Archive for the ‘Homily’ Category

Homily – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

July 31, 2005

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.

Advertisements

Homily – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) NFP Week

July 31, 2005

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.

Homily – Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

June 6, 2005

Homily – Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Our readings to day speak to us of the virtue of hope. The Catechism tells us that Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness. It allows us to place our trust in Christ’s promises and rely not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. The virtue of hope responds to the desire for happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man. It purifies men’s earthy hopes and activities and directs them to the Kingdom of heaven. It keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal happiness. Strenthened by hope, the Christian is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from true love. Christian hope takes up and fulfills the hope of the chosen people which we hear about in the second reading today. That hope begins in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promises of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice. “Hoping against hope, he believed, and thus became the father of many nations.”
Christian hope is taught to us from the beginning of Jesus’ preaching in the Sermon on the Mount. The beatitudes, the blessings, lead our hope toward its goal of heaven as the new Promised Land. They show us the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. Because Christ died for our sins on the cross God can place in us a “hope that does not disappoint.” “Hope is the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . ” where Jesus has gone ahead of us on our behalf. Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation against the devil who desires us to lose hope and doubt God. The scriptures tell us: “Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”It affords us joy even under trial: “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation.” Hope is expressed and strengthened in prayer. This is especially true in the Our Father. It is the prayer that is the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire. We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven. This is God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.” She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven.
This great virtue of hope is a God given gift that we receive in baptsim. Like all the gifts we are given by God we are expected to use them and increase them for his Glory. Yet also like any God given gift the Devil seeks to pervert it and distort it to lead us away from God. Hope is no different. The virtue of Hope can be perverted in two ways to become the sins of Despair and Presumption.
Despair causes man to cease to hope for his personal salvation from God. It can cause him to believe that he is beyond help the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God’s goodness. God made us for heaven. It is contrary to his to his justice – for the Lord is faithful to his promises. And it is contrary to his Mercy to say that he wouldn’t forgive somone who was truly repentant that had turned away from their sin and toward God.
We should have a firm hope that if we love God by keeping his commandments that we will go to heaven. We do not rely on our own strength but we rely on God’s strength and mercy. With his grace we can live holy lives that will lead us to the gates of Heaven.
Today presumption is the more common of the sins against hope. There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit). The second of these afllicts many Christians and a rapidly increasing number of Catholics.
We see this in the example of the first reading and the Gospel. In the first reading we see those people who call upon God when times are tough but quickly forget him when things go well. They will beg God to save them if they are in financial difficulties and even be angry with him if he doesn’t respond. Yet when they prosper they are cheap with God. They expect God and the Church to beg them for money and they will only give it if they can control it. They come up with all sorts of excuses as to why they are holding back their tithe. In reality they have hard hearts that love money. They do not love God but instead try to use him.
In the Gospel we see the Pharisees who are critical of Jesus for eating with Sinners. They see themselves as righteous because outwardly they appear to the world to be good people. But Christ sees hearts that are blackened with the sin of pride and presumption. The pharisees are quick to point out the fault of others and to excuse themselves.
The second kind of presumption occurs today whe people assume that they will go to heaven and make no effort to convert their lives to ways of holiness. For them they believe that Hell doesn’t exist and they can’t go there. They live a life of cheap grace that expects God to reward them for doing the bare minimum. Good works are important. We must be people of integrity who are doers of the word not just hearers of the word. But works are not what gets us to heaven. God cannot be bought. What gets us to Heaven is a faithful heart deeply in love with Jesus Christ. Those deeply in love with another seek to please their beloved. They do not seek to do the bare minimum to keep their beloved happy. That is not love. That is presumption that seeks to use another person. It is a love of self and a mockery of God. God will not be mocked.
God plants within us the seeds of our Salvation at baptism. We are to nurture and care for those seeds so they will grown into a healthy tree of faith. If the tree is heatlhy it’s fruit will be clearly seen in our life of conversion. Holiness is the fruit of a living faith. Yet as the scripture says if the tree does not bear good fruit it will be cut down and cast into the fire.
We should have a firm and lively hope that God will give us everything we need to live lives of holiness. But if we refuse to use the gifts and graces he gives us and our lives do not bear the fruit of holiness then we cannot presume that God will allow us to mock him. He desires, deserves, and demands or hearts to be truly and authentically in love with him. He will not accept a cheap substitute. We know that God loves us completely. It is our firm and lively Hope that he gives us what we need to respond in love to him. The question we need to answer is will we accept what he offers us and will we use it to offer ourselves back to him? It is my hope that you will. The choice is yours. Choose well.

