Saturday, February 12, 2011

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues with the Beatitudes by teaching us more very strong lessons on how we must live our lives

Sixth Week in Ordinary Time. February 13th, 2010

Two weeks ago we heard Jesus’ incredible teaching know as the Sermon of the Mount. In these teachings Jesus tells us what we must do, how we must live, what our hearts and mind must be like if we are going to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Last week, Jesus said we must live the Beatitudes not only so we can make it to heaven but also so that we can help our neighbor, that is our family members, parish family members, our friend’s coworkers, and even strangers and our enemies make it to heaven. Charity dictates, “Either we seek the salvation of others or we will not be saved ourselves.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues with the Beatitudes by teaching us more very strong lessons on how we must live our lives; and even more deeply, what must be in our minds and our hearts if we are to truly live the beatitudes and not merely give God lip service. Jesus today is reminding us that the Beatitudes are not suggestions, they are commands, commands that must be follow if we are to fulfill the great Commandment of Love, loving God above all things and our neighbor as our self for love of God.

And so the commandments that Jesus gives us today are linked to the Beatitudes, they are more details in the living of the Beatitudes. Let’s look at the connection between the Beatitudes and the commandments of Jesus in today’s Gospel:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This poverty goes far beyond merely living simply or doing with out, it extends even to living spiritually without an eye or a hand if either “causes you to sin.” Poverty of spirit requires a radical detachment from anything that would send us to hell and keep us from the paradise of heaven. And poverty requires a radical detachment from anything that would prevent us from being solicitous in helping our neighbor do the same.

“Blessed are they who mourn.” Among the sorrowing, are those who suffer from other people’s sins. Being injured by our brother, and the resulting experience of mourning that results, cannot lead us to hate but to forgiveness. When our brother injures us we must initiate the reconciliation between us if we are to bring our offering to the altar. If we forgive them, then with this act of self-emptying comes the grace to be able to worship worthily the God who will forgive us only to the extent we forgive others.

“Blessed are the meek.” Those who are truly the meek, are those lowly enough to put aside their own ideas and opinions in order to accept humbly the commandants of God in all of their fullness. The meek accept the truth that comes from God and is revealed to us through the teachings of His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and her Magisterium. Those who accept the teaching of the Church, and strive to live them with the grace of the Sacraments, are “called the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” These are those who have no duplicity of life. They aren’t Catholic in name only. They again strive to live their life according to the Creed they profess. These are those who hunger and thirst for holiness and so strive to live integrity of life. Their yes, means yes and their no means no. We must believe what we read in the Gospel, we must proclaim it to others, and we must live what we proclaim. Anything else is from the evil one

“Blessed are the merciful.” How easy it is to not be merciful and to let our anger overcome us, to control our life. Yet, if we become angry with our brothers and sisters we become “liable to judgment,” the judgment in which we can expect the same lack of mercy from God that we showed to others. If we call another, “you fool,” we will become the fool instead. However, if we are merciful, we will receive the Mercy of the Father-Jesus, who is the Divine Mercy of the Father.

“Blessed are the clean of heart.” The pure of heart are those who realize that sin begins in the heart and so realize that adultery and impurity begins in one’s heart. As a result they realize the importance of guarding our heart. Only the clean of heart shall see God and the things of God; only the clean of heart shall see things the way God sees them, other words the way things really are; only the pure of heart will see their neighbor as another Christ and not as an object for self-gratification. But being pure of heart also causes others to see Christ and his love in us.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” Peacemakers will go to any lengths in order to settle things quickly with their opponents. They don’t hold grudges; they don’t seek to settle the score. They are truly children of God at peace with Him for they are at peace with one another.

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.” This includes those who stand up for that which is Good, True and Beautiful, those who teach the commandments and teachings of God and his truth with a righteousness that surpasses the Scribes and the Pharisees, that is that surpasses the self-righteous. And, “Blessed are you when they insult you and…utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.” If us Catholic Christians refuse to take false oaths; if we refuse to give into that spirit of the world that opposes God and His Catholic Church; if we accept the truth even if no else does and refuse to accept lies if every else does; if we by our holiness of life show that right is right even if no one is doing it and wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it, then we can expect, for sure, to be vilified by the world, a world which is utterly threatened by anyone who lives a life of uncompromising integrity without a shred of care for what anyone else thinks, save for God the Almighty. Thus persecuted however, we should rejoice for our reward will be great in heaven.

