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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Listen Attentively To The Word of God

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jan. 24, 2016
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

 As we come together today to celebrate the Holy Eucharist this day, let us reflect on our need to listen to the Word of God.

Today’s first reading was from  the Book of Nehemiah 8: 2-4a, 5-6, 8-10, which was written about 500 years before the birth of Jesus and after the Babylonian exile.

The Jews had turned away from God’s laws, and as a result, they were exiled. Now, that they have returned, the Israelite priest  Ezra reminds the people that the most important thing for them to do -- as a nation -- is to adhere to the laws of God. 

Ezra brings the law before the assembly of the people, and reads out of the book from daybreak until midday. All the people listened attentively while bowing down and prostrating themselves before the Lord. 

Fr John Paul Shea
My brothers and sisters, this reverent scene of the People of God listening attentively to the Word of God is intended for us today!

As the Israelites strayed from God’s word and His plan, they experienced many hardships and difficulties. So it is today. 

The hardships we suffer in our world today occur because we have turned away from God’s revelation of His plan! 

In fact, we live in a nation that was founded on God’s laws! But prayer was removed from the public schools. The Ten Commandments Monument was ripped from the Alabama Judicial Building! Abortion was legalized in 1973, and since then 58 million Americans have been killed in the womb. 
We can see the effects of our disregard for God’s laws in the violence in our cities and the broken homes of the lost children across the nation.

We hear so much today about our need to fix the world problems through methods such as fighting the war on terror or by combating so-called global warming, but the reality is that will do us little good if we do not first acknowledge and  adhere to God’s plan for our lives!

If the world does not follow God’s laws and His will for humanity by acknowledging His Self-Revelation, then nothing we do will save us from the ills we have brought upon ourselves. 

We can cut down on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere all we want, but if we do not follow God’s laws, everything else we do is done in vain! 
Number of Abortions since 1973 are equal to the population of these U.S. states
Just consider the number of children who are legally aborted in our societies today. This alone will bring judgment upon our nations unless we as a whole society make drastic changes to stop destroying God’s gift of life!

Consider the fact that our country now outwardly encourages sexual relationships between people of the same sex, calling  
such a relationship "marriage." This is more than enough to force God to intervene in our world for the wellbeing of humanity.  And He will intervene! 

We hear Catholics  who say that the Church should not focus exclusively on issues such as abortion or same sex "marriage." Yes, the Church needs to serve the poor. But, sins of the flesh are destroying more souls and disrupting families, creating more poor single households. Our Lady of Fatima told the children, “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason!”

God has revealed Himself to us! He has taught us His laws. His Word doesn’t change.

In the past, peoples encountered hardship  because they turned away from God’s laws. 
So will our peoples today suffer many troubles if we do not place God in the center of our hearts.

We must call on the name of our Lord Jesus! He is the fulfillment of God’s revelation. He is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah as we hear in today’s Gospel where it is written that 
“[God] has anointed [Him] to bring glad tidings to the poor… to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Isaiah 61:1)

My brothers and sisters, today’s readings emphasize to us that God has visited His people. He has given us His Word. He has given us His commandments! And, He has sent us His Son to free us from sin and heal us of the burdens we place upon ourselves. 

We must follow God’s teachings! We must listen to God’s Word. We must share God’s Word with others. This is our job as Christians!

In today’s reading, Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand. This is what our Church needs today! 

People need to hear plainly the Truth! Yes! God is against homosexuality! Yes, God is against same sex "marriage." Yes, God is against divorce and remarriage.

This is the Year of Mercy! God is merciful. But if we fail to grasp that mercy and listen to God, the Scriptures are full of the stories of the struggles the people of God faced when they hardened their hearts. 

The godless society of today will falter, but if we stay close to Our Lord, we shall hold firm. As the Israelites in today’s first reading prostrated themselves  before the Word of God, so too we must humble ourselves ourselves before God!
 As we reflect on the message today and think about the serious offenses that are taking place in our time against God’s plan, let us learn the Word of God and live it. 

Let us hold onto the truths of our faith. And let us prepare our hearts for the coming of Our Lord Jesus who is coming soon to fulfill the establishment of His Kingdom and who will judge the living and the dead. Amen.

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  1. Surprise, I have a Google Account-- Watch out, I can't wait to blog. I had problems due to Googlee tonight,but glad I can post for you.
    Comment. I agree with you on Issues laid out. By Observation, anyone with common sense can see the
    disjunction in Our Communitys & through the World. Children that have an opportunity to Survive Birth these days, " unless things change" is a thought I can't vision a "Balanced Holy Spiritual Ending."
    God Help Us.❤️��

  2. As a layman, all I can and should say is, "Thank you Rev Fr John Paul Shea!" Jesus Himself speaks through the Priest & besides gratitude & taking heed to His words through the Priest, I can only hope and pray that all of us keep cooperating with Grace & allow ourselves to be renewed all the time. May all hardened hearts be softened, beginning with mine.
    Warm regards and prayers
    Edwin Rodrigues