Homily – Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

April 18, 2005

Homily – Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Today we hear in all three readings about the good shepherd and what he does for his flock. This is a constant teaching of God throughout Salvation history. From the Old Testament (as we hear in the Psalm today), to the time that Christ walked the earth (as we hear in the Gospel today), and to the present day (as we hear in the 1st and 2nd readings today) we are given shepherds to lead and guide us.
We hear clearly in the Gospel today that we have serious need of a shepherd. Christ coming to Shepherd us is for our own good. In the Gospels when he saw the people he saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd. He had pity on them and began to teach them. Christ recognizes that we need to be led and that we are like sheep without a shepherd. From the very beginning of creation humans have made bad choices and abused their God given freedom. Through their choices they brought death, pain and suffering into the world and still do today. We do not have the ability to tell good from bad with the clarity of God. Yet many have and still today try to set themselves up as the decision makers of what is good and bad. It is in that spirit of rebellion that death enters the world. We see clearly in the Gospel today that Christ came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We can only have that if we have Christ as our shepherd.
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the good shepherd. He is the Shepherd that lays down his life for his flock. By doing so he gains certain rights over us. He has them naturally as God but he also paid the price we couldn’t pay for our sins. In short we owe him everything. Not some things, not most things, everything. The flock belongs to Christ and to Christ alone.
Jesus Christ did not pay the price for his flock only to leave them once again without a shepherd. In fact one of the very last things he did before he ascended into Heaven was to give the care of his flock over to Peter. Three times he asked Peter if he loved him. Three times Peter replied Yes Lord, I love you. And three time Christ commanded him to feed his sheep. The care of Christ’s flock on earth belongs to his Vicar, to the pope. Many would like to deny this but to try is to deny Christ and the scriptures themselves. Christ promised to build his church on Peter. That means any church not built on Peter is not Christ’s church but one of man made origin. Christ says in the Gospel today “I am the gate for the sheep.” He is the gatekeeper and he opens the gate for the Shepherd. And it is to Peter that he gave the keys to this gate; the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
We see clearly in the book of Acts that the other Apostles deferred to Peter. We know from 2000 years of History that the Pope has been the Universal Shepherd and leader of the Church. From Peter to John Paul II there have been 264 popes in an unending line of succession to the office that Christ established. Very soon we will have the 265th Chief Sheperd.
The authority of the Pope is a gift from God. It is Christ response to looking upon our pitiful condition. He saw that we were sheep without a shepherd. And he begins to teach them. Today he still teaches through his shepherd. He still provides shepherds after his own heart. If we rebel against the teaching authority of the Pope then we rebel against Christ himself because it was Christ who established Peter and his successors as the Shepherds of his flock. We hear clearly in the gospel today that he did so that we might have life and have it to the full. If anyone tries to enter another way than what Christ established they are a thief and robber. They try to steal what does not belong to them in most cases it is a quest for power.
To be a good Christian we must be submissive to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We can not rebel against them. We cannot reject them and still be a good Christian. We cannot disagree with them for to do so is to disagree with God and we do not have the right to do that. We must follow the teaching of Christ and that means following the one that Christ established as our shepherd. It is only by following the Shepherd that we can enter through the gate which is Christ. We cannot reject the teaching of the pope on faith and morals without rejecting Christ himself. Thou art Peter (Cephas in aramaic) and upon this Rock (Cephas) I will build my church. Christ Church was built on Peter and Peter and his successors are it’s shepherds. If we refuse to follow his voice then we are not his sheep.
The gift of a shepherd is a gift meant to bring life. If we accept the gift as Christ gave it and follow after the Shepherds he appoints for us then we can expect to arrive at the pasture he intends for us. If we follow after a different voice, even if that voice is our own opinion, we will end up at a different destination and we will not have life to the full but death, misery and pain.
Please pray for the Cardinals of our Church. They begin the conclave on Monday in which they will identify our next Chief Shepherd. Through intense prayer they will provide us with the Shepherd who teaches in the name of Christ and feeds Christ’s flock. Pray that they will be open and obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and that God will provide us with the voice we need to guide us and lead the Church. In a very short time we will have a new Pope; Christ’s vicar on earth. We thank God for the gift of the Shepherd and we pray that he may lead us well.

