Sunday, October 24, 2010

Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Link to Mass Readings:

“O my God, I am so sorry for having offended you,
And I hate all my sins, because of Your just punishments,
But most of all because they offend You, my God,
Who are all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace,
To sin no more and avoid all near occasion of sin.”

Asking forgiveness for our sins is so cathartic. There is a reason while Jesus told us to confess to one another; we can ask forgiveness in our hearts, and pray for it out loud, but there is something in the way we communicate our own sinfulness to another person that is such a release. Saying our sins to someone else makes them real, and leaves you transparent, with no more secrets to hold. Not that anyone else but God forgives sins, but God in His wisdom knew that that we need each other, that any sacrament of the Church, any visible manifestation of God’s grace in the world, must also include the communion of saints. God sent his disciples out two by two to preach the Gospel, and the Church has been together ever since in every moment of our lives.

The readings today are about the joys and responsibilities of forgiveness. Though both Elisha and Jesus cure physical sickness, disease is always associated with sin in the Scripture. When Naaman is cured of his leprosy, he rejoices in God, who he recognizes by His power. He wants to give a gift to Elisha, but Elisha will not take credit for God’s power. For all glory, and all honor is for the Lord; Naaman realizes this, and takes the earth to always be in Israel the land of the one, true God.

Of the ten lepers, however, only one returns to offer God praise. Jesus sent them to the priests to be examined, that they might be let back into society. But only one remembers that it is not the priests, but God, who is the one to be remembered. Though God in each case uses people for healing and forgiveness, the lesson is that to Him alone is honor due.

As members of the Church we can forget God sometimes. We remember the rituals, and the motions, but lose God in the routine. Always, and unceasingly we must praise God. He has done wondrous deeds, and his right hand has won victory for him. And for us, He has won a victory over death that we share. Hallelujah!

We have forgiveness because we fall. We forget what Jesus taught us, what Paul reminds us: that “If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him.” When we sin, when we deny him, we forfeit our salvation. But even when we are unfaithful Jesus is faithful, because he cannot deny himself who lives within us.

Jesus is in our hearts and walks beside us in victory. Let not sadness, nor anger turn us aside, nor lust or jealousy. But God may we be yours, remember you before us always, to sin no more and avoid all near occasion of sin. Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Link to Mass Readings:

How long, O Lord, how must we cry for help and you not listen? How long must we suffer the abuse of children in the Church? How long must we stand by and watch our soldiers kill in the name freedom? How long must we persecute, slander, and shame our Christians into hiding the Gospel from those waiting to hear it? How long must we wait while Your Word is twisted into hateful things…

Oh God, how long?

It is hard to cry out for help, to ask for more faith to help us endure, only to hear Jesus say: “When you have done all you have been commanded, say ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” Like a slap in the face, we feel that God makes light of us, the parent who doesn’t understand and says “It’s not that bad.” This is the God of Mercy and of Love! If we cannot grieve to God, who can we grieve to?

“Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.”

Endure. Though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning. Christ told us, that if the world hated him, it would hate us as well. Pray hard for faith, and hold onto it. Because our God really is the God of mercy and love, and are souls are kept safe with Him. We are tempted so strongly by the Devil to disbelieve in the victory Jesus brought us, but we must hold fast to our faith, our evidence of things unseen. And sometimes unfelt.

The parable of the servant who is required to do more work is an example of our purification under suffering. The world will not let it be easy for us to love Jesus. It will be hard, and God’s kingdom will demand everything of us to be brought about. Like the servant who must work when he is tired, or iron which must be beaten many times in the forge, to be God’s we must be His past all reason.

But past all reason is God. We who have been tested and tempered time and again but cling to God have faith strengthened more deeply than we could have known. We are the ones who make converts, whose faith like Abraham’s is the realization of a victory unseen, but felt powerfully. How long must we suffer, O God how long? More than we can bear, until only God is left.

“Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.” We may suffer, but we do not suffer alone. We are in pain, and Jesus on the cross stands in solidarity with us. Endure, with all the faith you have and the strength of God behind you, the One who is and ever shall be, the I AM. Victory will come, it has its time, it presses on to fulfillment and will not disappoint. Endure with God.