Homily – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
When I was a senior in high school I was very interested in money but I also was curious about Tarot Cards and Ouija boards. I remember being on a trip to see my grandmother and my uncle. My uncle was a permanent deacon. We went to the mall for something and I saw a pack of tarot cards in the local bookstore. I mentioned that I was interested in finding out if those things really work. My father and my uncle reacted rather strongly. They told me that I should not even think about touching those things because they are tools of the devil. I told them that I didn’t think that was true because they told you the truth and the Devil told lies. My uncle said something I will never forget. He said the Devil is 95% truth; it is the other 5% that gets you. He will tell you just enough of the truth to get you hooked and then he will tell you the lie that kills you.
Well, I believed what I wanted to believe and I went back to the store an bought them. That night when I was alone in my room I took them out and used them for the first time. I asked a question regarding an investment I was looking too. I remember that what the cards said was: “Your financial future will change drastically in the near future.” I understood that to mean that it would be a successful investment because I didn’t have much to lose but had much to gain. I went to bed feeling satisfied and convinced that my Father and uncle didn’t know what they were talking about. It was between 2 -3am when my mother woke me screaming “Your Father is having a heart attack”. In the end it wasn’t a heart attack… it was a stroke that left him permanently disabled and ruined our family financially. The tarot cards were 95% correct… my financial future did change drastically… it was the other 5% that got me.
This true story that happened in my life illustrates a very important point in the scriptures today. But before I get to the scriptures for today I want to say one thing. If anyone in here owns or uses items such as tarot cards or Ouija boards, has ever owned or used them, or has allowed their children to own or use them I would like to you to seriously consider some suggestions. First, as soon as possible, you need to throwaway, destroy or burn these items. Second you need to go to confession as soon as possible and make as thorough a confession as you can. Finally you need to have me come to your home or wherever you used them and bless your home. These are not harmless forms of entertainment. They truly are tools of the devil and they open doorways through which evil spirits and demons can work in this world. These tools extend an invitation to evil and that invitation is rarely turned down.
That being said I would like to show you how this illustrates a truth in the scriptures today. I was unwilling to listen to what my father, my uncle the deacon and the church taught regarding these items. I wanted to believe what I wanted to believe. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
When we look at the gospel today we hear another parable of the sower. Christ tells us what each that he is the sower and he is sowing the seeds of truth and grace among mankind. The Devil is the enemy who sows lies and deceit among mankind. At the end of time mankind will be judged based on which seed was sown and bore fruit in their hearts and lives. The good going to eternal life and evil doers to the fiery furnace. It is important to look a bit deeper.
The Church Fathers and those who lived with the apostle knew that Christ was talking about the cockle-seed and wheat. The cockle-seed is a plant that grows among the wheat and so closely resembles it that is is hard to tell the difference between the plants until they are mature. It grows into a plant that is poisonous and potentially deadly to humans. The Church Fathers understood this seed to be a metaphor for false teachings or doctrine. They resemble the truth closely especially in the beginning. But as these false teaches grow they become more toxic and deadly. The devil speaks 95% of the truth; it is the other 5% that gets you.
From the very beginning the Devil has deceived mankind by speaking lies to us. God told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree in the Garden except one because that tree was deadly to them. The Serpent came along and tried to get Eve to eat from that Tree because he hates God and his creation. The scripture says he deceived Eve by telling her the opposite of what God taught. Eve was willing to believe it because she wanted to believe it. The scripture says the fruit was pleasing to her eye. She wanted the fruit, it appealed to her, and the Devil told her just enough of the truth for her to be able to believe him. She took what she wanted. It was the other 5%, the lie, that caused all the pain and suffering in the history of mankind. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
The Devil has not changed his tactics to this day. He doesn’t have to because they still work as well now as they did then. God tells us we should do somethings and we shouldn’t do others. Somethings are good for us and others bring us death. The devil comes along and lies to us. He tells us that God is wrong. He makes something that is good for us appear bad and something that is bad for us appear good. He uses just enough of the truth to convince us to believe him and we do because we desire what he is offering to us. We believe what we want to believe and we do what we desire rather than believe what God says. Because the devil is so subtle we may not see the danger until it is too late. Like the cockle-seed the lies of false doctrine and teaching can grow in our hearts and we will not know until it is too late and we reap what we sow. If we do not want to be cast into the fiery furnace then we need to sow the seeds of grace and truth in our hearts. We do this by holding firmly to what has been handed on to us by God. We refuse to believe anything that contradicts the doctrine and truth God teaches us in the scriptures and the Church no matter how much we might desire something else or how convincing the argument may be. The foundation we build our lives on is the teachings of Christ that come to us through the scriptures and the Catholic Church.
