THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for Monday, October 5th, 2015
Opt. Memorial of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos
Liturgical texts here
The Hauler of a Boat, by Honoré Daumier, (1808-1879)
WE are living at an hour when many souls have grown weary, very weary. And though our weariness may be the fruit of a myriad of differing circumstances, there is often a common root: we are weary because we are, in one way or another, running from the Lord.
We are living in a culture in which the restrainer has been lifted, in which there are no limits to sin, no limits to individualism, no limits to conscience except the ones we wantonly deem agreeable. We have become like a child set loose in a candy store, cf. The Great Vacuum only to find that the endless selection and quantity of sweets has become our undoing.
Now that we have fully tasted the promises of unlimited freedom, we begin to appreciate once again the old phrase: “world-weariness”. Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden. Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (BENEDICT XVI), Auf Christus schauen. Einübung in Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, Freiburg, 1989, p. 73; quoted by POPE FRANCIS in his opening homily at the Opening Mass of Ordinary General Assembly of Synod on the Family, October 4th, 2015; Zenit.org
In today’s first reading, Jonah is commanded by the Lord to preach repentance to Nineveh.
But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the Lord. (First reading)
He hides in the hold of the ship; hides in the depths of the sea; hides in the belly of a whale… but Jonah learns that you cannot hide from the Word of the Lord. It is like the sun, and “nothing escapes its heat.” Psalm 19:6
We are often weary because we too run from the Lord, run from what we know is the right thing to do. We make excuses that this teaching is too hard, that this doctrine is too rigid, that this demand of the Gospel is too unrealistic. And yet, it is this very resistance to the Voice of Truth that renders us unhappy, irritable and restless.
We, in fact, are symbolic of Nineveh too. Perhaps we need, once again, the Gospel of repentance preached to us. Have we taken Divine Mercy for granted? We hear the words of Jesus to St. Faustina, and we are relieved:
I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1146
But do we forget that Divine Mercy is given precisely to enable us to enter into the life of God, which is harmony with His Divine Will? As we hear clearly in today’s Gospel, the key that opens the door to eternal life is fulfillment of the Great Commandment:
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself… do this and you will live.
If we reject this, the Scriptures are equally clear that we shall die.
The wages of sin is death… Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven… Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves… (Rom 6:23; Matt 7:21; James 1:22)
As the Synod on the Family continues in the days ahead, there will be those who will attempt to distort the biblical vision of Pope Francis, which is to welcome all sinners into the bosom of the Church so as to journey with them into the liberating message of the Gospel. They will suggest that Pope Francis is simply saying that we must “love” and “tolerate” everyone, that is, their sin. But brothers and sisters, this is a demonic lie that has already wreaked tremendous havoc, even among the members of Christ’s body, as it drains the power of the Gospel, the purpose of the Cross, and the grace and merit of Christ’s sacrifice. Salvation comes to those who do the will of the Father. That is, even baptism is not a “ticket to heaven”:
Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but “in body” not “in heart.” All children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be the more severely judged. —Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 14
It would be good to recall the words of a soul from purgatory crying prophetically to us at this hour:
You have all taken shelter beneath hope in God’s mercy, which is, you say, very great, but you see not that this great goodness of God will judge you for having gone against the will of so good a Lord. His goodness should constrain you to do all His will, not give you hope in ill-doing, for His justice cannot fail, but in one way or another, must needs be fully satisfied. —St. Catherine of Genoa, Treatise on Purgatory, The Dialogue, Ch. XV; ewtn.com
Have we taken those radical steps necessary, particularly when tempted with mortal sin, to ensure that we have not embarked on the wide and easy road that leads to perdition?
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. (Matt 5:29)
That is, if your computer causes you to sin, get rid of it. If alcohol causes you to stumble, pour it down the sink. If shopping causes you to bow down to idols, then cut up your credit card. Then seek the additional help that you may need—like a drowning man calling for a life-buoy. In a word, we must do what Our Lord commands us to do:
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple… everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27, 33)
The only way to overcome this world-weariness that has infected so many is to run from that which truly makes you weary: compromise with the spirit of th
e world. I know many of you are struggling with pornography, with food addictions, with consumerism, compulsiveness, and other snares. It is a sign of the times that so many sins and temptations have besieged even the most innocent souls. And yet, we must honestly question ourselves as to whether we are “fighting the good fight”, as St. Paul exhorted, for…
Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith… (1 Tim 1:19)
The Lord, who is a “jealous God”, asks for all your love, and in return, He will give you His very self—an infinite source of unspeakable joy, peace, and rest. Yes, rest. Satan wants you to believe that by resisting the flesh, you are missing out on some well-deserved pleasure. When will we put down the forbidden fruit that is an empty promise and reach again for the hand of the Father who never disappoints?
Yes, even now, the unfathomable love of God reaches to you and me, despite our sins, to call us to communion with Him. Even now, it is not too late. As Jonah cried out,
When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; my prayer reached you in your holy temple. (Today’s Psalm)
But should we be tempted to presume on God’s mercy—confessing sin, all the while assuming that He will simply forgive willful persistence in it—we would do well to ponder Christ’s other words to St. Faustina:
Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy… before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice… —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of St. Faustina, n. 848, 1146
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|1.||↑||cf. The Great Vacuum|