In order to receive the grace and love we need to live the Beatitudes and experience what they promise we must believe, adore, hope and love, and pray for other to believe, adore, hope and love the Teacher of the Beatitudes in the Holy Eucharist the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. The Holy Eucharist is the very source of the Beatitudes; the very source of Heavenly Happiness for it contains the physical presence of Jesus Himself. And where Jesus is there not only is happiness, there is Beatitude, for there is Heaven Itself. Our Lady of the Beatitudes, Mother of the Eucharist, pray for us Sinners, now and at the Hour of our death. So we can enter into heavenly Beatitude. Amen.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

We have lost our taste, and who can restore it?

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 6th, 2011

In Last Sunday’s Gospel we heard Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. The Beatitudes are the very conditions that Jesus lays down for entering the Kingdom of Heaven. In the Beatitudes, Jesus demands that we live what we believe if we are to be happy, better yet, blessed. The Beatitudes reminds us that love consist not just in avoiding sin, but in doing acts of love in order to show forth our love of God and love of neighbor. In other words, love is shown by deeds not by sweet words.

Today Gospel follows on the heals of Jesus’ teaching of the Beatitudes. It reminds us that living the beatitudes is not just for our own spiritual well-being, but for the well-being of other souls as well. Every single Christian is called to strive for holiness by living the beatitudes in order to be a witness to the whole world to God’s truth and love. By our lives of holiness we are called to seek not only our own salvation but also the salvation of others. As one Jesuit priest put it, “Either we seek the salvation of others or we will not be saved ourselves.”

Vatican II, reiterating the ancient teachings of the Church, called this vocation of ours of using our life to seek the salvation and the sanctification of others, the apostolate. We are to be witnesses throughout the earth by living the beatitudes that is living lives of holiness in order to lead others to God so that they may be saved and so enter into a eternal union of love with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the apostolate; living our lives for love of God and love of neighbor, and love of neighbor consist primarily in working to save our neighbor, even given our lives for the sake of their salvation if necessary. “Whosoever shall seek to save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose it, shall preserve it.”

Today, Jesus teaches us this by using the images of salt and light. In the old days, as my mom as told me many times, there were no refrigerators, or freezers, the only way meat was kept from spoiling was to store it in salt. Salt preserves food from spoiling; it also brings out the flavor of food and makes its more pleasant. So too, with the world. The world is only kept from spoiling by us Christian Catholics being the salt of the earth, by having the light and the life of Christ alive in our souls.

The holiness of Christians also gives flavor to life in this world, for we, if we live our Catholic faith authentically, remind the world and it’s inhabitants of meaning and goal of man’s existence. Man has been created by God for God; the world is God’s good creation; it sprung forth from the Word of God, and through that same Word it is redeemed and called to return back to the God from which it came. We, you and me, are called to save the world through our holiness of life, witnessing to the world the truth of God and taking the light and life of Christ out into its darkness. We are to help in leading the world back to God, by bringing His grace out into the world.

Jesus today however, also reminds us that salt can lose it taste; it other words we are called to be salt to the world by our lives of holiness but if we fail to become holy we loose our taste, that is we fail to be witnesses to the world. What good are we then, but to thrown out and trampled under foot. And so, if it is possible for us to lose our flavor, our Divine Grace, and to be thrown out, how then to we guard from losing our taste, the taste of holiness. How can we be truly light for our world? How can we give the hungry bread to eat?

It is by the Holy Eucharist received and adored with faith weekly, and if possible even daily, that keeps the salt from losing it taste; It is the holy Eucharist approached with love and devotion that helps our light shine before Men, for our light is Jesus, He who is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is our daily bread, better yet our super-substantial bread, the Bread of Life by which we can feed the world. The world is hungry for the Eucharist, starving for the Eucharist.

