Tag Archives: Sin

Homily – The Flesh vs. The Spirit (Sunday OT 14 A)

Zech 9:9-10
Ps 145       R/. I will bless your name for ever, my king and my God.
Rom 8:9, 11-13
Mt 11:25-30


In our second reading today, St. Paul reminds us: Brothers and sisters: You are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit (Rom 8:9). Flesh and Spirit — St. Paul uses these images to symbolise the internal struggle of the Christian: the battle against our tendency to sin. This is a major theme in Paul’s letters.

But he’s not using this to make a commentary on the body, as if to say that the body — or material reality — is bad and only the spiritual is good. He’s using these words to symbolise deeper realities. For Paul, the flesh symbolises the life of sin (elsewhere he calls it the ‘spirit of the world’), and the Spirit symbolises the life of grace.

St. Paul is trying to help us understand the spiritual struggle that lies in each of our hearts. Deep within us, due to original sin, is the tendency to sin — what we call, concupiscence —, and if we look closely at this tendency and where it points, it becomes easy for us to see why St. Paul clumps it all in together under the name the flesh. Our tendency to sin is always directly to pleasure: be it lust, gluttony, greed, pride, anger, sloth or envy, each of these deals with a certain sense of the pleasures of the body. That’s pretty obvious when it comes to lust, gluttony and sloth, but it’s also true of the others. Greed, for example, is really just a lust for money or material things. And pride is really about puffing one’s own ego to make ourselves bigger than we really are. That’s why we give it bodily terms? (i.e., ‘You’re so full of yourself’, or ‘What a fat head’, etc.). These sinful attractions are what St. Paul means by the flesh, and they’re something toward which each of us leans because of original sin.

But St. Paul seeks to remind the Romans (and us, too!), that we’re not slaves to these fleshly desires. No, we’ve been redeemed by Christ! In Baptism, our fleshliness (these sinful tendencies) was put to death on the Cross so that we could receive new life in Christ through the Holy Spirit. This is why St. Paul tells us, You are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit.

We’ve been claimed by Christ, and it’s His Spirit that now dwells in us. We’re no longer ‘fleshly’ beings, but born of the Spirit. And it’s this life in the Holy Spirit that ought to direct our lives, not our base inclinations to sin, our concupiscence. That’s why we need to do battle with our tendency to sin, so that the life of grace we received in Baptism can continue and grow even stronger. Because, as St. Paul rightly says, if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Rom 8:13).

Jesus has redeemed us by His Death, and He continues to save us through the forgiveness of sins in Confession, not so that we might continue to die according to the desires of the flesh, but so that we might live according to the grace of the Holy Spirit.

That’s why in the spiritual life we often speak of ‘dying to self’. To die to self doesn’t mean that we become disinterested in ourselves and allow ourselves to be victimised by the sinfulness of others. Rather, it means that we struggle against our desire for sin so that we can truly live according to God’s love as His sons and daughters. It means that we must chose to abandon certain practices, certain likes, certain ways of living — that’s the dying part — so that we can remain faithful to God’s commandments.

We have to let go of our sinful habits, and even grow to hate them, so that we can choose to act in love instead of selfishness. And we call it dying because it’s not easy and often feels like we’re dying when we change our ways. It costs us something. In order to receive the grace God has in store for us, we first have to let go of what we’re already holding. That’s why Jesus said in last Sunday’s Gospel, those who lose their life for my sake will find it (Mt 10:39).

This, my brothers and sisters, is what God has hidden from the wise and the intelligent but has revealed to little infants (cf. Mt 11:25). We are called to die to sin, to die to self, so as to live for and with Christ. That’s why it’s so important for us to be constantly examining our hearts: are we living according to the flesh, or according to the Spirit? And this is why it’s so important for us to be constantly repenting of our sinfulness and clinging to God’s mercy and grace. Because we can’t win this battle for ourselves, we can only win if we allow the Holy Spirit to take over, to heal and to lead us in the ways of God. No, we are not of the flesh; we are of the Spirit, and therefore we must live by the Holy Spirit.