Homily – Palm Sunday (Year A)

March 21, 2005

Well it has been a while since I posted a homily. I hate to do it when there are so many typos and I have been too busy to edit them. Here is the Palm Sunday Homily…typos and all.

Homily – Palm Sunday (Year A)

As we enter Holy week we are presented with a rich tradition of scripture that covers the entire period of Salvation history. One method of praying with the scriptures is what is called the Ignatian Method. It is a method in which we imagine ourselves present in the scriptures we are reading. When using this method a person honestly tries to answer the question of who they are most like and who they most identify with. Sometimes an honest reflection can lead us to a conclusion that we don’t like. We might find that the person we are most like isn’t the one we would want to be most like. The fruit of that meditation can then become a source of prayer.
I would encourage you to use the Ignatian method of scripture reading this week so that Holy week might truly be a fruitful experience of death to sin and resurrection to new life. I would hope also that each of us would draw closer to Christ and be more grateful for the great price he paid for our sins and come to know the love he has for us in that he was willing to pay that price.
I would suggest beginning today when you go home with the readings we have just heard. It is only two chapters of the Bible: Matt: 26&27. There are many characters in there to choose from. I would like to point out 5.
The Disciples: The disciples were with Christ in the good times but they did not hang around long for the bad. They walked with Jesus to Jerusalem when he was going as king. As soon as his suffering began in the garden they quickly went to sleep. Jesus asked them to pray one hour with him. Can we find one hour between now and Holy Thursday to pray with the Lord? Will we too abandon him at the hour when we are called to suffer?
The Jewish Leaders: Christ threatened the power of the Jewish leaders. They did not like being challenged for their sinfulness. They did not like the fact that the people responded to Jesus. They called for his death. They saw miracle after miracle and still they refused to believe? Why? They did not want to believe the message so they refused to believe the miracles. Not only did they refuse to believe the miracles but they manufactured lies in order to kill him. When they could not find anything truthful to use against him they went out and found people who were willing to lie. The believed themselves so righteous that they could justify anything. The lied and got others to lie to kill the man that threatened them.
Pontius Pilate: Pilate lacked the gift of fortitude. He was more concerned with what others were thinking about him than the fact that an innocent man would be put to death. His position as governor was threatened by the Jews through rebellion. They threatened to report him to his superiors and he backed down. He clearly did not want to condemn Jesus. But he wasn’t willing to pay the price to do the right thing. So in the end, he pretended that he had nothing to do with it. He washed his hands of the matter putting the blame on someone else. How valuable is our reputation to us? Is it worth more to us than doing what is right?
Judas: Judas betrayed Christ for the love of money. He was the treasurer of the Apostles. At one point shortly before the entrance into Jerusalem he complained because a woman anointed Christ with expensive oil. He argued that it was wasted and that the money could have been given to the poor. He thought that money spent on Christ was wasted. His concern wasn’t truly for the poor but for himself. He wanted to use the money for himself. In the end he would sell his savior for 30 pieces of silver. This happens to be the same price you would pay for a slave. Judas was the slave to money and in the end he loved money more than Christ. If someone loves money more than Christ, they can have all the reasons or excuses they want to fool others and themselves, but in the end as Christ himself said: It would be better that they had not been born.
The Crowd: There is a reason that the people in the pews take the voice of the crowd. Think about the crowd as St Bernard does. They loved him when they thought he would be king. They waved olive branches when they greeted him and praised him loudly. A few days later they would be calling loudly: “Crucify him”. On Palm Sunday they called him King of Israel and on Good Friday they said they had no King but Ceasar. On Palm Sunday they laid down their cloaks for his donkey to walk on. On Good Friday they were stripping him of his clothes and casting lots for it. Are we as fickle when it comes to being a Christian? Were gung ho one day and another day the most deviant of sinners? Are we faithful and steadfast or do we go whatever way the crowd does.
Each of these presents us with much fruit for meditation. There are certainly others. If we are willing to sit and pray the passion with Christ for one hour then the fruit can be great. It might not be easy for before the cross there is no defense. Spend an hour with Christ this week in prayer or go to sleep as the disciples did. What effect this next week has on you is completely up to you. We each will reap what we are now sowing. If we sow in the flesh then we reap a harvest of corruption. If we sow in the spirit the fruits are our death and resurrection into eternal life. The choice is yours. Choose well.

