Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 10:29 AM
The link to Bishop Caggiano's Statement on Abuse Crisis is posted below. Join us for the Rosary Rally of Prayer for the Conversion of America on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at Noon on the lawn.

10/01/17 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

It is common in today's world to find Catholics who openly disagree with core Catholic teaching.

We all know people who say that they are Catholic, but who don't come to Mass on Sunday - they only come on Christmas and Easter, if they come at all.

We all have heard or read about politicians who say that they are ardent and practicing Catholics, but who publicly support laws that go directly against some of the most basic tenets of morality as taught by the Catholic Church.

And if we are honest with ourselves, we even recognize in our own lives this same tendency. We call ourselves practicing Catholics, and yet we spend more time working on our favorite hobbies than on our prayer life, and we spend more time becoming an expert in our profession than in our faith, and we tolerate in our own lives hidden habits of selfishness and sin while we criticize other people for their more visible faults.

If we think about it a little bit, we see very clearly that this contradiction between what we believe and how we live is not a good thing. It is like the second son in today's parable. He impressed his dad with fancy words and a good show of healthy obedience, but underneath the surface he was still living for his own self-centered gratification, not for the greater good of his mission in the Father's kingdom.

When we fall into that contradiction, it is no wonder that we don't grow in our experience of Christ's love and grace, and it is no wonder that we don't grow in wisdominterior peace, and the deep Christian joy that we thirst for. Faith, if it's real, makes a real impact on our lives. When it doesn't, our spiritual growth is stunted.

St James expressed this bluntly in his New Testament Letter: "For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). 

The harmony between words and deeds, appearance and reality, is so important for Christ that he built it right into the very fiber of Christianity. All the sacraments, the source of God's grace for the Church, have two elementsform and matter. The form is the words that explain the meaning; the matter is the material that is transformed into a channel of grace by those words. If you have just the matter or just the form, you have no sacrament; you need both. So, if a priest says the words, "this is my body, this is blood" over a piece of pizza and a glass of orange juicenothing happens. But when he pronounces those words of consecration over the unleavened bread and the wine mixed with water during Mass, Christ becomes truly present in the Eucharist. Likewise, if a penitent goes to confession and receives absolution, but then purposely refuses to fulfill his penance, his is not freed from his sin. That would be hypocritical - saying he is repentant, but not really being repentant. The Church's process of canonization shows the same focus on integrity. Hundreds of people may testify that someone was truly holy and a model of heroic Christian virtue, but unless the intercession of the saint-to-be brings about a miracle, there can be no canonization.

If we come to Mass on Sunday and say all the right prayers, but then we go to work or school on Monday and make no effort to live as Christ would have us, nothing happens in our souls - our lives don't bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, because we are hypocrites.

Real faith requires real action.

This honest look at our tendency to be hypocritical, like the second son in today's parable, can make us feel discouraged. But discouragement never comes from God, because he never gives up on us. When we see that our sinfulness, selfishness, and unchristian habits, don't seem to go away no matter how hard we try to overcome them, we have a tendency to give up on ourselves. And when we see the same things in other people, we tend to give up on them too.

But giving up on ourselves and others is not a sign of humility; it's a sign of arrogance.

It's a sign that we have discovered the limits of our natural strength, but we are too arrogant to seek help from the limitlessness of God's supernatural strength. If God can raise Jesus from the dead, he can change our selfish, sinful ways. As today's Psalm reminds us, God is our "Savior," he is full of "mercies," he "shows sinners the way," and "teaches the humble his way." He will strengthen us with his own strength, if we come frequently to him in the Eucharist. He will pour his healing mercy into our souls, if we open them up to receive it by going to confession. He will enlighten our confusion with his wisdom, if we spend time each day reading our Bibles and praying.

Today Jesus is inviting us to renew our hope in the power of his grace.

When we receive him into our hearts at Holy Communion, let's do so

Let's tell him we will never again give up on ourselves or others, because we hope in him.

And this week, let's take as our motto the brilliant phrase from St Paul's Letter to the Philippians: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

 

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