Breathe into us, Holy Spirit, that our thoughts may all be holy.
Move in us, Holy Spirit, that our work, too, may be holy.
Attract our hearts, Holy Spirit, that we may love only what is holy.
Strengthen us, Holy Spirit, that we may defend all that is holy.
Protect us, Holy Spirit, that we may always be holy (cf. St. Augustine).

Amen.

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Homily – Sunday Lent IV C – The Joy of the Father’s Mercy

Rembrandt_FilsProdigue PS


Jos 5:9, 10-12
Ps 34         R/. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
2 Cor 5:17-21
Lk 15:1-3, 11-32


What a beautiful story our Lord shares with us today, the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We’ve all heard many times in our lives; I’m sure you’re all very familiar with it, so today, I won’t give a lengthy exegesis of the parable but rather focus just on one aspect: the father’s welcome.

Let’s listen to that passage again: … while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him (Lk 15:20). What a beautiful scene! Instead of scolding his son for having rejected him — by asking for his inheritance early, the son was essentially saying, ‘You’re dead to me’ — and wasted his inheritance, the father embraces him, clothes him with the best robe, and puts a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. In other words, the father removes the signs of slavery and sin and restores his son to the fullness of the dignity of sonship that he had before.

This, my brothers and sisters, is why we rejoice today on Laetare Sunday. Because God is the compassionate and loving father who embraces us, his prodigal children, when we return to Him repenting of our sins! Like the father in the parable, God waits for our return, watching for us in the distance, and then, when He sees us, He eagerly runs out to meet us. Yes, there is indeed more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Lk 15:7).

And it’s this eager, joyful compassion that God extends to us that we’re called to remember in this Lenten season as we examine our hearts, repent of our sins, and turn back to the Father. That’s why we do Lenten penances, to express our sorrow: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you (Lk 15:18). And when we do this in humility and with a genuine sorrow for our sins, then the Heavenly Father embraces us just as in the parable, and He renews our sonship, clothing us with the best robe: the garment of salvation, the robe of righteousness (cf. Is 61:10).

But God’s joy in our return doesn’t stop there! He also celebrates our return with a great feast. God is generous in His love and mercy, and this, this is why today we rejoice. Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult, for God welcomes sinners (Is 66:10-11; Lk 15:2).

Through the grace of Christ, and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may we also truly repent of our sins and return home to the Father to share in His joy. Amen.

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Homily for Sunday OT 26 B – If your hand causes you to stumble…


Num 11:25-29
Ps 19   R/. The precepts of the Lord are right, and give joy to the heart.
Jam 5:1-6
Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48


In our Gospel reading for today the Lord Jesus uses very strong imagery: If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off … if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off … if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out (Mk 9:43, 45, 47).

Obviously, He isn’t calling us to mutilate ourselves — I think we’d look like a sorry bunch if He were… But rather, Jesus is using this vivid imagery to help us understand His point: we need to do whatever it takes to avoid sin and reduce temptation. This is at the very heart of the life of virtue to which we’re called as Christians: to reject evil and choose the good (cf. Is 7:15).

The Lord is telling us that, in our struggle against sin and temptation, we need to eliminate from our lives everything that leads us into sin. If the Internet is leading us into sin, then we need to cancel it; if television is leading us into sin, then we need to get rid of it; if a particular friend or group of friends is leading us into sin, then we need to let them go and find new friends…

Jesus uses this strong language to help us understand how serious and committed we need to be in our battle against sin. This is rooted in the reality of how serious and deadly sin is for us. Sin is the road to Hell, and if we allow sin to take hold of us, that’s where it’ll lead us!

That’s why Jesus says, it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell (Mk 9:43). It’s better for us to live without friends, the Internet, or whatever… than to go to Hell. Now those are just random examples; each one of us needs to ask ourselves, what are the things I have, the actions I do, the people I know, and so on… that lead me into sin? What in my life makes it harder for me to refuse temptation? These are the hands, feet, and eyes Jesus is calling us to amputate; these are the things we need to shed in order to grow in virtue and enter into Heaven!