Homily – 4th Sunday of Advent (Year A)

December 21, 2004

Homily – 4th Sunday of Advent (Year A)
“We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience.” These are the words of the Lutheran Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and they speak to an attitude that was growing during his time during WWII and that is even more prevalent in our time. That attitude is that God is there for us and we need to do little other than believe he exists to get to heaven.
This belief is in direct contradiction to our readings today. Our responsorial psalm clearly indicates that we were created for God. All the earth, everything in it, the world, and all who dwell in it belong to the Lord. God isn’t there for us. We are there for God and our response to our creation should be to seek him with all of our heart, mind and strength. Who goes to heaven? Who stands in his holy place? The one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean and who does not desire what is in vain. These are how we should prepare for the coming of the Lord.
At the beginning of Advent I asked you the question “How are you preparing for Christmas?” I showed you in the scriptures that we need to prepare for the Lord by repenting of our sins and going to confession at the very least. We should do other things as well to reflect on the great gift we have been given and to draw closer to the Lord in our spiritual lives. The questions I ask you on this last Sunday of Advent is: “What have you done to prepare for Christmas?” Have you at least gone to confession? If not then why not? Is it because you have no sins you need to repent of? If you believe that then you are in dire trouble because scripture says we all are in need of repentance. John the Baptist has been calling for it throughout our entire Advent season. Is it because you believe that you can confess your sins directly to God and you don’t need to go to a priest? Well then you stand in opposition to the Sacred Scriptures and you reject the infallible teaching of the scriptures and Christ’s Catholic Church. If you reject that authority then you shouldn’t be coming to communion because you are not a Catholic if you reject what the Church teaches. Is it because you haven’t had an opportunity or other things have taken priority? Well I know the opportunity has been there. Even I have been to confession in Advent and I know I go again before Christmas. It is a priority for me. Not because I am holy, because I am a sinner and I know my need to repent to prepare for the Lord.
The Lord is tired of our excuses. We see that in the first reading. Ahaz is commanded by God to ask for a sign. Ahaz refuses out of a false piety. This is actually a form of immense pride. He says he will not tempt the Lord. Yet the Lord just commanded him to do it yet he thinks he is to holy or to righteous to do as the Lord commanded. God ordered him to ask for a sign and the sky literally was the limit. Ahaz refused. Contrast that with Joseph. Who was faced with a situation that would bring about much embarrassment and pain if he was to marry a woman with child. Yet when God’s messenger appears and tells him to do it he did as the angel commanded him and took his wife into his home.
This is what Paul called in the second reading the Obedience of faith. God’s word is enough. Joseph is obedient. Why because his heart is clean and he does not desire what is vain. He seeks the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength. He received a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God his savior. He received the savior himself. He was ready for the first Christmas.
To meet the Lord our hands must be sinless, our hearts clean, and our desire must be for him alone. The good news is there are six days of Advent left. A lot can be done in six days. Entire universes can be created by an all powerful God. Surely he can recreate a single human heart. The only thing he needs is for the heart to repent and to ask. Then we need not fear being the person that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was talking about. The one who takes what is agreeable and pleasant aspects of the Lord’s coming and forgets the serious aspect. God’s drawing near to man is a very serious thing. And for those who have a well formed conscience it is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news. They understand what John has been crying though all of Advent: Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. I pray to God that we all might be a little more like Joseph and a little less like Ahaz. Christmas will truly then be a time of great joy.

Homily – Christ the King Sunday (Year C)

November 20, 2004

Here is the link for the recorded homily.

Christ the King Sunday (Year C)

Here is the text. There are a few typos I corrected on the fly.

