Sermon for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost – September 25, 2011 by Father Stephen
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of God,
When we are baptized, few of us really penetrate it’s meaning.. We have been changed. We are not just human beings any more. We became the temple of the Holy God. Our bodies, St. Paul says, are temples of the Holy Spirit of God. We were given the life of God, the virtues given to us, infused in us. St. Paul says, and refers to this when he speaks of it, that we who have been given the life of God, that means God is alive within us in ways that He is not present in any other creature. God is personally within the person being baptized into Christ by the power of His death and resurrection. He earned that right for us, that privilege, that election that God lives in us. St. Paul says that the Spirit of God is given to us and if we are, and we are because the sacraments don’t fail, then we must walk. Last Sunday he said we must walk, this Sunday he says we must live the life of that Spirit, because if we don’t, the alternative is that we follow the flesh that kills God’s life in our soul. Our soul becomes dead. Too few confessions here, we have here probably about 150 people. I have about seven confessions. You wonder how serious traditional Catholics we are.
Jesus came into our world, left His glory behind. He made a sacrifice, so did the Father, He sent his Son to be killed. That’s why He came, to give us a second chance that mankind has lost ever since Adam and Eve. God is merciful and compassionate. He reaches down and how many of us pay attention to that love, that mercy, to that compassion. God is bending Himself down. He doesn’t have to, it’s an act of sacrifice, an act of humility. The least we can do is to look at Jesus and learn from Him. He says, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart”. He is our model, he is the Man you and I can and ought to be. God does not expect the impossible. He gives us His grace, earned by the blood and life sacrificed by Our Lord on the cross. And, yet, we, when we fail to walk and to live the life of the spirit, we live the live of the flesh. We reach out toward the internet, we go into channels that are forbidden, we visit people we ought not to, we allow other people to touch us, we touch others, we are living the life of flesh, reaping death, and totally oblivious of what we are doing.
St. Paul says God is not mocked. God is not mocked. Mary said God is already too much offended. Make reparations, each one of us daily, offering sacrifices. I start every prayer with an Act of Contrition. God does not hear a sinner’s prayer unless he is seeking forgiveness from the heart, and forgives others from the heart, Jesus said. Don’t expect God to forgive you unless you yourself have forgiven all those who offend you. Jesus said those who persecute you, you pray for them. Now this tells us already that you can do that. And when you do that you are acting in a manner that is that is supernatural, not natural. The natural man hits back the one who offends him. We are born anew, supernaturally. Our supernatural response is to forgive. God, who is supernatural, does forgive and seeks our lives. Jesus says, I have come that they may have life, they might have joy that will last. How merciful, how tender, how attending God is to each one of us, created in His own image and likeness, and how little we appreciate who we are. We are precious in God’s eyes.
Now Jesus in the gospel is entering a town, and if you carefully read, and I hope you would read carefully every day the gospels, because unless you know Jesus, you cannot imitate Him. He is our model, he is our road map. Know Jesus daily, communion with Him, learn from Him, that you may be like Him, because you ought to be. That is the only way you will enter His kingdom. So, this revelation of God, because He is God, is the revelation of the Father who said, “Whoever sees Me, sees the Father”. So, Jesus is our window of God.
Now, the gospel tells us carefully, describing what happens, there is a town Jesus is entering, and the gospel writer says, with His disciples and with a great multitude coming behind Jesus, and they enter a town. And there at the town gate a dead man is being carried out. A sad scene, quiet, somber, and also a great multitude, the whole town is there. The woman is a widow who has lost her husband. She had only one son, her hope gone. She is weeping. Jesus, from a distance, calls out to her, “Weep not”. And when He reaches them, He touches the bier on which the casket was carried. And at that moment, they freeze, they stop. The supernatural is touching the natural. What is misery, sadness, death, the finger of God touches. But the woman was unprepared by the kindness of Jesus, hearing His words, “Do not weep”, encouraging her, strengthening her, giving her new hope with the words spoken. God doesn’t need to speak, but He speaks for our own good that confirms what He does. He is imparting life where there is no life. God the creator touches the nothingness and things happen, creatures are made, the universe is made, everything comes into being and time begins, a new time for this young man and his mother. And the crowd was stunned, they were stunned. They know, they experience the presence of God. There is no doubt, they are overwhelmed. What did the gospel say? They were filled with fear.
Now, the gospel tells us that fear is a sign of knowing our sins, because in the presence of God, sin runs. And we wonder, then, where are we in fear. And, yet, Jesus’ presence continues, and that town will never be the same.