But in order for us to successfully avoid sin and refute temptation, we also need the desire not to sin and the desire to change our lives. That’s because the true causes of sin lie not outside of us, but within our own hearts. As Jesus told us a few weeks ago, [it’s] from the human heart that evil intentions come (Mk. 7:21). The external things we’re called to shed lead us into sin because we’re weak; they awaken in our hearts the desire for sin and weaken our desire to avoid sin. Getting rid of them, then, isn’t a guarantee of not sinning, but is intended to help us grow in our desire to avoid sin and to fight temptation; it strengthens us for the good fight.

That’s why most acts of contrition include a line like, I firmly intend, with the help of your grace, to amend my life and to avoid what ever leads me to sin. Confession isn’t about allowing us to continue sinning and get away with it; Confession is the failsafe, it’s the safety net Jesus has given us in case we fall! As St. John tells us, My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 Jn 2:1). Confession is the gift of God’s mercy because He wants us to be saved. He doesn’t want us to continue sinning, but rather, with His grace, He wants us to grow in virtue and holiness.

That’s why He’s also given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help our conscience discern what is good from what is evil, and to give us the grace, courage, and fortitude to refuse evil and choose the good.

May we, then, who profess the name of Jesus and hope in His mercy, be strengthened by His grace to remove from our lives whatever leads us into sin, so as to cling to what helps us grow in virtue and holiness. Amen.

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Homily – Sunday Lent III B

Ex 20:1-17
Ps 19       R/. Lord, you have the words of eternal life.
1 Cor 1:18, 22-25
Jn 2:13-25

Mosaic in the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria Nuova di Monreale,  Sicily. 12th century.

Mosaic in the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria Nuova di Monreale, Sicily. 12th century.

Many people in our world today find this Gospel passage rather disturbing. This scene of Jesus ‘getting angry’ and ‘violently’ chasing the merchants out of the Temple doesn’t sit easy with them. How can Jesus, God’s love incarnate, get angry and violent, how can these actions be compatible with love, they ask?

There are two common solutions to this problem. One: simply ignore this passage, and never talk about it; pretend it’s not in the Bible, because is doesn’t fit our understanding of who Jesus is. Or, two: attribute this ‘outburst’ to Jesus’ humanity, and see it as an example of weakness just as if one of us did it.

I’m sure you’re not surprised –– I hope you’re not surprised… ––, but what a bunch of nonsense!

We can’t ignore a passage of Scripture because we don’t like it; if we did that, the Bible would be empty. If we think it doesn’t fit our understanding of God, then either we don’t understand God, or we don’t understand the passage. And if we think that Jesus’ humanity lead Him into an outburst of anger, a tantrum, which would be a sin, then we haven’t paid enough attention to the doctrine that Jesus was without sin (cf. Heb 4:15).

So then, I guess it would seem that if we’re confused by this passage, then we just haven’t understood it… and that’s ok! There’s nothing wrong with not understanding, only with not wanting to understand.

Yes, Jesus got angry, no one denies that. But John doesn’t use the word ‘anger’, he speaks of ‘zeal’ — enthusiasm in pursuit of something. Now this is important because, contrary to what many people today think, anger isn’t always sinful. Injustice, deception, falsehood, or any other form of scandal, should make us angry, because we recognise in our heart of hearts that such things are evil and that they cause us (and others) grief. The presence of sin and evil should stir in our hearts the desire to get rid of it, to fix it, to bring back goodness and proper order. That was part of the lesson of the Ten Commandments in the first reading: God’s people are called to live a life of order, one ordered to the greatest good of all, God Himself (cf. Ex 20:3-5).

This anger against evil is called ‘righteous anger’, and not only is it not a sin, it’s actually a gift of the Spirit, because it’s the Holy Spirit that stirs within us this outrage in the sight of evil (cf. Neh 5:6; Ps 69:9; Ps 139:19-22). And this is what John means here by ‘zeal’: that Jesus, stirred by the Spirit, was outraged at the way the Temple was being disrespected and misused as a place of commerce and cheating. It was a violation of the sacredness of the Temple.

