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The Question of Mary Magdalene

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/04/21 at 12:00 AM

 

  •   While many modern scholars point out that there is no direct evidence that the sinful woman mentioned by St. Luke in our Gospel story today is St. Mary Magdalene, Pope St. Gregory the Great did recognize her as such.
  •   Further interpreting today’s Gospel passage, Pope St. Gregory also taught that the 7 devils exorcized from Mary Magdalene symbolized the 7 deadly sins.
  •   Thus when depicted in art, St. Mary Magdalene is often shown dressed as a penitent with the alabaster jar of perfumed ointment we hear about in the Gospel today.
  •   While scholars debate the true character of Mary Magdalene and whether or not she was a reformed prostitute, following the lead of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Church Tradition has always cast Mary Magdalene as the ideal penitent.
  •   While perhaps the sinful woman in today’s Gospel is not Mary Magdalene, I have no doubt that, as a saint, Mary Magdalene wept over her sins all the same. For outside of Our Lady, we are all sinners; we have all fallen short of the glory of God.
  •   In fact, being moved to the profound contrition we see in the sinful woman in today’s Gospel is part of becoming a saint. The closer we grow in likeness to our Lord, the more clearly we recognize the horror of our sins and desire to repent of them.
  •   The saints understood very acutely that there is no such thing as a small sin, but rather that all sin is a terrible injustice against our infinitely loveable and merciful God.
  •   But while man’s sinfulness is a sad reality, our readings today give us some measure of hope that even the worst of sinners can be reformed and live lives that glorify our Lord.
  •   In our first reading today, Nathan the prophet confronts King David about his sinfulness. And David was no ordinary sinner: he was both a murderer and an adulterer!
  •   Yet we see in the story of David, Uriah, and Bathsheba that conversion is possible, even for the worst of sinners, and that even the worst of sinners can receive God’s mercy.
  •   What we learn from this story is that none of us – no matter how we’ve been blessed and favored by God – is immune to sin. David was God’s anointed. He was chosen by God to be Israel’s leader, and yet he committed two of the gravest sins man can commit!
  •   The prophet Nathan reminds us so very clearly of how our sins offend the Lord, especially when we consider the blessings He has bestowed upon us. Nathan lists for David all the ways God has blessed him and then asks why he done evil in His sight.
  •   But more importantly, this story teaches us that if we confess our sins, as did David, God forgives – even the most serious of sins like murder and adultery.
  •   As we know by faith, there is no sin greater than God’s mercy, and to think that your sins are beyond God’s mercy is not humility, but the very worst form of pride – a pride that, if not corrected, can lead a soul to despair in this life and damnation in the next.
  •   Following Pope St. Gregory’s proposition that the sinful woman in the Gospel is St. Mary Magdalene, and given what we know about David’s life after this run‐in with Nathan, our readings today also teach us that the greatest sinner can become a great saint!
  •   This truth is one of the very beautiful paradoxes of our faith! While we may have to suffer the natural and destructive consequences of our sinful choices, when God forgives us He holds no grudges.
  •   Nor does He continue to judge us according to our sins once we’ve repented, as does the Pharisee with the sinful woman in our Gospel story. When we repent God forgives and forgets. Like the father of the Prodigal Son, He embraces us and showers us with love.
  •   But even though we may experience God’s mercy and love by repenting of our sins, sin nevertheless damages us – especially our mortal sins. This past Lent and Easter I spoke at length about the burdens of sin – of how sin damages us and our relationships.
  •   For this reason we should never willfully commit sin, presuming that we can go to confession afterwards and that all will be well. Sin damages us, and presuming upon God’s mercy without being fully contrite will leave us bereft of forgiveness.
  •   Yet the destructive and enslaving effects of sin need not last forever. Healing is possible with God’s grace, but our healing is contingent upon our response to our sins and the unfailing offer of God’s mercy.
  •   After being called out by Nathan, David repented in sackcloth and ashes, and while the child born of his adultery died because of his sin, Bathsheba eventually bore him another son and David’s kingdom prospered. More importantly, David became holy.
  •   The sinful woman in the Gospel is also a great example of true repentance. She knows that her sins are grave and she weeps over them. She makes reparation through a grand display of humility and love.
  •   In truth, God expects something similar from us. He expects us to humble ourselves and make reparation as best we can, especially for our grave sins.
  •   Last Sunday I mentioned how our Lord raises us to life from the death of sin through the grace of confession. I also mentioned how we should strive for perfect contrition, i.e., being sorry for our sins because they offend our Lord rather than being sorry because we fear the hell our sins merit.
  •   Along those same lines, I encourage you this week to consider how you confess your sins and how you do your penance. Do you prepare adequately before your confession, and are you brutally honest when you confess your sins – or do you make excuses for yourself as you confess and try to cast yourself in the best light?
  •   And when you do your penance, do you do it quickly so as to get it over with? Or are you deliberate, recollected, and loving toward our Lord?
  •   Moreover, if you have committed a particularly grave sin in your life like abortion, murder, adultery, sterilization, or a prolonged use of contraception, then I encourage you to consider making on‐going reparation for those sins.
  •   If you are sorry for the sin and have confessed it, be at peace with the knowledge that God has forgiven it. But out of a great love for God and gratitude for His mercy, make a grand gesture of your contrition.
  •   Praying the Rosary or Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day in reparation for your sins, making a significant donation to a charity, or regularly denying yourself things that you enjoy are all great ways to do this.
  •   Brothers and sisters, the sinful woman in today’s Gospel was forgiven much because she loved much. May we show our love for our Lord by making humble reparation for our sins.
  •   And may we trust that our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness will cover whatever sins we’ve committed in this life, no matter how grave they may be.