The Father’s of the Church wrote that Faithful Catholics who participate fully, actively and consciously in weekly Mass, and receive the Holy Eucharist worthily and in the state of Grace are the anima Mundi, that is, the “soul of the world.” In other words, the world would die in its sins if not for Catholic Christians with the life of Christ, Christ Himself alive in their souls. This life is called charity and we are to share it with the entire world in order that it might be saved.

When we take part in the Eucharistic action, we allow the Holy Spirit to apply to us the salvation won for us on the cross by God the Son. When we share in the Eucharist, we cooperate in the continuing process of our salvation, which must continue during our whole lives if we are not only to be saved, but become one with God. And in our union with God, lead others into this same union, a union of love with Love.

When we pray the preface of the Eucharist, the priest, in Christ’s name, asks us to lift of our hearts, and we respond, we lift them up to the Lord. It is a wonderful gift of offering ourselves completely to God in, through and in union with Christ’s offering on the cross. By the power of the Holy Spirit, this unites us to Christ fully and we become his witnesses, just like the apostles and all of the saints. What an awesome calling we have been given, this is how and only how, we can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

It must be said that this awesome gift comes an awesome responsibility as well. It brings to light why every Catholic must attend Holy Mass every single Sunday and every single Holy Day of obligation, unless he is prevented from doing so by a serious reason, like an illness. To too, brings up the constant teaching of the Church that it is a very serious sin to deliberately miss Sunday Mass or a holy day of obligation, it is actually a mortal sin; and it is a complete failure in Charity. When Catholic miss Mass deliberately, they turn our backs on Christ and on the process of their redemption, they refuse to carry out Christ’s command to, “do this in commemoration of me”, and they refuse to receive him and his salvation and thus become salt that has lost its flavor. They can no longer feed the world by bringing it the light of Christ and His Divine Love.

The utter folly of what we do by willfully ignoring our Mass obligation is somewhat analogous to a deep-sea diver’s putting a crimp in his air line so that no air can come through to keep him alive. By a decision to miss Sunday Mass or a holy day of obligation the operation of sanctifying grace is suspending in the life of a Catholic, the life of charity in their soul dies, and they can no longer bring the light of Christ to those we meet in our daily lives.

Even our good acts, become devoid of the power to lead others to Christ, because they become merely our own acts, devoid of Christ’s power to elevate them to acts of Charity. Our good human acts are only Charity when the life and light of Christ is alive in our souls. Thus to bring the light of Christ back alive in our souls after we have deliberately missed Mass, and for the sake of our eternal salvation, we must go to confession in true contrition as soon as possible and take the crimp out of air line, so to speak, allowing sanctifying grace again to flood our souls.

But we must do more than just attend Holy Mass we must participated it in with full hearts, minds and voices. We must enter into it sacred mysterious, experience them and allow ourselves to be transformed by them. To do this we must offer ourselves to the Father in union with the offering of Jesus being made truly present on the Sacred Altar by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the gift of the Sacred Priesthood. We must place ourselves on the paten next to the bread, that with we too might be transformed into the Body of Christ, for the sake of the whole world.

What I am about to say is not easy to say. We Catholic Christians are called to be salt and light to the world; we are called to give the hungry of the world some of our bread. If our world is falling into darkness, the problem is not with Governments, politicians, the economy, the terrorists, the radical Muslim, or some great power in this world; no, the problem lies with us Catholics. We have then lost our taste, and who can restore it? Only Jesus, Jesus Truly Present In the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, Jesus who truly continues to offer Himself on the Sacred Altar of every Mass, while at the same looking for those who will give themselves to Him so that He can use them to continue his saving work out in the world by leading souls back to the God who loves them.

As we approach the holy season of lent, let us ask our Lord for the grace to turn from sin and to draw ever closer to Jesus Christ, truly present in the Holy Eucharist. Let us pray too for the grace to enter into the Holy Mass each and every Sunday with deep devotion and deep love, offering ourselves there, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the Father in union with Jesus’ offering on the altar of Sacrifice.. Let us realize the awesome gift we have been given by being able to attend Mass and to receive Jesus, the light of the world, every time we receive Holy Communion, so that we can truly be salt for the earth, and light for the world. And let us make our offering with and through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, help of Christians...Amen.