You see, the Temple merchants were renown for cheating. Jews came from all around the known world to worship and offer sacrifice in the Temple. The merchants offered them money-changing services, but frequently ripped them off. So in chasing them out, Jesus was purging the Temple of wickedness and evil to restore its sacredness. He was chasing out sin.

But notice how John also makes a point of telling us that Jesus also added a deeper meaning to His actions. John says that Jesus also spoke about the Temple of His Body (Jn 2:21). You see the Temple was a symbol of God’s presence in the midst of Israel, and Jesus is God among us. He is the true Temple.

With this, Jesus and John are trying to tell us something about us. You see, because of Baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we, too — you and I, and all the baptised —, have become temples of the Holy Spirit. And like the Temple of Israel, we, too, need to be properly ordered to the pure worship of God. Like the Temple, we need to be cleansed of our idols and sins. This is why the Church gives us this reading in the Lenten Season. We need to chase sin out of our lives with the same zeal and force Jesus had in cleansing the Temple. This is the role of grace!

Grace and sin cannot co-exist. Either sin takes over and destroys grace, or grace purges sin. So we need to open our hearts to Jesus and ask Him to cleanse the temple of our souls; we need to ask Him to chase out our sins and idols from the depths of our hearts. And so, this passage of the Gospel is essentially an invitation to repentance and purification. This Lenten Season, may we allow Jesus to restore the sacred order in our hearts. Amen.

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Homily – Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

Vigil Mass:
Acts 3:1-10
Ps 19        R. Their voice goes out through all the earth.
Gal 1:11-20
Jn 21: 15-19
Mass during the Day:
Acts 12:1-11
Ps 34        R. The Lord has set me free from all my fears.
2 Tim 4:6-8, 17-18
Mt 16:13-19

pavel

In our times today, many people want to pit St. Peter and St. Paul against each other. St. Peter, they say, was the Apostle who wanted everyone to obey him; he was authoritarian, that’s why he’s the first Pope: everyone had to listen to him and follow his lead. St. Paul, on the other hand, was independent; he was the firebrand Apostle who was never afraid to speak, didn’t play by the rules, and went wherever he felt the Spirit was leading him. In this way, he was the first Protestant, they say, and a truer disciple of Christ…

Nothing could be further from the truth! In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke clearly sates that the disciples of Jesus were of one heart and soul (4:32). Their union with God translated visibly into a union with each other; this was a hallmark of the early Christian community! Sts. Peter and Paul were no different: both dedicated their lives to preaching Christ and bringing people to repentance and union with God; both laid down their lives for Jesus in the Roman persecutions of Nero (64-68 AD). Both believed with one heart, preached with one heart and died with one heart. It’s for these and other reasons that the Church has held, nearly from the beginning (ca. 258 AD), a solemn feast to celebrate these two Apostles together.

When Jesus first called Peter to become a disciple, it was from the shore, as Peter and his brother Andrew were fishing. Jesus said to them, follow me, and they did (Mt 4:18-20). When Jesus was walking on water, he called out to Peter and said, come (Mt 14:29). Peter himself later even said, Look, we have left everything and followed you (Mt 19:27).

But when Jesus was arrested, and the other Apostles left Jesus, Peter, who had claimed he would follow Jesus unto death (Mt 26:33, 35), followed Him only at a distance (Mt 26:58) and even went on to deny Jesus three times (Mt 26:69-74).

After the Resurrection, Jesus again appeared to Peter from the shore. Three times He asked, Peter do you love me? (Jn 21:15-19). Having said yes, Jesus, once again called him, Follow me (Jn 21:19). And this time Peter did, even unto death. Having experienced the depths of Jesus’ love — Jesus never gave up on Peter, never rejected him, never condemned him —, Peter finally gave himself over to God’s love: Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you (Jn 21:17). And because of this abandonment to God’s love, the Holy Spirit was able to transform Peter from a man of fear and denial into one of courage and fidelity. We see this very clearly on that first Pentecost, as Peter preached the first homily and baptised 3000 people.

For his part, St. Paul started out as what he thought was a perfect Jew (Phil 3:4b-6). He was zealous for God and the Law, and strove with all his power to perfectly obey the will of God. That’s why he was able to approve of the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1), and dedicate himself to stopping the Christians (Acts 8: 1, 3; 9:1-2).

