Sermon for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost – September 23, 2012 by Father Trinh
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. In our first reading today to the Ephesians and to us, the Lord reminds us that we do not have the option to worship two, three or more gods. There is no ecumenical faith in our holy religion because the Lord Jesus, God the Son Incarnate, taught the Church, and the Holy Catholic Church teaches us there is only one God, one Savior, or today, as we heard, One Lord, One faith, one baptism, one God who is the Father of all. There is no other god but the one God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
And the Lord taught us, He love us so much and He was willing to die on the cross for us. And He did die on the cross for us. So, let us imitate our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, in loving our God. For the rest of our time on earth let us ask for the grace that we will love and serve the Lord faithfully as our ultimate good and ultimate end. If the Lord is our ultimate good, then we should pray and meditate upon the Lord, and focus our life upon Him and Him alone, so that the Lord truly is our ultimate God. No other god can surpass our God.
What happens if we only love God as a means with half of our heart? In that case then the Lord is not our ultimate love, not our ultimate end. And inside of our soul, we will be split. At certain times we want to love the Lord, but certain times we will love things in the world better, and then we will be selfish. We will calculate our time, No, I want to watch more TV, I want to spend time with my friends or even things that start to be dangerous. I want to go gambling, I want to drink too much, et cetera, and very soon even in good recreation, like eating and drinking moderately, very soon, because we do not look at God as our ultimate good, we will lower our thinking and our love of Him. And very soon He is only one of the gods in our lives. Even for traditional Catholics who claim that we worship only the Lord Jesus Christ and not Buddha or Mohammad or anyone else, yet, if our time is spent too much on drinking, eating, gambling and all things else, we are not truly treating the Lord as our ultimate God. Because if the Lord is our ultimate God, we will be willing to sacrifice our time, our energy, our everything in us to focus on the Lord. We will be willing to pay the price to love Him as He deserves.
The Lord told us He is a jealous God. So, if we don’t love Him with our whole heart and soul and being, very soon we will love other things. So being ecumenical, being a bad Catholic, does not necessarily mean that we worship Buddha or Mohammad ourselves. It also means we do not put our whole heart on the Lord Jesus Christ. We compromise our time and our effort, and we look elsewhere for satisfaction, for happiness. And little by little, we reduce the Lord Jesus Christ even into a bad situation, and He becomes a beautiful statue in our lives, but not a living God and not THE God of our lives. That’s why our first reading is insistent that we need to love the Lord our God. And there is only one God for us to love, and there is one faith, the Catholic faith, for us to believe, and one baptism for us to be in.
Our gospel reading, the Lord Jesus confirms it and He confronts the Pharisees who try to tempt Him. And He will confront our soul and remind us that we must love God with our whole heart, with our whole soul and with our whole mind. Because if we do not successfully learn how to love Him with our whole being, then when we die, the Lord will have to judge us and put us where our heart belongs. If our heart belongs to hell because we love the devil, the world and the flesh too much and not repent of our sins and truly confess our sins, in other words, if we love the Lord only a little bit, the majority of our heart we love someone else, something else that is evil, or just so so good, then, when we die, we will have to go to hell, where people do not love God with their whole soul, whole body and whole being.
We have a choice how we live in this life and how we will end up after we die. If we love Him not wholeheartedly, let’s say two-thirds of our heart, and we sincerely try to go to confession every other week or at least monthly, and sincerely pray the rosary daily, and go to the true Mass whenever the Lord allows us to do, focus on Him and believe that He is the only God that can bring perfect happiness to our life, then, even at times when we made mistakes and did not love Him with our whole heart, by His grace we will end up being purified in purgatory where people love God more than fifty percent of their time, more than fifty percent of their hearts, and then they will be purified in purgatory accordingly to how much they still need to love God, until they reach the maximum as God demands of our souls. Then they can join God in heaven.
All of us might claim that we love God and want to go to heaven, but there is no other true teaching that can bring us to heaven except the commandment of the Lord. And the Lord makes it very clear. We have to love the Lord with our whole heart, with our whole souls, with our whole being. No exception, no shortcut.
In heaven, there is no such thing as a saint who loves God only sixty percent and the other forty percent that person still like eating, drinking and everything else. We cannot do that. Where do you and I want to be? Where would you and I want to be when we die? Who should be our God and how should we treat our God? I pray that our God will be the Lord Jesus Christ, and I pray that we will learn, we will pray. We spend time, for example, studying our catechism. Even though we think we know our catechism, we still need to read and reflect on good books besides the Douay- Rheims Bible. We have so many other good Catholic books like the Imitation of Christ, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, even Baltimore Catechism, book number three for the adults, and many other good tools that the Lord is helping us to increase the amount of love in our hearts for God. And besides the regular personal prayers, the Lord wants us to participate in praying the rosary of the Holy Blessed Virgin Mary, our heavenly Mother. The Lord wants us truly to prepare ourselves well to receive Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. So many ways for us to love the Lord with our whole hearts and beings.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us sacrifice ourselves and put God first in our lives, and put God in the center of our lives, so that little by little we know God more perfectly, and we love God more fully, and then we can serve God more faithfully in this life, until the last day of our life on earth the Lord can say to us, You finished your task, now come into heaven where your heart longs, where I call you to be with Me, the only God there is, in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, Holy Ghost. On earth you have to use faith, hope and charity to know Me, love Me, and serve Me. Now, come into heaven because now you don’t need to use faith or hope, because now you can love me fully and directly, because now I allow you to have the Beatific Vision and see Me as I am, and realize there is no other perfect happiness except to be with God in heaven. You prepared yourself well on earth with My graces. You did not deny me and put Me second in your life. Come into heaven with Me where you belong.
Loving God, many times we neglect you and we treat you badly. Please forgive us and help us to know You, to love You, and to serve You perfectly on earth and be with You in heaven forever.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.