16 June 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

On the Mercy of God

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/04/21 at 12:00 AM

 

  • Today is an extraordinary day in the life of the Church, for today is Divine Mercy Sunday, and it is the day that two of our more recent popes: Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, are being canonized!
  • The canonization of Pope John Paul II today is especially important, for it was John Paul II who gave us this remarkable feast of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2000.
  • More remarkable even still, John Paul II died on the vigil of this feast in 2005, and he was beatified on this same feast day in 2011.
  • Many of you are familiar with St. Faustina, the Polish nun who received apparitions of our Lord Jesus in the 1930s. In these visions our Lord asked St. Faustina to spread a message around the world.
  • The message from our Lord was simple: that God’s mercy is deeper and richer and greater than any of us can ever imagine – and that it is available to all mankind, most especially the worst of sinners.
  • Jesus first appeared to St. Faustina in 1931, dressed in white and holding His left hand to His chest while holding His right hand as if giving a blessing – as can be seen in the Divine Mercy image.
  • From our Lord’s wounded chest flowed two rays: one of red, denoting blood; the other of a lighter shade, denoting water – just as flowed from His side pierced by the centurion’s lance. The pale ray stands for the water that makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood that is the life of souls.
  • Upon appearing to St. Faustina in this way, Jesus said to her: “These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who dwells in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.”
  • Jesus appeared to St. Faustina because He wants us to receive His mercy now while we are alive on earth, for after we die we must face His justice. And without His mercy, we will perish. Please understand: none of us will make it to Heaven on our own merits. His mercy is our only hope for Heaven.
  • Thus, Our Lord desired that this Sunday after Easter be consecrated to His Divine Mercy, and of this feast Jesus said to St. Faustina:
    I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Divine Mercy in My Soul, n. 699.)
  • If you’ve never taken the time to read St. Faustina’s Diary, which is called Divine Mercy in My Soul, I cannot recommend it highly enough to you. For in reading this diary, one is given a clear understanding of the great love our Lord has for all sinners – and how much He desires to give us sinners His mercy.
  • Truly, it’s one of the Church’s greatest spiritual treasures from the 20th century. Not only does it tell us of God’s incredible and inexhaustible mercy, but it also tells us how to live a life of mercy, to be merciful to others by treating them with true Christian charity.
  • In short, our Lord wants us to know that His love and mercy are greater than any sins we can ever commit. He wants us to know that He loves us no matter how great our sins may be.
  • Truly, Jesus is offering us more than just forgiveness for sins. He desires to give us incredible graces to heal and strengthen our souls from whatever spiritual maladies we may suffer from.
  • So today is a day of mercy for us. Thus, it is a day for miracles. I encourage all of you to take the time to consider the areas of your lives that are most in need of God’s mercy and healing and to ask for a miracle of mercy!
  • Furthermore, Jesus was emphatic with St. Faustina that this devotion to His Divine Mercy is important, because as He said to her: “You will prepare the world for My final coming. (DMIMS, n. 429).
  • That’s why today’s feast is so important. According to Saint Faustina’s diary, Jesus said of this feast day:
    I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity… tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near. (DMIMS, n. 965)
  • And so there is very definitely an urgency in Christ’s words to St. Faustina, an urgency that perhaps our Lord’s 2nd coming isn’t that far in the offing. So today is also a day to think about our sins and truly repent of them.
  • But even if the end of the world is still a long way away, we certainly never know when we will die. Any of us can be called to judgment at any time. So we must take advantage of the great graces being held out to us today!
  • In fact, any Catholic who attends Mass and receives Holy Communion today, goes to confession within 20 days, and offers prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father, may receive a plenary indulgence for the remission of sin.
  • As always, we should do these things “in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin.” (Apostolic Penitentiary Decree)
  • So that we might all take part in these graces, I ask all of you to please kneel and to reflect for a moment on your sins. Think as well on any areas of your life in which you need a miracle of mercy.
  • Together we will first recite An Act of Contrition, followed by an Our Father and the Creed, and the phrase “Jesus, I trust in You” three times. As we do, make a firm act of the will to reject all of your sins and repent of them. Confidently ask as well for any miracle of mercy you may need.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