Many today would like to discount church teachings on controversial topics like abortion, contraception, homosexuality, the need to confess our sins to a priest and the need to go to mass every Sunday. They desire to do things that are forbidden or to avoid things they find displeasing. The Devil uses this desire against them and tempts them to deny the Church and God by doing what they want. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you. He convinces people to deny what God teaches and he uses their desires against them convincing them to deny God.
Christ tried to protect us against this by giving to the Pope the Gift of infallibility so we could always know the truth with confidence. Christ said that he would build His Church on Peter the Rock. He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. In other words if we are always with the Church and the Pope then we do not have to fear losing our souls because of false teaching. Christ then said to Peter whatever he taught as binding on earth would be bound with the full authority of heaven behind it.
Christ gave us this gift of papal infallibility so we could always be sure we were not being deceived by the Devil’s clever arguments and our disordered desires. Yet still today the Devil gets people to deny Christs authority given to the Pope. He convinces them that some teachings of the Pope we do not have to listen to. The Devil convinces them the Pope is wrong and they are right. He can do this because some people want what they want, and they believe what they want to believe so that they can get what they want. In the end though God will separate the weeds from the wheat and we will each reap what we have sown. As the scriptures say today “Whoever has ears ought to hear.” We can listen to the voice of the Catholic Church which Christ himself built on Peter the Rock or we can listen to the voice that tells us what we want to believe. The choice is yours. Choose well.
Archive for July, 2005
Homily – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Homily – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) NFP Week
Last week we spoke of the blessing and need for the gift of the infallibility of the Pope. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you. In a world that is becoming much more confused about morals we need more than ever the clear guidance of truth. Like Solomon we should seek out, and even beg for, the gifts of wisdom and understanding so that we are able to make right decisions in life and be faithful to God. It is a constant battle we must fight against ourselves. The Devil is constantly trying to get us to listen to his voice rather than God’s. Some people, sadly, do choose to hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe. As God said last week they have ears but they refuse to hear because if they did they would be converted. These are the people who allow the seeds of false teaching to be sown in their hearts so that they can convince themselves it is ok to do what they want to do rather than what the Bible or the Catholic Church teaches. One of the areas the devil attacks most viciously with his lies is the sacrament of marriage.
The Church teaches that the sacrament of marriage symbolizes Christ’s relationship with His Church. It is a relationship that is generous, self sacrificing, passion filled and fruitful in love. If the Devil can sell us a lie about marriage then he can corrupt the way we view our relationship with God. The devil wants us to choose his version of the world rather than Gods. He is constantly seeking to get us to reject God’s truth for our own desires or beliefs. If he does that successfully then he gets us to reject God and we become his for all Eternity. In order to avoid that we must choose to hold fast to what God has passed on to us. So we turn now to what God teaches, through the Church, about marriage.
First and foremost we must understand that marriage was created by God. The legal or political versions of marriage came well after. Since the very beginning of the world God instituted the sacrament of marriage. That means that it was created by God and can only be defined by him although political, legal and social voices often try to pervert that definition for their own ends. But we are not to listen to these false voices… Marriage belongs to God alone and we are to listen to God.
God established Marriage as a covenant. That means it is a bond between God and man that creates a family. The Covenant is not sealed just between a man and a woman. It it sealed between one man, one woman, and God himself. The temptation today is for people to leave God out of it. The couple might have their wedding in a Church but too often they leave God out of their day to day relationship and decision making. The devil convinces them they can succeed at marriage without God’s help.
Why it the devil so interested in attacking marriage? There are many reasons. One very important one is that Marriage gives us a very clear picture or understanding of the Trinity. A marriage lived according to God’s teachings helps the couple and the world to understand God in a deep and unique way. Marriage lived faithfully reflects clearly the Divine Life of the Trinity. If the Devil can distort our image of marriage then he can keep us from knowing God fully and truly.
In the Divine Love of the Trinity the Father Loves the Son completely and gives himself completely to the Son. The Son receives the love of the Father completely and returns that Love completely. The Love between them is so real that it is actually a third person the Holy Spirit.
Marriage reflects this in its nature and in the gift of conjugal love. In the marital act the Husband loves the Wife completely and gives himself completely to her. The wife receives the love of the husband completely and in turn gives her self completely to him. The Love between them is so really that it actually can become a third person with God’s help. In this way the sacrament of marriage becomes a witness to the Word of God’s complete, generous, self sacrificing fruitful love for us. It is this truth that the devil wants to replace with a lie. He attacks this is in persuading couples to have the marital act reflect something other than the Trinity so that it becomes a lie. One of the chief ways he does this is by seducing couples to use artificial contraception that disrupts the marital act and is not open to a third person. It becomes focused only on the couple and their desires. It is not sacrificial, it is not generous, it is not complete, and it is not fruitful. The use of artificial contraception perverts and corrupts the marital act so that it cannot reflect the love of God.
