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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Homily 9-30-2012


 Everything a Christian does should be able to answer the question, “What is your goal in doing that?,” with the resounding answer of “To Build up the Body of Christ.” There are various ways to do that, and Jesus focuses on two of them today: sin and scandal.
If you love someone, you tell them the hard truth they need to hear even when they will be unsettled by it. Parents know that very well, because they have to do this often to their children. This is what Jesus says to us today. He reminds us both of the ugliness of sin, and of the reality of eternal punishment for obstinate sin which is unrepented.
We see how ugly sin is through the intensity of the words Christ uses to encourage us to avoid it: it is better to chop off your hand or gouge out your eye than to be stuck with sin. Those aren't very pretty images, because sin is not pretty.
By the way, it is probably a good thing we don't take this literally (even the fundamentalists don't seem to do so), otherwise we would have lots of us walking around in pretty miserable state! But seriously, Jesus is speaking symbolically: it is never our members that cause us to sin, because sin always requires a human choice, a free rejection of God's Will for My Will. Every sin repeats the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden. And that is why our sins were redeemed by Christ's obedience to the Father's Will in going to the Cross and his death. The Cross shows us two things at the same time: how ugly sin is, and how much love God has for us.
If sin is ugly, then holiness is beautiful. To be Holy is to be like God, to be full of God who is Love. We resonate with that beauty. When we see love, we are drawn to it, we are enlivened by it, we are strengthened to do the same in our lives. Love encourages love, and selfishness or sin encourages the same spiritual atrocities.
This brings us to the next topic Jesus mentions, which is the problem of scandal. As Jesus has to address those who do some good while not being perfectly in communion with Him as His followers, he also has to speak out against the leaders (including teachers, parents, etc.) who draw others into sin. Now I am certain that God glorifies His Name even through weak, fallen instruments, such as myself and Fr. Bill, but we need to be on vigil to help each other live holy lives!

Where are we focusing our energy? Better to focus on removing SIN and SCANDAL than on JEALOUSY for "God's" (our) Will.
2284 - Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

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