A Word #151| 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time| June 25, 2017
Jun 22, 2017
Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.
I would hope that most of us are attentive to warnings especially when they come from professionals. Warnings are part of daily life. Whether it’s the warning we receive from our physicians and pharmacists regarding a medication we have been prescribed, from our law and safety personnel regarding hazardous conditions on the road or at home, or even from our parents and supervisors. It would be foolish for us to believe that every thing is fine and dandy. Only a fool would believe that something doesn’t have consequences or a danger attached to them. Warnings are just a part of life. We need to be aware of the pitfalls and obstacles that we may encounter as we go about our day. If they are good for a bottle of medication or at the side of the road, they are surely important in our life of faith.
The readings this Sunday give a kind of warning to what it means to be a disciple. Like anything in life, there are hazards and dangers we must be aware of before we undertake this journey of faith. Jesus would be committing malpractice if He didn’t warn us of what it will entail for us as we follow Him in this life to the life to come. Unfortunately, and I hope it is not at all surprising, the Christian life is not easy, nor should it be. Regrettably there are many within our Christian faith who want to suggest or sell a false notion of Christianity. As you have heard me say on numerous occasions, Christianity is not a feel- good religion. Yes there are countless moments of joy and good feelings, yet we ought to never forget that there are forces out there that want to sideswipe us or distract us from reaching the goal that Jesus selflessly purchased for us through His Paschal Mystery. I would like to briefly mention three warnings or dangers that may impede on our Christian pilgrimage.
First is the Devil. Too often the devil is downgraded or minimized as myth or a lie. But that is what Satan wants us to believe. The Devil before all else is a liar. The lie that he has infected the world with is that he and his army of fallen angels doesn’t exist. We must accept this tenant of our faith. There is an Evil One and the Devil will not stop until he sees that we turn our back on the One he turned his back on at the foundation of Creation. Simply, the sin of Satan is pride and disobedience. We must avoid any thought that would suggest that the Devil is a figment of man’s imagination. Don’t forget the Lord Jesus spoke to Satan during His time in the desert. Through His faith in His Heavenly Father, He sent the Devil packing and resisted his lies. We need to do the same. We need to do everything in our power with the aid of Heavenly grace and prayer to ward off the lies of the Devil-stop listening to him! Banish him from his evil persuasions. Learn to say the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel or invoke the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary!
Second is the world. Especially here in Oregon we live in a society that is anti-everything especially faith. We live among good people who believe they have no need of a personal relationship with God or with a community of believers. They easily accept that they can worship some God in the quiet of their homes or places. They have no need for a relationship with God or other human beings in their quest for salvation. Again this is a lie, it is a lie of the world and a lie of the Devil. We need a personal relationship with God in the context of a community of believers, the Church. The Church is less of a building or institution, but we who gather each day for the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Christian life. Regrettably too many Catholics often profess such an absurdity. The Church is not telling you to come to Holy Mass but rather to God. It is where He feeds us through the Word and through the Body and Blood of His Divine Son and where we fortify each other in this journey of faith.
Finally, it is us. We often, as I know it is true with me that we are our own worse enemy. Not only is the Devil and the world telling us lies, we also lie to ourselves. We often fall into a vicious circle of resentment, anger, self-pity, or destructive behaviors. We all know well what such thoughts, feelings, and actions can inflict upon us. We are better than this. Through the waters of Baptism we have been redeemed, yet we are still capable of doing awful things to others, and ourselves nevertheless, we have the power available to avoid such sins. Sometimes we often convince ourselves or others that we are no good or that we are beyond help. Remember who Jesus visited again and again during His public ministry. Not the perfect or the holier than thous but rather the imperfect, the scum of the earth, in other words: sinners. You and I fit in this category. Jesus did not come for the perfect nor is the Church a country club of the perfect, Jesus established His Church as a field hospital for sinners on the journey towards heaven. There is nothing that you or I could have said or done that would bar us from entering into the doors of His Church, His Body here on earth. Lastly, we as members of His Body need to treat each other better. We need to forgive and lift each other up through prayer, a kind deed, and a smile. If only churchgoers would actually become men and women of God imagine the difference we would make in our society.
Our Una Familia here at St. Anthony of Padua needs to be aware of the warnings and dangers as we journey together. Let us take heed to the voice of the Shepherd who comes to us in Word and Eucharist to guide us in becoming who we were created to be: true and holy sons and daughters of God. Our work together is to sanctify the world, but it first begins here. Let us pray for each other’s holiness and assist with good works in building up His Body the Church in our little corner of the world.
Yours in Christ,