Homily – Christ the King Sunday (Year C)
Today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. Before I speak about our readings today I need to reemphasize one of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. That is, that the Sacred Scriptures are the Holy and Infallible word of God. They are not simply a collection of moral writings. They are not simply a historical account of the writings and saying of Jesus, the apostles and the early Church. Their teachings cannot be explained away as a product of another culture and time. They are God breathed and inspired. They are God speaking to us yesterday, today and forever. They come straight from God through his Apostles, but because they are inspired by the Holy Spirit there is no error in their transmission or recording. They are the infallible word of God. With that infallibility come authority. They speak with the authority of God because they are God’s words to us. You cannot be a Christian if you don’t believe this. Someone might call themselves a Christian but they are not. To be a Christian requires we believe in the inspiration, infallibility and authority of God’s word.
Believing in the inspiration, infallibility and authority of God’s word we turn to those words for us today. The second reading, in particular, gives us a very good catechesis or teaching on the nature, authority and kingship of Jesus Christ. Speaking of God the Father it tells us: “He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” There are two kingdoms. One is the kingdom of darkness and one is the Kingdom of Christ his beloved Son. We belong to one of the two kingdoms. All of us, by virtue of original sin, were members of the Kingdom of darkness. Because Christ died for our sins and empowered the waters of Baptism, we can be freed from this Kingdom. We now have the possibility of living in the Kingdom of Christ if we choose. Not because of what we do, but because of what Christ did. But it is a Kingdom with a King and if we choose to reject the authority of that King then we choose to live in the Kingdom of Darkness.
God tells us more: “For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him.” Notice the word All. Often times in modern minds there is a reflexive action to change that word to some. But here all means all. Every single one. All things in Heaven, all the orders of angels: thrones, dominions, etc.; and all things on earth, whether we can see it or not were created through him and for him. Most people don’t forget the first one, that we were created to him. But Satan intends that we forget the second. We were created for him. You see that is the what caused Satan to rebel. He wanted to be for himself. He wanted to be created for his will, not the will of another. He wanted to be king and not the servant. But that doesn’t change reality. The reality is we, each and everyone of us, whether we accept it or not were created for someone. We were created for Christ. He is the King of the Kingdom of Light. We were created to be his subjects. If we refuse, then we choose another Kingdom, with another ruler. That is the kingdom of darkness.
To be in the Kingdom of light means we accept him as our ruler. Not just in some things. He rules over all. As Scripture says “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent.” There is that word All again. He is to be first in all things. He is to be first in all areas of our life. We can’t change that word to some areas of our life. God’s infallible, authoritative, holy word says he is first in all. If we refuse then we choose another ruler. Christ must be our first priority, in every area of our life, if he is to be our king and we wish to live in his kingdom. Not in some areas. In every area.
But having Christ as your king does not mean you will be what we think of as a slave. That our existence will be miserable. It means exactly the opposite. How do we know? God’s holy, authoritative word, free from all error, tells us so: For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.” With Christ comes fullness. Without him there is an emptiness in the core of our being. We weren’t created to suffer eternal hunger. We were created for the fullness of life. That we might have life and have it to the full as it says in John 10:10. Christ Kingdom is where we find that fullness. Submitting to him is to submit not to a hard rule but to submit to happiness. If God wants what is best for us and wants us to be perfectly happy then we have the same goal. The problem is when we work against God’s will. That is what brings us emptiness and pain. So much does Christ want our happiness and fulfillment that he was willing to die to give it to us. Not just any death but a brutal and horrific one. What parent wouldn’t give their life for their child. God gave his son for us. That is the kind of Kingdom he has established. Christ said he came not to be served but to serve. Accepting the Kingship of Christ in our life is to not to take the role of a demeaned servant. It is to become a son and daughter of a great king. That is what we were intended for. Christ will do, and has done, whatever was necessary to make that a possibility. But he wont’ inflict it upon us violently. He doesn’t expand his kingdom through violence, he does it through love. We do have free will. We can say no. But in the end we will be a member of a kingdom. Whether it is the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light is up to us.
We make that choice by acknowledge Christ is our King like the Good thief in the Gospel. This isn’t an intellectual exercise. We don’t just agree. If we did that we would be like the other thief. He was arrogant. He demanded things before he would submit. If you are this then give me this. The good thief recognized his place. He was the first human to acknowledge Christ as King and to understand what he was king of. He chastises the other thief: “Have you no fear of God”. He recognized Christ as God and as King of the world to come. He submits himself mind, body and will. He recognizes he was created for Christ and gives himself completely to him. He asks to be remembered. Christ, so moved with love by the thief’s repentance and humility tells him today the promise would be fulfilled. Today he would be with him in paradise.
For that is the reason Christ came into the world. So that all things might be reconciled to him. The only thing he can’t reconcile is the person who refuses it. We accept Christ as our king or we establish ourselves as the king of our lives. To accept Christ is to accept the fullness for which we were created. It is to allow him to rule our lives; every area of our lives. Our minds, bodies, and wills. If we choose to have a single part of ourselves or our lives not under the authority of Christ then he allows us to have what we ask for. We abandon the kingdom of light and choose the kingdom of darkness. I don’t think most of us want that, yet many people today are like the bad thief. They have no fear of God. They do not fear offending him because they have been told they can’t. They do not fear being parted from him because they do not think it is possible. Hell for them doesn’t exist. They have no fear of God. We need to have the fear of the Lord. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the beginning of Wisdom. It keeps us humble. It allows us to submit to the Kingship of Christ. It leads us to salvation like it did the good thief.
Accepting Christ rule isn’t to accept the position of servant. It is to accept divine sonship. It is to accept the friendship of Christ. He says in John 15: I no longer call you servants, I call you friends. Then Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend. Christ did so for us. The question is are we willing to lay down our lives for him. Are we willing to give ourselves to him unconditionally, in humility like the good thief. Christ is the King. The question is do we belong to his kingdom and put him first and let him rule every area of our lives? That is to accept membership in the Kingdom of Christ. If we try to change the word all to some. We put him first some of the time, we let him rule some area of our lives then we go against scripture. God’s holy, authoritative and infallible word says all. That leads to the kingdom darkness. Darkness or light; Some or all; Christ as king or us as king. We get what we ask for. The choice is yours. Choose well.

