Sermon for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost – August 12, 2012 by Father Stephen Galambos
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Dear faithful, we just celebrated last Monday the Transfiguration of Our Lord. Now, this occurred before Jesus died as a man and rose from the dead. He didn’t die yet, and that’s all the more significant, because in this transfiguration, His Divinity was revealed in a miraculous way. As you read in the gospel, Jesus’ face changed, His whole appearance, His body was glowing radiantly, like a bright sun. There appeared Moses and Elijah, representative of the prophets and the law, the Heavenly Father’s voice telling them to listen to His Son. Jesus wanted to show Himself to strengthen the faith that the apostles already had, some portion of it, that is, that they would all the more be convinced of their faith, being the vehicle of salvation, because the faith in Jesus is the opening door to eternal life, and we are about to celebrate Mary’s Assumption, which is the fulfillment of our faith, that we, as Mary, will also, body and soul, resurrected, will be with Our Lord and God in Heaven forever.
Now, you have heard this at every Mass that what we have on our altars all throughout the world is about one thing, our faith in the dead and the risen Lord. We celebrate His death with Jesus’ solemnity. So every time we come to church, remember we are not just coming to an ordinary event. This is what changed the entire human race, the great news, the apostles, when they discover that Jesus has risen, has filled their hearts and changed everything in their lives.
You must ask yourself, now that we have witnessed the church’s belief and proclamation, the preachings, the Mass, the catechism, our training in our faith, Is this the great news? Or do we just brush it aside as just another thing in the day to do, and then to turn to the ways that you have been following which are very little different from the ways of the world. That’s what statistics tell us that we Catholics make no difference. What a tragedy. Now, St. Paul himself is bringing this news again to his own converts in the great City of Corinth in Greece, because he recognized that the resurrection of Christ is the touchstone of faith for every Christian believer in Christ. He not only relates, St. Paul, the fact of the Resurrection of Christ, but he tells his faithful of the many witnesses whom Christ had chosen at that time to let them see after His death and resurrection.
We are not in that generation. We are removed two thousand years. So, this is not that news that was for those people who heard it for the first time. The apostles were astounded. Their loss of faith in Jesus has rekindled. They became ardent apostles, and that is exactly the purpose of Jesus, to lift humanity out of sin from this world, opening up a brand new universe, to live forever.
The Greeks were jealous of their many gods because they said, We are mortals and they live forever. For us, this is not a figurative as St. Peter says. Every one of the apostles went to their death with that faith, knowing whom they believed. You must ask the question, Does the Resurrection, your faith, make a difference in your life? Or do you fall into the drift of the day and become just ordinary like everybody else, no different?
So, we must do a little soul searching, examine our conscience. Am I gathering with the Lord souls to Him, save souls, or am I myself being a terrible example, a scandal to others, dragging them to sin, using my own soul and that of others? What are we doing with our faith.
Now, St. Paul felt the gravity of that news because Jesus appeared to him as he says, “He appeared to Cephas, Peter, the eleven apostles, and five hundred brethren, many of them are still with us and they tell us what they see“. So he bears witness to his converts in Corinth — Corinth was a very sinful city, like Hollywood or any other town here in Orange County. Sin is all around us. You must guard your eyes because sin is everywhere. And many of us take a second glance at it, which is a mortal sin, as you know. So, don’t look for things, keep Jesus in front of your eyes. Recognize that because Jesus has risen, God has invited me, gave me an invitation, official, and we enter into His presence and live with Him forever. Am I preparing my days for that great event, the last moment of my life when I leave this earth and God is opening the door for me? Because that is what Jesus said. “Those who suffer with Me, those who believed in Me and because they believed they were willing to suffer and accept the crosses that the Father is sending them”. Or are you cursing because you have to suffer as if you had no faith? Test your faith. Does it console you, does it lift you up? Examine your faith, what kind of faith do you have? Because faith in Christ, true faith in Christ, makes you like Jesus, holy, because God wants every one of us to be holy. That’s what He said. Ever since the Old Testament, “Be holy, because I, your Lord, am holy”. And Jesus repeated that, “Be perfect as my Heavenly Father is perfect”.