But then Paul heard God’s voice: I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting (Acts 9:5). The man who once arrested Christians and would have happily killed them for God, was now awakened to God’s true identity. Paul’s zeal for the Law had blinded him to God’s identity, but God, in His loving mercy, reached out to him and turn his zeal for the Law into a zealous love for God and people. Jesus, in His mercy, called Paul to repent and be an instrument of salvation (Acts 9:15). St. Paul spent the rest of his life helping others to love and follow Jesus.

My dear brothers and sisters, our weaknesses and sins only become obstacles to following Jesus when we keep them away from Him. When we accept Jesus’ love and mercy, and give ourselves over to Him, allowing His love to transform us, our sins become shadows of the past and our weaknesses, sources of strength. Jesus was able to turn an impetuous, quick-tempered apostate and a prideful accomplice to murder into two of the greatest Saints of the Church. He turned their stubbornness and zeal into instruments of salvation for the world, and their bodies into sacrificial offerings to God. If He can do that with Peter and Paul, what will He accomplish with us if we follow Him?

As we remember these two giants of faith — upon whose faith we stand today as Roman Catholics —, may we turn to them for their example and invoke their intercessions, as we strive to give our hearts over to Jesus, so that with them, we too, might be of one heart and soul with Christ and with all believers. Amen.

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Homily – Palm Sunday

Mt 21:1-11
Is 50:4-7
Ps 22         R. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Phil 2:6-11
Mt 26:14-27:66

 

Entry into Jerusalem, by Bl. Fra Angelico

Entry into Jerusalem, by Bl. Fra Angelico

My brothers and sisters, with this Mass today we enter into Holy Week, the most solemn week of the year, as we journey with Christ in His Passion and remember God’s great love for us. In these next days we’re going to relive the last moments of the life of Jesus through the various liturgies that will take place, and I encourage you to really enter into these events with prayer and reflection so as to encounter the drama of this week in a deeper way.

I use the word ‘drama’ here not in the sense of theatre, but in the sense of the emotions that we experience at the unexpected events of Christ’s Passion. You see, we began Mass today with Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, when He was joyfully greeted with cheers and waving of branches: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! (Mt 21:9).

The pilgrim crowds who followed Jesus from the countryside were essentially proclaiming Him King. The whole scene is filled with strong Messianic symbols for Israel: the king had the right to borrow without permission someone else’s donkey for his own use; Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was reminiscent of Solomon’s riding to Gihon on a donkey to be anointed king (cf. 1 Kg 1:32-48); and the Prophet Zechariah had prophesied, Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zec 9:9).

But by the time we got to the usual place of the Gospel, we heard nothing of joy, but only anger and jeering: Let him be crucified! Let him be crucified! (Mt 27:22, 23). The residents of Jerusalem — who were not the same crowds who greeted Him earlier — didn’t know Jesus, so they refused to acclaim Him; they rejected Him.

My brothers and sisters, the drama of today’s Mass is a microcosm of the whole of Holy Week, as begin today with joyful hosannas and end on Friday with the gruesome Cross. But is this drama not also a microcosm of our own lives?

How easily we often turn away from God when we don’t take the time to know and recognise Him, when we don’t take the time to pray! The drama of this day — indeed of the whole week — reveals to us the ugliness of sin, which brings about only death.

But more than that, the drama of these events reveals God’s tremendous love, the Love that urged Jesus to carry His Cross and offer His life for us! And so our journey with Jesus in this Holy Week is meant not only to help us grow in our sorrow for sin, but also in our love for God and in our joy for the gift of His love.

Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, humbled Himself and willingly accepted His Passion and embraced the Cross for love of us. May we, in turn, enter into His Passion and embrace the Cross for love of Him. Amen.

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Homily – Sunday OT 24 C

It was my Deacon’s turn to preach this weekend, so I didn’t give a homily.  Nonetheless, I thought it would be good to post the homily I gave 3 years ago on the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, year C.

