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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Go Home Justified! Confess Your Sins

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 23, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”(Luke 18:14)

In today’s Gospel passage (Luke 18:9-14), we receive a lesson on the importance of humility. 

Our Lord tells a parable about a religious 
leader and a common tax collector who find themselves praying in Jerusalem’s holy temple. Both the Pharisee and tax collector stand facing the high altar offering their prayers and lives to God. 

The Pharisee stands by himself looking up to heaven as was custom delivering a prayer with “I” in every breath. He says, I thank you that I am not like the others, I fast twice a week, pay tithes on my whole income.”

Meanwhile, a few yards away, a tax collector prays. Pious Jews regarded such a man as the scum of the earth. He bows his head to the ground, beating his chest, confessing his absolute need for God because of his sins.

He prays, “Be merciful to me God for I am a sinner.” Our Lord Jesus says, “I tell you, this man, the tax collector, went to his home justified rather than the other.” 

Today’s Gospel passage reminds us that the practice of our faith has nothing to do with ourselves. The practice of our faith is instead about conforming our will to the will of God.  Mass, prayer, the precepts of the Church, the commandments, the sacraments -- all that we do as Catholics is meant to conform us to the way of God’s plan for eternal life.

Today’s Gospel therefore calls us to examine our intentions. Do we come to Mass to give gratitude to God for all He has done for us? Do we come to fall in love with Christ and His Church? Or do we come to Mass out of obligation and in boredom? 

God wants us to be happy. He wants us to come before Him acknowledging our weaknesses and our need for His mercy! Our 
Go Home Justified 
Church has the sacrament of Confession. This sacrament is the most perfect opportunity to go home justified as did the tax collector in today’s Gospel.

When we come into Church, do we humble ourselves before the presence of God? Our Lord wants us to approach Him in the Holy Eucharist with utmost reverence. It is the Lord whom we receive! And if we can’t receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist for whatever reason, we show our Lord much humility when we come up in communion line and ask for a blessing.

In our time today, some Catholics do not walk
humbly before the Lord, but instead challenge Our Lord’s teachings. For example, the Church's teachings on contraception are widely ignore by many Catholics.

Politicians  claim to be Catholic yet publicly espouse beliefs that are contrary to our faith. They support gay relationships and abortion. This is not an attitude of humility, but of pride toward Our Lord and His Church.

My brothers and sisters, the overall message of today’s Gospel is that if we want to grow in our relationship with God, than we
must humble ourselves before Him. Our Lord wants our faith to be real. He wants our worship to be sincere. 

Such humility allows us to become who God made us to be. We  no longer rely on ourselves but on the Lord. In humility, our Lord works in us and through us because our lives no longer become about us but about Christ living in us.

This is what we see in the examples of the lives of the saints. Some -- such as Saint Paul -- had to be humbled before becoming the holy man Christ called him to be. Others such as Saint Therese of Lisieux were living a saintly life since childhood. Yet, what all holy men and women have in common is their extreme desire to humble themselves before Our Lord! 

Just yesterday our Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, processed together under the protection of Our Blessed Mother to pray the Holy Rosary. Next to Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Blessed Mother is the most perfect example of humility. Our Blessed Mother did not seek to do her will. She sought nothing but to do the will of God!

Ordination of Fr. John Paul Shea
My brothers and sisters, let us learn from the example of our Blessed Mother! Let us learn from the saints! We cannot decide right and wrong for ourselves. We must trust the Church. The bottom line is that if we want to enter into the kingdom of Heaven than we must humble ourselves before Our Lord acknowledging that we are nothing without Him!

As we come to receive Our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist this evening, let us recognize our need for humility. We Catholics have been given the gift of eternal salvation! We have been given the gift of Our Lord Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist! Let us never place ourselves and our own self will in front of this great gift! Let us never dare to allow the spirit of pride which is so prevalent in our society today to turn our hearts from living our faith for God alone. “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Christ washing the feet of His apostles. "Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross." (Phil 2:6-8)


1 comment:

  1. It's always a blessing to read Fr John Paul Shea's homilies.
    Also thank you Ma'am Susan and Sir Lawrence for resuming activity on the blog despite your packed schedules.
    Warm regards and prayers.
    Edwin Rodrigues