How does the devil convince people to do this? He does it by convincing them to believe lies. What lies? Here are some of them he convinces couples to believe: Children are a curse; children are bad and they prevent you from being happy; fertility is a curse; a woman’s fertility is something bad about her and it should be rejected and poisoned if need be; a woman is an object to be used for the man’s pleasure; we should actively work against God’s plan for our lives; God should not be included in our decision making as a couple; we should focus on the things of this earth and not the things of heaven.
If you presented these lies directly to a married couple who has chosen to use artificial contraception they might deny that they believe these things. But the devil does not do this directly. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you. Remember what I said last week. The devil is far smarter and much more subtle than we are. He gets us to deny God one teaching at a time. Let me show you how the Devil sells each of these lies to the contracepting couple.
Psalm 127 tells us: Children are a gift and blessing from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Children are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. The warrior is happy when his quiver is filled with them. They shall not be put to shame when they fight the enemy at the gates. God tells us that children are a blessing yet the couple that uses contraception sees them as a curse, as something that should be avoided. Choosing to use contraception is choosing to tell God you don’t want his blessings and gifts. For them the fruit of the womb is not a reward but a penalty they seek to avoid. God says fertility is a reward, the devil says it is a curse. God says that children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. The man who has many is happy. How many families are refusing to have large families? One or two children is enough for them. They believe they will be happier with fewer. That is not what God says. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you. In seducing a couple into believing they will be better off with contraception the devil gets them to reject God’s word.
The next lie is that a woman’s fertility is something bad about her and it should be rejected and poisoned if need be. A healthy woman, created in the image of God, is one who is fertile for a few days out of every month. Fertility is a natural healthy part of who she is. Yet contraception treats fertility as a disease. It rejects the health of the woman. It says that we must chemically poison that fertility or block it before she is acceptable to the man. It does not accept her completely for who she is but rejects a part of her that God created good. To become acceptable she must reject her natural God given gifts. She must make herself unhealthy. Barrier methods seek to reject the fertility and health of the man. Contraception does not see his fertility as a God given gift but as something that must be blocked and thrown away. When one person refuses to accept another completely then they cannot say that they truly love them. In fact they are using that person for their own purposes. Even if they both agree to use each other it still can not be called love. They are just using each other. It is always evil to use another person even if they agree to be used. Love does not reject any part of the beloved. It accepts them and rejoices in them. Contraception seeks to use another person not to love them. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
The next lie is that we should work against God’s plan and he should be left out of important decision making in the marriage. God created us, he knows and loves us and has a plan for our lives. That plan includes our bodies that were wondrously made. He gave us a natural way to work with him to be co-creators and to bring life into the world. There are only so many days that a woman is fertile every month. These can be known by visible signs. If we observe them then we are able to work with God to space pregnancies or delay them for important reasons. God’s plan also allows us to know when we can bring life into the world when we are ready. It is a God given plan designed by an all powerful, all loving and all knowing God. When a couple chooses to contracept they reject God’s plan for their lives. They say that they will be the master of their lives. God has no places in the decision making. Contraception seeks to put the decision only in the hands of the couple and to reject God’s plan for their lives. The devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
The teaching against the use of artificial contraception is not new but has been with us from the beginning of the Church 2000 years ago. Even after Martin Luther left the Catholic Church the teaching did not change. Every single Christian faith spoke out against it until 1929. Then the Anglicans allowed its use. The pope warned them this was a dangerous step that perverted the sanctity of marraige. He warned that it would lead to abortion, divorce, violence, euthanasia and other horrors. Was he right? In the sixties the use of the pill became available and since then we have seen abortion on demand become legal including partial birth abortion. The divorce rate has sky rockted. Our children are shooting other children in school. And it is becoming legal to kill people who are old or infirm like Terri Schiavo and call it mercy killings. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
God reveals his truth for our lives through the Sacred Scriptures and the teachings of the Catholic Church. He does this so we may truly live free and happy as he intended us. He has a plan for us and that includes a plan for how we use our bodies and how we are not to use them. The devil tries to convince us that God is a liar because he wants to destroy us. He doesn’t do it openly. He does it in darkness. He sows the seeds of false teaching the slowly lead us to destruction.
Like Solomon we either seek God’s wisdom and understanding or we seek to believe what we want to believe. We either give everything we have to attain the Truth which is the perl of great price or we choose other things above the truth. Every teaching of the Church and scriptures is worth giving everything we have to live it out faithfully. If there is something you don’t understand please ask me to talk with you and allow me to show you the beauty of God’s plan for your lives. We will either seek God’s wisdom and understanding or we will refuse to hear and undestand so that we can believe what we want to believe. The choice is yours. Choose well.
If all goes well I should have broadband tomorrow. Please pray they get my DSL up finally. Over a month without internet is a bit much for as much as I use it.
Howdy, I am not dead. I just can’t get my small town provider to hook up my DSL. HOpefully this week. I am at another parish now typing this and going out to the Black Hills for a few days.