What will you or I do when we realize God’s presence, which is in every moment. We are not paying attention. Every moment He sustaining us, giving us life. Theology tells us that God, by loving, sustains us. We could not be unless God’s love is creating us continually. Philo, the pagan philosopher said, the whole world is filled with God. A pagan recognizes that. How much more you and I ought to realize we are living in God’s presence. We ought to be stunned all the time, fearing to offend Him.
Last Sunday I spoke about fear. There are two kinds of fear. Fear for one’s self, Jesus said, this is useless. There is another kind of fear, the Bible, the Old Testament already talks about it. We must have that. What is that? Fear directed not towards self but toward the Almighty, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. When you fear God, you don’t want to offend Him. You examine your thoughts, your desires, anything that could or could not be either virtue or sin, we examine. We are rational. As Paul says, we are rational. And because we are rational, we choose. And we are free. We have freedom. We can choose and we can save our soul or cast God out of our lives and lose ourselves forever. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Today, other people are mocking God. They say, I don’t fear God, I love Him. No you don’t. You deceive yourself. If you don’t fear God, you don’t know God, you don’t know yourself. You are mocking God and you are deceived and lost. You don’t have faith. You have a sort of faith that you made up, but it doesn’t have the content of the truth, the way God really is.
Jesus said, “No one knows the Father but the Son. And whomever the Son wishes to reveal Him”. And, if you don’t read the gospel, St. Jerome says, you are ignorant of Christ. So don’t tell anyone you know God, you know Christ, if you don’t read the scriptures. How many of us really read the scriptures daily, getting to know Jesus more and more. He is our model, He is our gate. He said so. “No one comes to the Father but through Me.” And you are called. God has bent down for you when you were baptized. You were raised in the faith, hopefully instructed in the faith, hopefully you didn’t stop there, but on your own are seeking God that you may bear fruit, Jesus said, fruit that will last. Now our supernatural faith is that. It’s not natural. It’s not. God is a superior being, not of this world. This world depends on Him. He is the Lord. We are dependent on Him. Supernatural faith is reaching above the natural and communing with the supernatural, depending on the supernatural, seeking His help, asking for His help. Jesus said, “Ask and My Father will give it to you.” Most often He does not give unless we ask. We are special creations. He doesn’t owe us anything, except when we are in grace, then He rewards our deeds. That is growing in grace. That requires that we daily overcome our natural inclinations, our curiosity toward things. So we don’t love things on a natural plane, but on a supernatural plane. That is what Jesus is showing us. When He prays for His persecutors, that is a supernatural act, that is not natural. Natural man doesn’t do that. When you forgive those who offend you, that is a supernatural act. When you turn your cheek, that is supernatural. And you are to harvest supernatural deeds daily that you may increase your joy and the gifts that God has given you, making them bear interest that will last. Jesus said, “Collect treasures in Heaven”, not on earth, in Heaven. Your good deeds will go with you, we pray at a funeral Mass. All other things pass away. Our sins and our virtues remain.
So, my dear people, beloved people of God, you are called to live the life of God on a plane that is superior to the natural. Examine your deeds, your thoughts, your desires which are road maps to your deeds. Desires and thoughts precede our deeds. Check them, making sure that they are moving and you are doing the deeds. It’s not enough to intend, but to actually do. Jesus said, “Not those who pray, not those who say Lord, Lord, will go into His Kingdom, but those who do.” See, deeds are an overflowing of the being. They prove who we really are. If you do the things of the flesh, you are corrupt in the flesh and you reap death. But if you follow and live in the spirit, as St. Paul instructs in the Galatians, you will do things Jesus fashions, the way Jesus would do. What would Jesus do right now? Ask yourself, always do that, and you are going to save your soul and you will find life. Jesus said, “I will raise you up on the last day”. He also said, “In the Kingdom, the least will be greater than John the Baptist”. How many of us can say that we are greater than John the Baptist? And we will be only the least. Examine yourself. Jesus said, “If you have done everything that you are supposed to do, you are useless, but we have only done what we were supposed to do and nothing beyond.
Seek the holiness of God and His justice in you. Don’t mock Him, because God is alive in you. And if you choose anything contrary, you are mocking God. You make Him go and your soul becomes dead, weak, powerless, nothing good you can do without God’s grace and presence.
Pray daily, pray daily, frequently that you desire to save your soul and come with some gifts to God to give Him His due and glory.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.