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus wept when He felt the sorrow of the people who were mourning the death of Lazarus. The gospel of today is about another resurrection, the son of the widow of Naim. Once again, we see that Christ feels compassion not primarily for the son who died, but for his mother. Christ understands what that is and He does not fear it, but He grieves seeing the pain of others. Moreover, as we shall see later, He always seeks to obtain a greater good: the life of the spirit. Now the orphan, the stranger, and the widow are the people for whom God takes special care. He presents Himself as their defender. That is because they were the most in need of all those living in Israel at that time. Seeing they had nothing, in most cases God was everything to them, and God will not abandon those who trust in Him. Christ also shows that same compassion of God because He is God, and here He demonstrates it in two ways; First, he uses the words, “I command you”. The great prophets of history always use the phrase “the Lord says” or “the Lord commands”. Christ, on the other hand, shows that the power comes from Him by using the pronoun “I”. He is the source of life because He is life. Even more, He is the only one who is. Here the command over death itself is given directly. In other cases, such as that of the man born blind Christ asked, “What will you have me to do?” The blind man’s response seems very obvious. “Lord that I may see”. But if we read carefully we can see that Christ always follows the same pattern: He affirms with total certainty that He is the one who can do something for the person. Second, we see that the secularization of faith today and the desire to desacralize everything, has created the right climate for almost all the miracles of Our Lord to be doubted. A paralytic – the explanation is a spontaneous reactivation of the functions of nerves; an epileptic – the power of suggestion that calmed the man, the leper – a diagnosis of leprosy was difficult to make in those days. The servant of the centurion who was cured – a passing fever; possession – a case of paranoid schizophrenia cured by the use of placebos. And so the list continues from the walking on the waters to the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, which by the way, Pope Francis himself blatantly said did not happen. Everything is reinterpreted except for one thing: the Resurrection. They simply try to delete death from history and worst of all, in their attempts, the modernists think they are doing something new. Of course they are not. It is the same blasphemy that the Pharisees tried to impose on the people regarding the Resurrection of Our Lord, telling them that He did not rise. They are all children of the same Father, the Prince of the Lie. The truth is what Our Lord shows here, that by His mercy he gives the gift of life but although it seems the main thing, the new life of the young man is not the most important thing. The most important thing is the new life of faith that the people around him received. Notice that the gospel says that a great multitude followed him to the point that there were two crowds that meet there; the one behind the coffin following death, and the one walking behind Christ, the Lord of life. We can almost imagine the sound of the wailing of the mourners abruptly stopping with the presence of the Divine Master. According to an ancient Hebrew tradition, women accompanied the corpse wailing, reminding everyone that through a woman death entered the world. Christ for His part demands nothing from the poor widow, not even faith. He just approaches, touches the coffin and commands death with His Divine Power. The young man rises and immediately begins to speak. God’s power cannot be resisted, there is no delay. And the gospel ends with the explanation of the people, “A great Prophet has risen among us and God has visited His people”. The sign of the Resurrection produces fruit, people open themselves to the life of the spirit through it, because they have enough common sense to accept what the perfidious men refused to accept. Contra vim mortis non crescit herba in hortis, No herb grows in gardens against the power of death. This is a saying that in the Middle Ages the doctor used to say that no one or nothing has the power on earth to conquer death. So the action made by Christ was a true miracle that proves His Divinity. This is why the whole liturgy of today does not ask for a material good, but a spiritual good. The Introit makes a concise summary when it says, “Gladden the soul of your servant, for You O Lord, I lift up my soul”. Two great mercies Christ has given us, To have paid our ransom with His death and, To have illuminated our spirits with the revelation of the truth of God. These indeed make an interesting allegory when He says that this young man represents the sinner who resurrects to the new life through the redemptive power of Christ. Summarizing the above, St. Paul today urges us not to waste the grace of God by living according to the flesh and its’ passions which are the grave diggers who carry our coffins leading us to the tomb, but to strive to do everything for the greater glory of God. May God give us the grace to at least be able to fulfill what today’s lesson tells us, bear one another’s burdens and you will fulfill the law of Christ. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.