Sin is a failure to love, and very often our worst sins are the things we ought to do but don’t.
But unworthy as we are, God is always ready to heal us.
One of the lessons of today’s readings is that God listens to all of us who humbly call upon the mercy and love of God. Our prayers and supplications, though they leave our lips directed to God they remain powerful and with life. Jesus reaffirms in the Gospel; this certainty and he emphasizes being humble before God and others. Although we should be grateful for the ways in which our prayers have been answered and grace has enabled us to grow in the way of holiness – we ought not to be presumptuous, judgmental, and arrogant.
Not everyone believes that God is listening or that God wants to forgive them. After doing something we know is quite wrong, we might wonder how God could continue to love us. It is precisely as a sinner that a person most needs the love of God, most needs God’s help. The poor, the widow, and the orphan often suffer from insecurity or a lack of confidence that God hears them. God assures all of them in this first reading that no less than any other humble person whom they might consider more worthy, God is listening and ready to answer their prayers according to the divine plan. God sees the sinner as a person who needs to be healed and restored.
Sometimes we believe we can only be in God’s good graces based on our performance-and not His mercy. This is a dangerous place to be.
Will he find faith on earth when he returns?
That's the question at the end of this weeks Gospel Reading. If we want the answer to be yes, then we need to follow the example of Aaron, Hur, Moses, the woman in the Gospel and take to heart the exhortation of St. Paul in the second reading.
God desires us to be born into a family and to worship in a community. We are not solitary pilgrims on the lonely road of salvation responding to the universal call to holiness. We are the Body of Christ and we are meant to accompany each other in meaningful and fruitful ways on this journey. Just as the first reading described, united we stand but alone we will grow weary allowing the enemy to overtake us.
"Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit!
Why do I bother going Church, to Mass?
The virtue of gratitude helps us experience the interior joy that comes from knowing we are loved by God, without limits or conditions. It is such an important virtue, that God put it at the very center of Christian worship: the celebration of the Eucharist. The perfect way for us to offer a perfect thanksgiving, an infinite act of gratitude in worship, praising God at the top of our voices and throwing ourselves at the feet of Jesus to express our gratitude for the love and mercy that heals us.
That’s why, if we are well and able, we don't stay home and just say some prayers, watch Mass on TV, go to the mountains, and enjoy the view, take the kids to sports competitions, or spend the day shopping. Those are good things, but they ought not to take us away from coming back daily or weekly to offer our thanksgiving. What happens here, in this community and on this altar, is much, much better.
If we come to Church with an attitude of gratitude to God and a joyful desire to worship God and give thanks in the company of our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we won't be overly concerned about the music, the preaching, who's wearing what, who's doing what... although our worship, our liturgical celebration ought to be excellent in every way, our collective failures won't get in the way of our knowing why we are there or our ability to worship and give thanks.
Doing the bare minimum in life and in faith, is never enough. Be superhuman with supernatural love.
For many of us, our Christian life could be summarized by saying we have done what we were obliged to do. We will even proudly say before God. Did that, now let me in to heaven. But God wants more than just what we’re obliged to do, just as our husbands, wives and kids want more from us than the bare minimum. God also wants us to know that he understands that it's hard and that we get discouraged. And he needs us to hear him when he says that he has given us all we need to do more than we're obliged to do.
Before you were a parent, with that first child, I'll bet you didn't think that you were capable of all of the things that you ended up needing to do as a parent, especially that first year. Yet, it almost never fails when you become a parent it's like you become superhuman. Love for another human being can empower you to do the most incredible of things that you never imagined yourself being capable of doing, being, saying.
Like in the time of Amos, we are witness to the great suffering of so many in the world and the rejection of the ways and truths of God by the faithful, even leaders in the Church. Things that make us wonder where is God in all of this. Make us ask what's going on and how we can face it all. How can we face the challenges that we are confronted with? How can I face the challenges going on in the church today? We could just loudly complain to God and others about the situation in the world, right? Which might involve yelling at a television that can't hear you. We could just loudly complain to God and others about the Church. And we could become discouraged about the power and presence of God, about the strength of the church, the mystical body of Christ and about our own power in Christ?
But we like the apostles know in our hearts that we were made for greatness. We must believe God who tells us that we can do so much more than we imagine possible, so much more than that which we're obliged to do. Because of his love for us that inspires in us a supernatural love for others, for ourselves, and for God. That this supernatural love will raise us up to be capable of amazing things that we never thought we could be and much of the ordinary strength to be superhuman parents, spouses, priests. Just like before you had kids. You doubted. You wondered about your own abilities. You wondered if you were up to the demands of it all. And then you came to know that love really does have a power to raise us up. To make us more.
And what is the love of God that empowers? Is the Holy Spirit that we received in fullness in those first sacraments of baptism and confirmation. That we have strengthened within us as we receive the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist. That we received for living our vocations, the specific state of Life to which we're called when we received the Sacrament of Marriage and Holy Orders. These sacraments contain within them that which we need to vivify, to bring the life, to set aflame the Spirit of God within us. The love of God that animates us, to let God do truly wonderful things in US and through us.
We have what we need to do more than the obligatory. We don't have to cry out to God to increase our faith so as to live it fully and powerfully in the Spirit. Do we want to grow? Absolutely. Do we want to become Saints, holier every day? Absolutely we should. And we should believe that God can make it so. If we cooperate. If we listen to him. If we do what he says. God's own strength will be released in our lives. A supernatural source of empowering love made possible by Christ himself. A supernatural strength that will yield, if we let it a supernatural joy in us. A joy that will help us and enable us to do all of this in the midst of what might be crushing times in the world or in the Church. The times we live in are objectively either good, bad, better or static. None of that, if we remain in the power of God and living life in the Spirit ought to affect our disposition. It should not discourage us. It should not give rise to doubts within us if we are plugged into that source of life. Then we can have that super abundant joy in the midst of those difficulties, and remain certain and confident, trusting in God that we have the power to overcome it all in him, just as Christ overcame death on the cross. This is who we are and don't let anybody ever, especially the enemy, tell you any different. You are God's own. And you are powerful in him.
Fr. Blair Gaynes has been in the Diocese since 2008.