Sermon for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost
The Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins! The statement is clear, plain and firm. You either believe in it or you don’t. In other words, you either believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came into the world in order to redeem us, or you don’t. It is a matter of Faith.
For the rationalists, Faith is not reasonable. For many others, it is just uncertain. Therefore, Jesus comes to sustain our Faith by His miracles. “Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and walk?” Then He tells us the purpose of miracles: “that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” Only God has this power, so asserting that He has such a power is a proclamation of His divinity. Some believe Him, others don’t. The Faith in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ establishes a separation among men between those who believe in Him and those who don’t believe in Him. Christ truly is the stumbling block. As Saint Peter says, to those who believe, He is honor, but to the non-believers, He his the head of the corner and a rock of scandal. These will be confounded for not having accepted Jesus in and through Faith since they had the occasion to do it.
The fact is that there is a huge confusion between Faith and supernatural phenomenon. By supernatural, I don’t mean here the Divine order of grace, which is the Catholic meaning of this word, but rather a generic form of the word referring to anything extraordinary or any paranormal manifestation. Many people don’t consider a miracle to be a Divine act whose purpose is to animate our Faith, but rather as an interesting event that merits in itself all our attention. For them, the most important aspect of the miracle is the effect and not the cause, which denotes a lack of intelligence or, at least, a certain will to not know. The problem is that this attitude is also widespread among many Catholics who, without any good discernment, rush to the see the sights of the apparitions – or so-called apparition – because they estimate it to be very important. Sometimes, they make many sacrifices and efforts in order to go there or to meet a so-called visionary. By the way, a true visionary is usually very discreet and prefers to hide himself rather than to give a press conference to explain what God or Our Lady wants. But the same people who rush to the places of apparitions don’t make nearly as much efforts to confess regularly – at least once a month – and to attend Mass during the week. They prioritize the sensational aspect of their pilgrimage but neglect the daily care of their souls. They think that it would be very profitable for them to meet Jesus in such a great occasion, but they forget that they have a greater occasion every day in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. They just forgot that Faith is more important than any miracle because miracles are for Faith and the goal is more important than the means.
The Apostle Thomas, probably before he became Saint Thomas, had succumbed to this temptation. He wanted to see, as the world does. The world wants signs; it wants to see. It is always a quest for sensational and the media are fond of it. Thomas had the spirit of the world and didn’t believe. He wanted visible proof of Christ’s resurrection. Our Lord asked Him for an act of Faith: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.
Dear Brethren, let us be men or women of Faith. It is hard, but it is the only way to go to God. We can reach Him in truth only by an act of Faith, which is a true supernatural act in the precise meaning of the word ‘supernatural’.
May Our Lady help us to sustain our Faith, so that we can really be blessed, in the expectation of Beatific Vision!