Homily – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

October 31, 2004

Homily – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
I am a pickup man. I won’t say whether I am a Ford, Chevy, or Dodge man because I wouldn’t want to alienate anyone for the rest of the homily. I love pickup’s. The only reason I don’t drive one is that I know that Texans, Pickups and snow don’t mix very well. But I have hopes of one day learning to drive one even in the snow so I can return to the trucks I love.
One thing I always joke about when I talk about owning trucks is that you never have a shortage of friends. While I owned my truck I would often get calls from “friends” to use it to move things. The phone would ring and it would be someone I hadn’t heard from in quite a while. After the obligatory chit chat I would hear the often repeated phrase “So were moving this weekend…” or “we just bought a ” do you think we can borrow your truck. Often times, being that I am a big guy they would extend the invitation to me to help them move as well.
Now I never once refused to help out my “friends” if I could help them. But I often did wonder about some of them. The only time I did hear from them seemed to be when something needed to be moved or they were in need of a truck. But one thing for sure is…. If you own a truck, you don’t have to wait terribly long periods of time for the phone to ring.
I think sometimes people treat God like he is a truck owner. They call him when they need him and not too many other times. Invariably he gets the prayer call, so God, how’s it going, I really need to talk to you more often but things get so busy, by the way can I get you to help me with ___________. Prayer time isn’t the priority it should be for us and we end up being poor “friends” to God. Our relationship is one of convenience rather than one of love. You know love right? Remember the first time you fell in love. You couldn’t wait to see your beloved, you would talk with them hours on end, you couldn’t wait to read that love letter that you saved and read over and over again, you would do anything to see them and it was agony if you couldn’t. Now granted that isn’t a mature love but you remember the feelings.
But mature love isn’t what many couples now a days experience either, long periods of no talking, being with the person is a burden or a nag, the spark has dimmed to a barely discernable glow. That isn’t love either.
I have had the privilege of seeing mature love in couples and it is pretty spectacular. It is what I would have hoped for if God had called me to marriage. A couple that enjoys being with each other, spending time in their presence. They still delight at their quiet times together. They too saved their love letters and still read them. It is a sacrificial love that has caused them to die to their own selfish desires for their beloved. I hope you have seen it as well. That is what we need to be shooting for in our relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Our readings today exhort us to perseverance in prayer and faithfulness in our relationship with God. The first reading clearly shows that we need God’s help to win the spiritual battle we fight on this earth. It also shows we need our friends and loved ones to help us, encourage us, and support us in staying faithful to our relationship with God. Our help is in the name of the Lord as the responsorial psalm is. But if our relationship isn’t more then we are simply using God for his truck or what he can give us.
Our second reading exhorts us to fidelity and faithfulness to God and especially faithfulness to the scriptures. I think one of the most terrible pains a person could experience is the infidelity of their spouse. I can’t imagine going through that and, as a priest, I have seen the terrible hurt it can cause. By virtue of our baptism we members of the Church, and the Church is the bride of Christ. How faithful are we to our Bridegroom Jesus Christ? What kind of marriage do we have with our spouse? Is it one that burns quickly only to fade to tediousness like the examples I mentioned above? Or is it one that is spectacular, where we love to spend time with our spouse, where sacrifice our own selfish desires for the betterment of the relationship and our beloved, where we still take delight in reading the love letters written to us long ago?
