Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost—27 September AD 2015

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
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Decorum (.doc)

“The grace of God is given you in Christ Jesus,
that in all things you are made rich in Him.”[1]

    On previous occasions I have mentioned that Christianity is unique among most of the religions of the world, in that it claims that its God actually intervenes in human history.  In the Old Testament He dealt personally with His people from Adam and Eve through Noe … Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses … Isaias, Jeremias, and Daniel … on through to the last of the prophets.  In the New Testament He sent His only begotten Son,  who in turn appointed apostles and founded a Church to preach the Gospel to all nations, even until the very end of time.  Most of the other religions of the world are really nothing more than a philosophy—a set of directions for dealing with the world in a way that will reduce the difficulties of everyday life.

    But Christianity is also different in that it expects to work a change in those who follow its ways.  To be sure, it expects to work a change of heart in those who learn its commandments, and who learn of the terrible suffering endured by our Savior as He hung on the Cross in reparation for our sins.  It expects to work a change of heart in those who learn about the unfathomable love of God for His people, as manifested in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Likewise, the sinless purity of the Blessed Virgin Mother calls out to the hearts of those who come to know and love her through her divine Son.  But the change worked by Christianity is even more radical than all of that.

    Saint Paul speaks of this radical change in today's Epistle to the Corinthians.   “Nothing is wanting to you in any grace,”[2] he says.  For the change effected by God in the souls who follow Him and receive His grace is nothing less than an overhaul of human nature.  In the state of original sin, man is not capable of doing anything worthy of heaven.  His best efforts can never rise above the plane of natural creatures.  In a few cases, he may act with a degree of nobility, like the Greek Socrates or the Chinese Confucius—in most cases he will be something less, maybe even down right evil—but in all cases, his best efforts will never rise to the plane of pleasing God on the supernatural level.  A clever dog or a monkey might do a few things that mimic human behavior, but will never be one of us.  But, even more so, the gulf between humanity and divinity is so wide that we can never overcome it by our own efforts.

    The fundamental change that Christianity works in God's people, then, is not simply one of inspiring them to great human efforts.  That would be inadequate.  Rather, the change is the work of Christ working in us—the work of grace.  In Baptism, original sin is taken away, not merely covered up.  We might even say that sin is “driven out” by Baptism and the other Sacraments, for when we say that a soul receives “sanctifying grace” in the Sacraments, we are saying that, at the same time, God Himself comes to take up residence in our souls.  Once we are justified by Baptism and remain in the state of grace, the good things that we do take on a divine character—they become more than just the proper way for a man to behave.  In the state of grace we become Christ like, and every bit of good that we do is seen as the work of Christ by His Father.  In the state of grace, because Christ is acting through us, we can actually do things that are meritorious in the sight of God.  In this sense, we can be said to earn a place in heaven—something we could never do on our own, apart from the graces of the Sacraments.

    “Be of good heart, thy sins are forgiven thee.”[3]   The people of Nazareth who heard Jesus say these words when he healed the man with palsy knew that something radical was taking place.  Jesus wasn't just handing out advice about the maladies caused by sin and how to avoid them—He was doing what only God could do: driving out sin and replacing it with the grace of God.  If Jesus was just another philosopher, He would have been committing blasphemy, a merely human being making Himself out to be God.  But, in fact, He is God, the Son of God, and is fully able to radically change the nature of all who believe in Him and are baptized.  And just as He cured the sick, and even as He raised the dead, He is able to restore to grace those who are willing to confess their sins to Him, and to receive His lifegiving Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

    Now, what does this mean for us on the practical level?  Well, first of all, let it be said that God expects all of the human effort from us that we can muster.  If anything, more is expected of the Christian who has been entrusted with more.  We must strive to know God by learning the details of the Catholic Faith to the best of our abilities.  We are still “our brother's keepers” and must strive for justice and equity in our society, and charity within ourselves.  We ought to allow ourselves to be transformed by the examples of Jesus and Mary.

    But central to the work of God, who has taken a personal interest in His people and in their very nature, is this need for a radical transformation through grace.  All of the good that we do will be of no more than natural value if done apart from Christ.  “To as many as receive Him, He gives the power of becoming sons of God.”[4]    Frequent attendance at Mass, reception of the Sacraments, and a regular prayer life distinguish the Christian who will rise above his mere mortality to the kingdom of God.  What could be more important?  In these things the Holy Ghost makes us living temples of God, raising us above our nature as only the living God can do.

“The grace of God is given you in Christ Jesus,
that in all things you are made rich in Him.”




[1]   Epistle:  1 Corinthians i: 4-8 

[2]   Epistle: ibid. verse 7 

[3]   Gospel:  Matthew ix: 1-8


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