So don’t complain that sin is all around you and you have to sin. You don’t. We are the only creatures in this entire universe that can shape our destiny, our future, personally. Each one of us has the power to alter our lives and live forever in hell or in heaven. And the choice is so stark and the dividing line is so thin that many of us get confused and miss. Jesus said, “Few will be saved, few find the path, and even fewer persevere in it”. So, we must ask the question, Do we share that faith?
My dear friends, we are weak in the sense that we are impressionable. Our environment is so open, so critical, so powerful that unless we have the faith that can push all the things around us away from us, we can lose our soul. So, be wise, surround yourself with things that remind you of your faith. Out of the 24 hours, take out at least an hour a day where you are immersing yourself with the message of Jesus. Read half an hour the holy Bible. You can get a plenary indulgence by doing so. Go to confession within the eight days, receive worthily the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Each day you can gain a plenary indulgence by reading for a half an hour the Holy Scripture.
Read books that are holy, not tearing your mind away from Christ. Surround yourself with friends. Be careful with whom you are going to associate, because whatever you pay attention to, that is what you will become, whether it is an idol, or an entertainment, or a person or a pleasure, that is what you become, which is idolatry, a substitute for God Himself. You are so precious that Jesus came down on earth to die just for you, if you were the only person on this planet.
Your faith is everything, but if you don’t understand it, if you don’t know it, if you don’t surround yourself with an environment that will strengthen you, you are going to lose your soul very easily. Our Lady said at Fatima, people fall into hell as flies during Fall at Autumn time. Jesus said, “Most will be damned. Few find the path”, He said, “few”. Don’t kid yourself just because we are traditional Catholics we are all going to be saved. No. In the traditional seminary where Father Peek was preaching to us priests as seminarians, he said, “Most people in this room will go to hell”. And that’s a fact. Our Lady confirms it.
Many people here miss Mass more than among those who are coming to the Novus Ordo Mass. Just because we are traditional, doesn’t mean salvation. It means traditional because we practice the true faith and not give lip service, criticizing others, and when the time comes to be tested, we are just falling away just like the rest of them, even as pagans do, let alone Novus Ordo.
Don’t judge, my dear friends. Let God be God, not you. We all depend on God’s mercy, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Alphonsus says, “She is the only one who can get us even through the back door, even if Jesus would not”. Mary is your hope, but if you don’t pray the rosary, if you don’t surround yourself with the saints to follow her, and the other wonderful saints who have, on the occasions on which we have parties, and then forget the meaning of the message of the saints. St. Philomena we just celebrated yesterday. How many people do penance? How many people are willing to suffer, give up things, the ways of the world, the fashions that everybody else follows. You are special. You are traditional Catholics. At least, that’s what you say.
Dear friends, let us begin to practice, go to confession frequently. There are too few confessions I hear. There are too many people coming to Holy Communion compared to those who go and wash clean. Many people don’t know their sins. Many people take lightly what sins are. They are offenses and are cutting us off from God. Sin cuts the soul off from God like a branch severed. Many people take sins lightly. Why go to confession? That’s not remorse, that’s not a contrite heart. That’s not a faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
St. Paul says, “Unless we die with Jesus, we will not rise with Him”. Are you dying daily to yourself? Is your mind directed towards Him or to things of your curiosity, your complacency? The natural man must die.
That’s the news, that we are born and we are destined for super nature, not for this world, but for God’s world which is above it. And it is there for you every day and you choose it when you say, I deny myself, you are choosing super nature. You must trample your nature under foot, discipline your body and don’t allow your body to dictate to you. You dictate to your body, to the flesh, to the devil and to the world. Unless you daily fight that fight, you are going to lose your soul.
Come clean when you go to Holy Communion, cleanse, knowing your sins, having sought God’s mercy and forgiveness, and if you mean it, He does forgive. But, if you have bad intentions, thoughts, going to go back to my old ways, confession is not valid, there is no forgiveness, you have not turned against your sins. You don’t hate your sin. You find pleasure in it. Lord, save our souls.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.