Our spouse is Jesus Christ and we are married to him by virtue of our baptism and that will never change. Only the way we view the marriage will change. Many people today have the mistaken notion that they will go to heaven no matter what because God will forgive them for anything, any infidelity they commit against their bridegroom. That is a serious error. If a priest or Catechism teacher ever taught you all people go to heaven they are wrong and I am sorry. Some people will go to hell. Why? Not because God stops loving them, but, because they stop loving God. Their marriage becomes tedious, nagging. They don’t like to spend time with their spouse Jesus Christ. Church becomes a burden. Being faithful to the Church becomes a burden, we want to do what we want and when we want it and our spouse doesn’t have any say. Prayer becomes a burden only to be used when we need something. Or we are constantly unfaithful to our bridegroom by sinning and never saying were sorry. No one would want to be stuck in that kind of marriage with that kind of spouse. And some of us ask for a divorce and those are the ones that go to hell. They think not being married looks better and they choose what C.S. Lewis called the great divorce. I encourage you to read that book if you never have.
We need to nurture our relationship with God daily through prayer and the reading of scripture. God wrote us many love letters long ago that still have relevance in our life. The second reading tells us they are useful for many things but we need them to be competent and equipped for good works. Not just anyone but one who belongs to God needs them. How many people in here have read the Bible? How many at least could honestly say they read the whole New Testament. If you haven’t then I would ask what are you waiting for? Is it too tedious? Do you not want to see what God wrote to you? Do you only listen to your spouse when you have to at Mass on Sunday’s? When is the last time you actually opened the Bible and read from it? Do you have one in your house? Do you know where it is? Does it have dust on it? Or is the does the spine barely have a crease in it? The Catholic Church teaches that Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. You can’t love say you have a good marriage if you are ignorant of Christ. If you never speak to him. If you aren’t faithful to him and if you don’t read the letters that he died, literally died, to give you.
Prayer and scripture are the way we develop a solid, spectacular, love relationship with Christ. One thing I have learned as a priest, is that you really need to fight for them and as the second reading say be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Something will always come up that seems more immediate. But no thing will come up in your life that is more important. If we neglect reading scripture on our
In the end we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and our “marriage to him will be judged”. Some will seek a divorce. If you don’t love God here you won’t love him when you die. If you find the things of God a burden here then you won’t change your mind when you die. We need to love Christ here and now. We need to love spending time with him in prayer and reading God’s word. We need to fight for those times whether convenient or inconvenient. We need to sacrifice our own selfish desires for the betterment of the relationship. We need to do these things daily if we want to have a successful marriage to our bridegroom.
The good news is our bridegroom is always faithful to us and will forgive us if we choose to be faithful to the marriage. He will not abandon the marriage or seek to divorce us. No matter what has happened in the past we can always choose to be faithful. We can fall in love again. But we need to work at the marriage every single day if we want it to last. If we do not then it will end in divorce. What we choose now, every day of our lives, is what we will choose on our judgment day. A good marriage or a Divorce from our spouse. The choice is yours. Choose well.

Cup of Soup

October 16, 2004

A 64oz plastic cup from the convenience store and 26oz can of soup (add one can of water = 52oz), gives the expression Cup O Soup a whole new meaning.

I love to eat Soup from a Plastic cup. It is easily washed and you don’t have to wash a spoon (I don’t have a dishwasher).

You have to be careful when eating the Chunky Soups though. When you get close to the bottom you need to tilt very slowly, otherwise the delicate gravity/inertia balance will be upset for the glop at the bottom, and then you need to wash clothes. (I do have a washing machine though).

