Saturday, September 16, 2017

Homily outtakes

When preparing to preach on a Gospel as on-point as the one for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time for Year A, about how fundamental being willing to forgive others is to being a Christian, it is common for me to compose a longer homily than I can in good conscience deliver. This means there are leftovers, as it were. Sometimes these leftovers, or outtakes, are not worth handing on. When that is the case, I simply delete them. For whatever reason, I felt the section below was worth posting.
Karma, of course, is a word taken from Eastern religions (i.e., Hinduism and Buddhism). It refers to someone receiving what s/he deserves. I don’t know about you, but, as a Christian, by the mercy of God, I do not hope that now, or in the end, I get what I deserve. This ought to prompt me to ask myself, How can I justly want mercy for myself, a sinner, while desiring that somebody else gets what I think s/he deserves? While your karma may run over my dogma, I will take grace over karma any day, which is why it is important to make frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance and to receive the Eucharist at least every Sunday and on Holy Days, as our Mother, the Church, prescribes.

As Christians, we certainly believe sin has natural consequences. While confessing our sins, receiving absolution for them, and doing our prescribed penance remits the eternal consequence of our sins (i.e., separation from God), it does not spare us the natural consequences of our sinful actions, which contribute to fragmentation of the world and violate the Church’s communion.

You might well ask, “Is there a spiritual remedy for the natural consequences of our sins?” To answer that question simply, Yes, the remedy is indulgences. While it is an important topic for perhaps another time, it is important to point out that seeking indulgences is not some outdated practice of the Church in former times. Seeking indulgences is still an important spiritual practice, even if an often misunderstood and neglected one. To explain in an oversimplified manner, by seeking indulgences, which amount to performing certain good works, we set about counteracting the bad effects of our sins, thus cooperating with God in setting the world to rights instead of contributing to our alienation from God, each other, and nature
Here is one more:
During the long period of Ordinary Time, which extends from the Solemnity of Corpus Christi to the Sunday before the Feast of Christ of King, we read the Gospel for any given year (this year it is St Matthew’s) in a semi-continuous way. I point this out because there is a tension between this week’s Gospel about our need to forgive without pre-set limits and last week’s Gospel about fraternal correction. It becomes obvious that there is a balance to be struck. Striking such balances is what we call prudence. In both cases, however, we are to seek the good of the offender, trying to bring about her/his repentance and conversion.
Program Note No later than 1 October, I am planning to return to blogging on a regular basis. I have a few posts ready-to-go. I hope to put those up this week. Call it my eleventh year sabbatical.

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