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Thursday, February 16, 2017

MESSAGE TO YOUTH: God Has Set Before Us Good and Evil. Let Us Choose Life!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Feb. 12, 2017
Youth Camp Retreat, Mount Lemon, Arizona

In today’s Gospel (Matt 5:17-37), Our Lord speaks of the importance of overcoming sin.

It begins with Our Lord Jesus speaking to the Jewish people about the commandments, which God had given them so that they could live according to God’s plan, and He reminds us that He has not come to abolish the laws and commandments, but to fulfill them. 

These are fulfilled in His Person as He is God’s Son, who came to suffer and die for our sins. Following the commandments is essential if we want to have eternal life. 

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.” (Matt 5:21-23)

Take a moment to realize what Our Lord is saying. If we are angry with our brother, we  are liable to judgment. If we call someone a “fool,” then we are liable to hell. 

If we carry grudges against another person, then we need to stop this anger in our lives now. We must reconcile the situation and apologize. Our Lord says, “
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.”

Lack of forgiveness doesn't just disappear when we die. No, we take these issues with us into the next life. That is why we must strive to make peace and reconciliation today.

Further Our Lord says, “I say to you, whoever divorces his wife - unless the marriage is unlawful - causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

The Church takes the sacrament of marriage seriously. We take divorce seriously. Why? Because Our Lord does.
“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matt 19:4-6)

Therefore, if you are called to the vocation of marriage, now is the time to make good preparations. Marriage is for life. Making a bad choice in this area could have devastating effects on you and your children's lives. Preserving your chastity now will make for a better marriage later. It's not necessary to date more than one person in your life -- your future spouse. Dating someone exclusively in your youth when you are not planning to marry can actually cut you off from opportunities for other friendships and academic achievement. Even if you date chastely, it can be hurtful when these relationships inevitably break off and someone goes to college. Make the most of your time as a single person! Use your creative talents. Volunteer and give yourself to others. This is the best preparation for marriage.
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the seriousness of committing the sin of impurity -- even in our thoughts.  “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman [or man] with lust has already committed adultery with his her [or him] in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.”

There are many lures to immodesty and impurity in our society today. Jesus does not want us to seriously cut off our hands and feet, but His point is that we must make every effort to overcome the near occasion of sin! Such an effort will benefit you later in life whether you marry or choose a celibate vocation in the Catholic Church.

We must cut out of our lives whatever leads us from eternal salvation. If we struggle with pornography, for example, than we must do all we can to cut ourselves off from watching such filth. Even some television programs verge on being pornographic. If we have a boyfriend or girlfriend who leads us into sin, then we may have to end the relationship. If we are addicted to computer games, we need to find something else to do.  

Fr. John Paul Shea
My dear teen brothers and sisters, the overall message of Our Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel is that the choices we make in this life determine the course of our lives and where we will live after we die. Our Lord Jesus has come to save us. He died for us! He wants us to live happy lives and then come home with Him forever. 

In today’s first reading (Sirach 15:15-20), God says that he has [set before us] fire and water, life and death, good and evil, to whichever [we] choose shall be given [us]. God says,
“If [we] choose to keep the commandments, they will save [us]; if [we] trust in God, [we] shall live.” 

Let us therefore choose life. Let us follow the teachings handed down to us so that we can have eternal life. Let our "yes" mean "yes" and our "no" mean "no." 

May God give us the grace to understand His words to us today. May God bless each one of you with His Holy Spirit to protect you always. Amen.

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