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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Homily - Biking and Holiness

A few times in my life I have had the joy of biking up a mountain.  Well, to be more exact, the actual biking up the mountain wasn’t actually very joyful - that part was more like hitting your leg muscles with a baseball bat for 30 or 60 minutes.  Not that I’ve ever tried that, but based off how your legs feel afterwards, I think it’s a good guess.  But what makes it a joy is the view, the accomplishment, and yes, the riding down the mountain.  I won’t tell all the moms in the room how fast I was going, just be confident that I was safe and careful, or at least fortunate, and that’s why I’m still here.  But there is one important thing about the uphill climb on a bike: you don’t stop spinning those pedals.  On a bike with an 8 or 10 percent grade, you are either climbing or falling, either moving forward or backward.  If you think you have “arrived” at the top before you actually have, it can be a sad awakening.  You simply can’t stop the effort, or you will fall or perhaps end up going back down right where you came from.
          Every human action is a moral action (it uses that which is distinctly human – our free will and our intellect), and thus you are either being sanctified or falling from grace. 
Newman: To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.   
Newman: Growth is the only evidence of life.    - Take this for what you will in terms of biology, I believe it makes even better sense in our spiritual lives.  If we aren’t growing, we are dying if not already dead.
          The Pharisees think they have arrived.  They think they are done growing.  They’ve made the fatal biking error of stopping pedaling while still on the hill. 
The woman, however, knows she has fallen from grace.  Yet she has the high ground, because her sin is now brought into the public and she has to face it, and thus she is humbled (humiliated).  Now that she can no longer pretend, her repentance is easier.  She has the high ground, because she has embraced her lowliness.
The Pharisees on the other hand, need more help along the way, for they are stuck in the dangerous spiritual state of having “arrived,” of quitting the hard work of their spiritual growth, and are busy looking down at those beneath them.  As long as they are looking behind at those below them, they are unable to climb higher.  Sure, they may not be committing adultery, but they are murdering their fellow sister in their hearts by their condemnation, their lack of desire to build her up.  They require Jesus to wake them up from their slumber, to pull them out of their tombs and reveal to them that they also need to admit their sinfulness if they are to recover their spiritual lives.
We cannot get comfortable with our own spiritual status.  We must realize the importance of constantly growing, for if we aren’t pedaling up the mountain towards heaven and co-operating with God’s manifold graces in our lives, then our human weakness will throw us down the hill.
Thomas a Kempis: He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall little by little into greater ones.

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