Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Sexagesima Sunday—19 February A.D. 2017


Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Lenten Observance

     During this pre-lenten season of Septuagesima the Church has her priests and religious read the book of Genesis in the Divine Office.  You are reading it too, if you follow the reading outline in the Parish Bulletin.  You read about creation in general and the creation of Adam and Eve in specific.  You will recall that God created them with special gifts which, even though they were bodily creatures, preserved them from the physical problems which plague all material beings.  In the state of their original innocence they were united with God in grace, given a keen and rapid intellect, and preserved from sickness and suffering and death.

    All of creation—angels, men, and everything else—was created by God to reflect His glory.  “God made us to show forth His glory in this world, and to be happy with Him in the next,” as the Catechism says.[1]  But nothing in creation is necessary for God—He didn't have to make any of it—He wasn't lacking anything before He created it.  We might think of God as a king, and think of creation as His crown.  The crown adds nothing to His kingship; He would be king if He had never made the crown; He would continue to be king if He decides to stop wearing the crown.

    But there is an important implication here for God's rational creatures—that is for His creatures who are think and to act upon their thinking—which, as far as we know means just angels and men.  The implication is that if we thinking creatures are to act for God's glory we must have free will.  That is to say that our greatest glorification of God comes from the fact that we are free to make choices as to how we will act; and then, given that freedom, we act as we know God wants us to act.  There wouldn't be much glory given to God if our behavior was like that of a machine or even a robot that had been programmed to act according to a predetermined set of instructions.  When you turn on the washing machine, you may be grateful that it cleans your clothes, but you don't really think of it as “giving glory” to you as its owner, or even to the Maytag corporation that created it!  On the other hand, if you have a child with a free will, who could disobey you, but freely chooses to do the things that please you, you have good reason to feel honored.

    All of creation stands in the same relationship to God.  He is glorified by all of the angels and men who freely choose to do the things that please Him.  But, given that angels and men have free will, not all of us choose to serve God.  Instead, some of us say, “I will not serve.” [2]  And, of course, in thus rejecting God, we also reject the happiness that He has to offer us in heaven.

Some of the angels took this course—Their false pride led them to believe that they were equal to God—they refused to serve God, and were cast into hell.  They still retained their angelic nature, but this radical disobedience and their hatred and jealousy of all who remain in God's graces causes us to refer to them as “devils.”

Likewise, Adam and Eve, refused to serve God.  They were led by one of these jealous fallen angels to believe that they themselves would become gods if they disobeyed God. [3]

    There is one very important similarity between the fall of angels and of men.  That is that they both fell because of pride.  The phrase in Jeremias, actually directed at the rebellious people of Judea is often attributed to the devil: “I will not serve.” [4]   I will follow my own will instead of God's will.  And Adam and Eve did precisely the same thing; they followed their own wills, thinking that doing so would make them gods.  I say that this is a very important similarity because, if we examine the sins that we ourselves commit, we will see that all of them, in some way, also spring from pride.  I steal because I feel I have a greater right to my neighbor’s property than he does, I commit adultery because I have a greater right to his wife, I may even take his life because my concerns are more important than his.  I ignore the rights of God because of a similar false sense of importance:  no need for an important person like me to have to worship God, or to worry about how I use His name, or what I do on His day.  It is hard to think of a sin that is not rooted, somehow, in false pride.

    There is also an important difference between the sin of angels and of men.  We both have free will, but when the angel makes his decision, his will remains fixed for all eternity—so to speak, he cannot change his mind.  The angel who rejects God and says “I will not serve” rejects Him forever.  But man, on the other hand, can change his mind.  If we make the mistake of rejecting God—if we fall from grace through sin—we are able to repent.  We are able to change our mind and ask for God's forgiveness.  Just how that forgiveness will be arranged is a topic for another time, but for the moment let’s just recognize that it is possible.  And lets recognize also that our free will makes it possible to go along in God's graces for many years only to change our mind and reject Him in later years.  Perhaps this isn't so likely since good habits are hard to break, but I mention it to remind you that vigilance is always necessary.

    Now, sometimes people complain that they have been treated unfairly.  They feel that God should not have taken away all those special gifts from them just because of someone else's sin.  Why should they lose that keen and rapid intellect, and why should they have sickness and suffering and death just because Adam sinned?  They fail to see that those gifts were precisely that: gifts; they were not owed by God to anyone.  And they fail to see, above all, that we are really no different from Adam or Eve, for we have also sinned, and in that sense we have ratified the sin of Adam for ourselves.

    And that might serve as our point of meditation for the coming week:  To recognize that our end in life is to glorify God.  To recognize the possibility of repenting the mistakes we have made.  And to examine our consciences; to take stock each evening of the ways in which we have joined with Adam in disrupting the beauty of God's creation through sin.  And, hopefully, such meditation will move us to sorrow for our sins, and even to a positive love for God and all of His willingness to redeem and forgive us.


Dei via est íntegra
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