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Monday, September 21, 2015

Humble Yourselves! Receive the Mercy of God.

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept 20, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

Today’s Gospel (Mark 9:30-37) gives us a lesson on humility, which is necessary for
Though He was God, He did not regard
equality with God something to be grasped.
But He humbled Himself taking the form
of a slave. (Philippians 2:6)
every Christian who wants to develop a right relationship with God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching His disciples that He is going to suffer. This proclamation of Our Lord about His suffering was the second He made to them about His coming passion.

You may recall in last week’s Gospel that Jesus asked his disciples
"Who do people say that I am?" Peter was the only disciple to get the answer right. He said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Then Jesus tells Peter in essence, “Yes, you got it right.” 

He then speaks of the consequences that are to take place because He is the Son of God — that He must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.

Yet, Peter did not understand. He was thinking like man, not like God. In fact, Our Lord was so distressed by Peter’s refusal to recognize the truth of His coming passion that He replied by saying,
“Get you behind me satan!” 

In today’s Gospel, the disciples again do not understand. But we get 
some insight into why. They were too filled with pride. They could not see the bigger picture because they were too filled with their own self-ambition. They argued among themselves about who was greater.

That story gives us a lesson on the importance of humility. If we truly want a relationship with God then we must strive to humble ourselves before the Lord. 

Pride is the root of all evil. Pride was the cause of the fall of mankind from God’s grace.  The devil told Eve that she could become like god if she ate of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. And she took the bait --  that is the fruit --  which has led the  whole of humanity to turn their backs on God ever since. 

Pride is the temptation to make ourselves god. Instead of allowing God to lead our lives, we decide for ourselves what is best. Like the apostles in today's Gospel, under the influence of pride, we compare ourselves with others. We want to be the greatest. 

Humility, on the other hand -- the recognition of who we truly are in relationship to God -- opens the door to deeper intimacy with God. Humility opens our minds and hearts to the truth -- the truth of our faith, the truths of
The hour had come for Him to leave the world.
He got up and began to wash his disciples' feet.
ourselves, of our lives, of our bodies, our sexuality, of marriage, of salvation. When we humble ourselves, then we see where our behavior needs to change.

In fact, more than ever we need to recognize objective truth because truth is being relativized. Our culture today is living pride on steroids! The manifestation of pride through violence, immorality, arrogance, conflicts, dissension, manipulation… is tearing the fabric of our world apart. 

In fact, as a priest, I have noticed in my recent discussions that there is a sort of edginess in the hearts of many about the times we live in today. People can literally “feel” that the troubles of our world are piling up and that these troubles will inevitably soon reach a breaking point.

Today there is unease among  Catholics about the direction our Church is heading because pride is working hard to influence our faithful away from the teachings of Christ. My brothers and sisters, we are living in critical times both in our Church and in our world.

The most important thing is to humble ourselves before God! As a country, we need to get on our knees and beg God for forgiveness. Receive God’s mercy!

Pope Francis has called for a year of mercy that begins Dec. 8. This proclamation is no accident, because in these critical times in which we live, only God’s mercy can save us. 

Baptism of Jesus: John said, "I am not worthy to untie his sandal." (John 1:27)
Yet, God’s mercy can only be given if we truly humble ourselves before Him, and seek forgiveness for our sins. 

In fact, just as the disciples did not understand Our Lord’s prediction of His passion -- that in order for Him to be raised up again He must first suffer -- many in our Church today do not understand that our Church too must first undergo its passion to be raised up in glory with Our Lord on the last day. 

Is our Church getting close to this point? We do not know. But, if we look at the state of our society today, we can see that our we are entering some difficult times.

"You see, abortion was rare when the laws governing its absolution were devised. So too were divorces and annulments rare when the Church established her tribunals. So too were rare those who divorced and re-married, or those who were openly gay, or those who were raised in same-sex relationships. All of a sudden, within a few generations, the Church finds herself at an hour when moral norms are no longer the norm; when the majority of those who call themselves Catholics in the Western world no longer go to Mass; and when the light of authentic Christian witness has been mostly dimmed as even “good Catholics” have compromised with the spirit of the world." according to Catholic blogger Mark Mallett.

We do not know the future. But we know that God is in control. He is in control of our world, the Church, our lives and society. No matter the messes we make nor the attacks against our Church, the truth of God will prevail!

Seek humility. Come to God. Admit your faults. Realize that God is all good and we are nothing without Him!

For the world and its pride will be broken, and our Church and its faithful will be purified so that it can be found without spot, stain, or wrinkle as it enters into the fullness of its glory in the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who humble themselves before the Lord so that they can be part of this eternal kingdom that is soon to come! 
Apostles John and Peter recover their humility -- rush to the tomb of
Jesus Christ, who has been reported alive.

Did you enjoy this post? There are more. Perhaps you'd like to read Who is Father John Paul Shea? From Mormon to Catholic Priest

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