Ex 32:7-11, 13-14
Ps 51:1-2, 10-11, 15, 17         R/.  I will get up and go to my Father.
1 Tm 1:12-17
Lk 15:1-10

I’m glad that I get to preach this weekend, because rarely do we get readings that fit so well together as they do today.  In the four pieces of Scripture — the first reading, the Psalm, the second reading, and the Gospel — we find the essence of the on-going drama of the human story: the dynamic of sin and conversion.

Sin has deeply wounded our capacity for love and joy, and we often find ourselves looking for them in all the wrong places.  Like the Israelites, we, too, are quick to set up idols hoping they’ll bring us happiness.  Maybe we don’t cast golden calves anymore, but how often do we find ourselves looking for happiness in money, power or sex?  Sin has scarred us so deeply that we don’t even have to try for this to happen; it’s become almost ‘natural’ for us to turn away from God.  We, too, are often a stiff-necked (Ex 32:9) people.

But we shouldn’t let this destroy our hope; like the Israelites in the desert, we’ve got someone who implores God on our behalf, and someone who’s far greater than Moses (cf. Ex 32:11f).  Jesus has shown us the One True God and that it is possible, with His grace, to remain faithful to God’s love.

God loves us, and wants us be with Him — not only later in heaven, but now, here, on earth.  Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tm 1:15); He came to save us, not to condemn us (cf. Jn 12:47).  He welcome[d] sinners and [ate] with them (Lk 15:2) not because He was ‘non-judgemental’ and ‘tolerant’, but because He loved them and was calling them to conversion.  Eating with them was a way of showing that He valued them and loved them.  It was a concrete way of going after the lost sheep, of searching for the lost coin.

Each one of us, no matter what we’ve done, is far too precious in the eyes of God to be abandoned to the darkness of sin.  Jesus died on the Cross for every person, throughout all of history, including each of us here today.  Each of us is precious and valuable in the eyes of God, and He wants us to be with Him, to turn back to Him: He went even to the depths of Hell to bring His lost sheep home.

In seeking us out, Jesus calls us to conversion and wants to strengthen us with His grace.  But conversion isn’t so much an event as a process, an encounter that turns into a relationship.  If we look at Paul’s dramatic conversion, it took place not so much because he saw the Risen Jesus and heard His voice, but because He listened to His voice and responded to it.  Paul spent time with Jesus and came to know Him, and so was able to give Him his heart and remain in His love.  ‘Remaining with Jesus’, this is the essence of conversion, and it requires a choice, an on-going choice: everyday we need to turn to Jesus, and, unlike sin, we need to put some work into it.

Grace isn’t magic, it builds on nature, so for grace to be really effective we need to work with it and allow it to work in us.  To be converted, we need to let ourselves be brought back; we need to turn our hearts to God, and work with His grace to remain faithful to His love.  In order to do that, we need to meet with Him, to listen to His voice; we need to make ourselves available for His love and grace to work in us.  Making time for prayer and reading Scripture, and going to Confession on a regular basis will go a long way in this process.  There’s also Eucharistic Adoration, spending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  This week we begin our regular weekly Thursday time of Adoration.  The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed from 10am to 10pm, and I strongly encourage you to come and spend some time with Jesus, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.

There is indeed joy before the Angels of God over one sinner who repents (Lk 15:10), and there should be joy in our hearts, too, when our lost brothers and sisters return to God.  (We shouldn’t be grumbling like the Scribes and Pharisees.)  But we don’t need to wait for them to be brought back: we can help Jesus seek out His lost sheep.

Along with making ourselves available for meeting Jesus, we also need to allow our love for Him to be expressed.  Now this can be done in a variety of ways, but whether it’s through acts of service or some other form, what’s important is that we receive others with love and acknowledge their value and dignity as children of God.  God loves everyone and finds them precious, so much so that He gave His only Son for them; we need to love them and see them as precious, too.  By following Jesus’ example and treating everyone we meet with love and dignity (because God loves them), we become instruments of His saving work.

The grace of our Lord really does [overflow] … with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus (1 Tm 1:14).  By our own conversion, may we become channels of that grace.  Amen.

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