jeudi, janvier 22, 2009

sermon for the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany

Saint Paul reminds us again of our duties. We all have our place in a Christian community because the body of Christ is composed of different members that are all important for the common good. We have gifts differing according to the grace that has been given us. We also have different vocations and we have to be faithful in our own state of life. I know that the temptation is great to look for something else. Priests are tempted to act as if they were not priests, considering themselves as anyone else and forgetting that they have been vested with the authority of Christ and His sacred power. Lay people think that they can do what priests do. It is true that allowing lay people to come into the sanctuary during the liturgy has created or increased a certain confusion of mind. The concept of the Church as the hierarchical society founded by Christ became blurred, and today, many consider the Church just as a family, a communion.
And the Church is really such, but not only. Being a family is a good thing in itself but it is not necessarily a sign of truth and of authenticity of the Catholic Church. There are many human institutions that consider themselves as a family. And even in the natural community that is a family, there is not always love and unity, especially today in a society when divorces are so usual.
It is with humility that we should consider our position in the Church. Whatever we have received, it is a gift from God, not only for ourselves, but for the entire community. But if I put myself above others, I can only fail in my vocation. If I think that I am right and that others are wrong, I can only fail in my vocation. If I try to deal with things that do not pertain to my state of life, I can only fail in my vocation. And failing in my vocation means that my salvation is jeopardized!
God asks us to be simple, to do just what we have to do, and to love. Let love be without pretense! You have to love, not to pretend to love. It is not the same thing. A true Christian loves while a professed Christian pretends to love. Both come to the church and are involved with the different activities of the community, but one is sincere, while the other is a hypocrite.
When Our Lord said to the scribe, who had answered Him that eternal life was to be gained by loving God and his neighbor, “Thou hast answered right”, this ought to be enough, Cardinal Newman says. But his object was not to please God, but to exalt himself. And, therefore, he went on to make an objection. “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” whereas they only are justified in God’s judgment, who give up the notion of justifying themselves by word or deed, who start with the confession that they are unjust, and who come to God, not upon their own merits, but for His mercy.
How often do we justify ourselves, which is a lack of simplicity, instead of just recognizing who we are and what we have done? O I know! That is an old story. Adam made his own excuse: the woman, whom Thou gavest to me, she gave me of the tree. Same thing for Eve: The serpent beguiled me. But we don’t have to imitate them.
How wise is the advice of Saint Paul: Do no set your mind on high things but condescend to the humble. There is but one Lord. We are all his servants. May Our Blessed Mother help us remember this!

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