Monday, July 16, 2012

For whom did Jesus suffer? For all sinners

Just as an animal becomes a stronger beast of burden and more beautiful to behold the more often and better it is fed, so too confession - the more often it is used and the more carefully it is made as to both lesser and greater sins - conveys the soul increasingly forward and is so pleasing to God that it leads the soul to God's very heart. - St. Bridget

(Gospel Text: Mt 10:34-11:1)
Jesus said to his Apostles:
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one's enemies will be those of his household.

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

"Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet's reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous
will receive a righteous man's reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple?
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."

When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples,
he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

If you are anything like me, you probably started shifting around in your seat uncomfortably when you heard today’s Gospel. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, tells his Apostles that he has not come to bring peace, but the sword. He has come to turn family members against one another and household against household. Can Jesus really mean what he is saying?

All of us have friends (even very close friends) who are not Catholic, or even Christian. Is Jesus telling us to cut these people out of our lives and ignore them? No! We are called to love everyone and to strive to be Christ to everyone, especially those who do not know him yet. Jesus is warning us, though, that it can be easy to become caught up in the world and forget about God. Even folks who attend Mass every Sunday faithfully can very easily just go through the motions of prayer without actually praying. Please allow me to illustrate.

We know that if we leave dirty clothes in the laundry basket for weeks, they will start smelling bad. If we leave them there long enough, they’ll begin to rot; we won’t even be able to put them on. That’s why we do our laundry every week.

Well, in a similar way, God is calling us to wash ourselves every day from the things that threaten to spoil our hearts. He calls us to examine our consciences every day and repent of anything we find there that is displeasing to him. He also calls us to the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we can be cleansed deeply and restored to his presence. Why? Because our Father wants us to become holy. He doesn’t want us just to live; he wants us to thrive and take on his own divine nature!

So here’s the question: are you walking with an unwashed soul? Even if you go to Mass regularly, it’s still possible that you have “bloody hands” that need to be cleansed. If that’s the case, then get to Confession! It’s not enough just to go to Mass, if there isn’t the will to change. It’s not enough to say your prayers every day if you aren’t opening your heart to the Lord.
Go and confess your sins. Disarm them by naming them humbly and openly to a confessor. Then let your heavenly Father embrace you, heal you, and set you on the path toward holiness. He is always ready to open heaven for you so that you can be filled with his power and grace.

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