Homily – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

October 14, 2004

Homily – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

The readings for the last few weeks have been speaking about faith. Saving faith as we see in the Gospel is more than merely believing in something. 10 of the lepers in the Gospel believed that Christ could heal them. Only one returned glorifying God and thanking him. And it was to that one that Jesus says your faith has saved you. A saving faith is one which causes us to respond to the person of Jesus Christ. It is one that causes us to return to him again and again in thanksgiving and praise. It is not merely coming to Mass on Sunday and punching the clock to guarantee you a spot in heaven. Faith is more than that.
True faith is faith in a person. I have mentioned this over and over again. It is faith in the person of Jesus Christ. One of the biggest differences between Protestants and Catholics centers around how we are saved. Protestants believe that we are saved by faith alone. That is what Luther called sola fide. Catholics believe it is more complex that that. We believe that a saving faith is one that transforms ones life completely. Like the lepers today in the Gospel 10 had faith Jesus could heal them but it only changed one of their lives. That was the one that was saved. We know that true faith in our life must bear fruit in our lives. The tree is our faith, the fruit is our works. You will know a tree by its fruit. Even in Paul’s Letter to James it says faith without works is dead. Even the demons believe that Christ is the son of God. They recognized it before the apostles did. But it couldn’t save them. Why? Intellectual belief is not enough. You can’t just agree that Jesus is the Son of God and expect that to get you to heaven. If we just go to Jesus for the things we want or so we can get to heaven then we are like the 9 lepers in the gospel. We are merely looking to get something we want. That is an ungrateful heart. A truly grateful heart is one that changes our lives and the way we live. It is one that acknowledge God as Lord and transforms our lives. It is one that makes us return to him glorifying him for the work he has done in our lives. It is one that makes us fall on our knees in gratitude. Not just on Sunday’s when everybody else kneels. It is a gratitude that moves our hearts during the week to praise God and thank him for the good in our lives. It is a gratitude that shows itself when we are faced with suffering. We thank God for what he has done in our lives and we thank him for even the things that cause us pain because our faith tells us that even in those moments that hurt so badly, God’s hand is moving. He will not give us anything we can’t bear. That is his promise. We thank God for the grace he gives us go get through it.
Gratitude is the one response that is appropriate in all things. Scripture says: In all things give thanks. But how many people are truly grateful? I would say the Gospel example is pretty reflective as well as the collection plate on Sunday’s in most Church’s. We give God what is left over. I heard just this week about a parish that was complaining because they have a priest from India and he has an accent. They aren’t thankful that a priest left his country, his family, his friends and came thousands of miles so they could have a priest in their parish. They complained about his accent. That is a sure sign of a selfish and ungrateful heart. I could give you many examples but I don’t think I have to point them out. You read Galatians Chapter 5 and you will see the war between the flesh and the spirit. You know the people who complain about petty things, gossip when don’t like something, and are critical and negative most of the time. That is a sure sign of an ungrateful heart. It is not a heart that embraces the person of Jesus Christ. It is one that seeks to get what they want from religion rather than praising God for what they have been given.
Ingratitude is at the heart of every sin. Lucifer was ungrateful that he wasn’t God and he rebelled and became consumed by hate. Adam and Eve were given the Garden of Eden and could eat from any tree except one. Were they thankful for what they had been given? No, they allowed Satan to speak his lies in their heart; Not gratitude for all they had been given but rather they focused on the one thing that they were not. And their ingratitude led them to rebel. How dare God say I can’t do that. And they reached out and took it and all hell broke loose.
We are not so very different. For all we have been given, that vast majority of us spend little time in prayers of thanksgiving and most of our time complaining. We are not thankful for what we have been given but angry about what we don’t have. How can I say this? Because all of us are sinners. At the heart of every sin is an ungrateful heart. Conversely a heart full of gratitude has little room for rebellion. If we were to spend more time in thanksgiving and less time complaining we would be a lot better off. Most of us look to Christ for what he can give us. That is not love. That is using someone. Love looks to what it can give to the other. Christ has to be someone we truly love. Someone we need to seek out daily. Someone we ache to see daily. Someone we cannot live without. Someone we are thankful to spend time with. If he isn’t then we deny him like the lepers did. We seek to use him and not love him. The consequences of that are clear. But if we deny him he will deny us. A saving faith in Jesus Christ is one that transforms our life, makes us return to him on our knees, glorifying and praising him for what he has done. Well, Father, he didn’t save me from leprosy. No what he did was far greater. He saved you from eternal death if you are willing to allow him to change your life. Listen to Isaiah 53:
Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, A grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood.
(But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.) If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.
By his stripes we were healed. The question left for each of us is what kind of leper are we? Are we with the 9 that walk away? Or are we the one who fall on our knees in gratitude and change our lives?