[Ordinary of the Mass]
“…you have received the spirit of adoption of sons,
whereby we cry: Abba (Father).”
If you have been in this parish any
length of time you have probably heard me talk about “original sin.” Obviously
“original sin” is not a sin that we ourselves have committed—rather it consists
of the graces that we did not inherit from our first
parents, Adam and Eve. In many ways this is like the rich man who gambled away
his entire fortune, and has nothing left to leave to his children—it is not the
children’s fault, but they still don’t receive any money. In a similar manner,
we are born without the sanctifying graces that would make us holy.
Only with the Sacrifice of the Cross did
God make it possible to acquire sanctifying grace. We make this acquisition
through the Sacrament of Baptism as infants, or through an Act of the Faith
accompanied by Baptism as adults. The infant is intellectually incapable of
rejecting the Sacrament, but the adult must first submit to God’s prevenient
grace and believe what God reveals to us through His Son’s Church.
To as many as receive Him, He gives the power to become the sons [and
daughters] of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not
of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of
[the will of] God.
The Baltimore Catechism informs us that:
Q. 316. Baptism takes away original sin; and also actual sin and all
the punishment due to them, if the person baptized be guilty of any
actual sins and truly sorry for them.
Q. 317. The effects of the character imprinted on the soul by Baptism
are that we become members of the Church, subject to its laws, and
capable of receiving other sacraments.
It is safe to say that the Baptismal Character identifies
us as WHAT Saint Paul describes as the “heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs
with Christ.” It is this Character that renders us capable of calling God
“Abba,” which the Scripture translates as “Father,” but which comes from the
Aramaic and is “used as the term of tender endearment by a beloved child – i.e.
in an affectionate, dependent relationship with their father; ‘daddy,’ ‘papa.’”
Thus, by virtue of our Baptism we are able to address God with the same term of
endearment as our Lord used in calling on His Father during His agony in the
Saint Paul tells us that “you have not
received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have received the spirit
of adoption.” An important aspect of Sanctifying Grace is that it makes us
radically holy, giving us the right to call on God for the
strength to resist the powers of the devil—as a good Father, He is our provider
and protector, and has assumed the responsibility of granting us adequate graces
for our eternal salvation. We must still make the effort to cooperate with
those graces, but we can never say that we didn’t have an ample opportunity.
Now, that is where today’s Gospel comes
It should be obvious that our Lord was not commending the unjust steward for his
dishonesty. Yet He was commending him for his prudence. The steward knew how
to make us of his master’s goods for his own benefit.
We are urged to similar prudence to
benefit from the lavish gifts God has bestowed upon us. If we are prudent, we
will not miss an opportunity to gain God’s graces. We can do that in any number
of ways. We can take advantage of frequent Confession and Communion. We can
attend daily Mass—especially if we live close enough. There should never be a
day without at least five decades of the Rosary—fifteen is even better. There
are always indulgences that we can gain [LINK].
The Holy Bible is an inexhaustible treasure of spiritual reading [LINK].
Some will enjoy reading the writings of the great Fathers of the Church [LINK].
The Divine Office, especially at Matins, combines both the Scriptures and the
No day should pass without at least one spiritual or corporal work of mercy [LINK].
(If you go to this sermon on the Parish Website, you will find links to all of
these resources.) There are opportunities to pray with your fellow
parishioners, and you can always pray alone. The point of all of this is that
our Lord expects us to make prudent use of His graces, both to gain His favor,
and to protect ourselves against the loss of our immortal souls.
He expects us to call upon His help:
received the spirit of adoption of sons,
whereby we cry: Abba (Father).”