lundi, septembre 03, 2007

Sermon for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost

Today’s liturgy is an encouragement to practice confidence toward God. It begins with an invocation taken from Psalm 83, Protector noster, O God, our Protector! I think we already have enough content with these two words for our meditation. God is our protector! This thought should put us into a state of peace and consolation. The Scriptures often praise the magnanimity of our God, who as a good Father, makes Himself our Refuge and our Protector. And it is good to hear or to read this, especially for us Christians of the XXI century, who live in an apostate world which has denied its Creator.
Listen to these verses from Psalm 62: "For he is my God and my Savior: He is my helper, I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: He is the God of my help, and my hope is in God. Trust in him, all ye congregation of people: pour out your hearts before him. God is our helper for ever. "
The Psalmist, inspired by the Holy Ghost, gives us here a deep and penetrating comfort. And we need it! We need it, because, as you already know, being a Christian is not something easy. The call of the Gospel is demanding and the obstacles are many. Even without the attacks from the world, we have to deal with our own inclinations which lead us into the works of the flesh. Saint Paul warns us: "For the flesh lusts against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh: For these are contrary one to another." (Gal. 5:17)
The flesh and the spirit are contrary one to another. In other words, it means that we have to choose one or the other, but we cannot choose both. The Divine Master Himself teaches us: "No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other." (Mt. 6:24)

So, we have to choose: the flesh or the spirit. It is one or the other, but it cannot be both. The flesh is what leads us towards death. It is not only the carnal and bodily sins but also the sins of the mind. Saint Paul numbers some of them, such as fornication, uncleanness or immodesty, but also enmities, dissensions or envies. These last ones can lead to other sins more grave, such as wrath and then murder. Most of the time, we certainly do not extend our anger to the extreme of physical murder, at least I hope not. But Jesus has promised the same punishment for those who are guilty of anger toward their neighbor. "Whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment." (Mt. 5:21-22)

And what about envy? Envy is also a work of the flesh that leads to death. It is certainly more frequent than physical murder and its consequences are wrenching. An envious person is a blind person who is ready to do almost anything in order to eliminate the one that he envies. Sometimes this elimination can be physical, as it was when Cain killed his own brother. The apostle Peter, who had certainly met some envious brothers, says that we have to lay away "all malice and all guile and dissimulations and envies and all detractions." (1Peter 2:1)

We have to recognize, my dear brethren, that it is obviously not easy. Who, among us, has never been tempted to envy his brother or never felt anger toward another person? Being tempted or feeling anger are certainly not yet sins, but let us not have confidence in ourselves. For from a temptation or a feeling to a sin, there is one step, and this step can be done quickly and easily. In fact, following our passions is easier than following Jesus.
For this reason, we need to be comforted in our life and in Jesus with an extraordinary insightful sense that teaches us and comforts us as we read in the gospel today. Be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, or for your body, what you shall put on. And then He explains how our Father takes care of us with a paternal affection. He even feeds the birds. Are not we of much more value than they? God is a good Father and I am afraid that we too often forget this fact. Yet, this thought is such a precious comfort for us. When we are tempted by discouragement or by doubt, when our cross seems to be too heavy, when we are assailed by the fire of our inordinate passions, let us turn to our Father and remember that it is good to confide in Him, as the Psalm of the Gradual says.
"Bonum est confidere in Domino - It is good to confide in the Lord, It is good to trust in the Lord. "(Ps.117:8-9) Yes, it truly is, because if you trust in Him and confide in Him, you have nothing to fear. Confidence brings peace. It does not mean that we no longer have a cross to carry, but that we carry it with peace and even joy. It does not mean that we are no longer threatened by the works of the flesh, but that, with the help of grace, we can overcome them because we live in the Spirit. It does not mean that we have nothing to do since our Father feeds even the birds, but that, providing that we are seeking first the Kingdom of God and its justice, He will give us what we need. It is not in vain that we ask Him to give us our daily bread.

God is Our Father and it is good and comforting to confide in Him. May Our Lady help us to remember this, she, who, being the most faithful child of the Father has deserved to become the Mother of the Son. Let us learn from her how to be good children.

1 commentaire:

Anonyme a dit…

"God is a good Father and I am afraid that we too often forget this fact. Yet, this thought is such a precious comfort for us."
Thank you, Father, for your encouraging sermon. We are starved for words like this where we are.
God bless you