Sermon preached on Ash Wednesday 2017
Commentary on the the second part of the Epistle for the day (1 Cor. 9:24-27; 10:1-5): “For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food, And all drank the same spiritual drink; (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.) But with most of them God was not well pleased.”
If you want to know how you are doing spiritually, you can ask yourself these simple questions:
- Do I find Mass boring or interesting?
- Do I find it easy to pray or hard to pray?
- Do I speak to Jesus easily after Communion or is it difficult to speak to him?
- Am I better at praying than I was when I was younger, or am I worse?
That will tell you what you are, and what direction you’re going.
[Please note: there’s a small glitch in the audio at 0:38]
We find the word “watch” used by our Lord many times:
- And he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch. (Mk 14:34)
- And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping. And he saith to Peter: Simon, sleepest thou? couldst thou not watch one hour? Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Mk 14:37:38)
- Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away. But of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray. For ye know not when the time is.” (Mk 13: 31-33)
But what exactly does Jesus mean by this word “watch”?
In the Gospel of the wedding Mass (Matthew 19:3-6), we read the words that Jesus said about marriage. It happened on an occasion, when the Pharisees, his perpetual combatants, wanted to put him to the test. And so they asked him about something that is always a point of disagreement in every culture that starts to drift away from God. That is, they asked him about divorce. And so Jesus takes the opportunity to explain what marriage really is, going back to the book of Genesis to the story of Adam and Eve, our first parents (Gen 2:24). There we find God saying, “For this reason, a man will leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be in one flesh.” Jesus quotes those words, and then explains what they mean, “Therefore they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.”
Commentary on the Gospel for the Resumed 5th Sunday after Epiphany (Matthew 13:24-30) – The man who sows the good seed is the son of man, that is, Jesus Christ, and the field is the world. The good seed are the children of the kingdom, and the bad seed are the children, as our Lord says, of the wicked one. And the enemy that sows the evil seed is the devil, and the reapers who gather up the cockle to burn them, and the wheat for the harvest, those reapers are actually the angels.
Christ is our King and therefore he is our leader in all things, both spiritual and temporal. We can take the sweet yolk of Christ and free ourselves from the problems that drag down families and even whole countries. We’ll start with an example of how Christ can liberate a country from the wickedness of sin using as an example the sin of usury, defined in the Old Testament as the taking of interest on a loan of money.
Mary has helped many Christians by her powerful intercession during times of military attack or military danger and by her strength of the faith of Christians. In our personal lives, what the rosary has done in a big way can be done in a small way. The rosary, we must remember, is a prayer, and it can do a great deal if we pray it. But it will do very little if you just say it. You have to give God the best time, the best place, the best posture.
One of the worst effects of original sin is the turning of human beings against one another. The most common type of violence against one another are things we say. Sins of speech against one another are a terrible problem. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we find that a person is guilty of a particular sin of the tongue called calumny when he says something “contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.” (CCC #277)
We have to acknowledge that the internet is a much more powerful force than television. It can be used by anyone on a number of devices, for anything at all. It is much more flexible than TV. It also has an enormous amount of smut available, much more than TV. It was foolish optimism that got us into trouble with TV. And yet it was precisely the television set that swept away the Christian culture in the West.
It is important that we are not naive about the internet as we were naive about the television set. 90% of young people, beginning at age 8 up to age 17 have already seen pornography, mostly while doing homework, or at least that is what they said they were doing.
Sermon based on the parable of the Good Samaritan (Twelfth Week after Pentecost, Luke 10:23-37) – Love of God and love of neighbor are the two great commandments. St. John the Beloved goes even further in (1 John 4), saying “If any man say, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for how can he that loves not his brother whom he sees, love God whom he does not see? And this commandment we have from God, that he who loves God, love also his brother.” It is a very great offense to God, who is the common father of every human being, that His children here on earth should hate one another based on anything like race or color. And yet we see, here in the United States, a resurfacing of the kinds of tensions which we had back in the 60’s. It’s an unnecessary, artificial resurfacing of this old hatred. Hatred, based on race or any other thing, is completely contrary to the Gospel of the Lord. Go contrary to the direction who are trying to benefit from racial hatred or other hatreds, or even trying to make it worse.