No Ordinary Night

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/04/21 at 12:00 AM
  • Tonight is no ordinary night.
  • In the various readings from Sacred Scripture tonight, we have been reminded of thedramatic story of salvation history. We’ve heard of how our Lord created man and all ofcreation out of love.
  • We’ve learned the great lengths to which our Lord has gone throughout history to save usfrom eternal death, even being given a foreshadowing of His death on the cross in the storyof Abraham and Isaac.
  • Through the readings from the prophets, we’ve heard our Lord declare His undying love forus, and we’ve received His promise to be always with us, to provide for us, and ultimately tosave us, despite our sinful infidelity to Him.
  • And finally in the Gospel, we have peered into the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene andthe other Mary in search of Jesus. And tonight is the night that we find Him.
  • Tonight is no ordinary night.
  • Indeed, tonight four of you here are going to die. However, the death you will die is noordinary death, for it will not be your body that dies. Rather, you will die a spiritual death;you will die to sin.
  • The old man of sin, who has reigned within you up until this moment, will be crucified asyou are plunged into the life-giving waters of baptism.
  • Just as the Israelites passed through the waters of the Red Sea, and the evil Pharaoh and hislegions were drowned and washed away in those same waters, so too will every sin you’veever committed be washed away as you pass through the waters of baptism.
  • Afterwards, you will be clothed in a white garment as the outward sign of your newfounddignity. And the light of Christ will shine upon your soul, enlightening it with His truth, Hisgoodness, and His beauty.
  • Once you have passed through the sacred waters of baptism, you will join 5 others andtogether, the 9 of you will be strengthened by the Sacrament of Confirmation in order thatyou may live out your baptismal promises as good soldiers for Christ.
  • For all of you who receive it, the Sacrament of Confirmation will complete the good workbegun in you by the Sacrament of Baptism, and you will be given the grace to live ourCatholic faith with fidelity and courage.
  • But in His generosity, our Lord will not leave you on your own as you seek to practice yournewfound faith. Being a good shepherd, He feeds His flock with the best of foods.
  • As the Israelites were fed by our Lord during their years in the desert with manna, you, too,will receive the living bread that comes down from Heaven: the Eucharist, which will nourish and sustain you on your lifelong journey and complete your full incorporation into the Body of Christ!
  • Just as the Israelites of old covered the lintels of the doorways to their homes with the blood of the paschal lamb, so, too, will your lips – the entrance to the temple of your bodies – be covered with the Blood of Christ, who is the Lamb of God.
  • No, tonight is no ordinary night, for this is the most holy of nights. This is the night when Heaven is wedded to earth and man is reconciled with God! This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.
  • This is the night when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
  • This is the most blessed of all nights, a night chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead! It is the night that dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.
  • To be sure, this is the night when our faith is confirmed and our hopes are fulfilled, for this is the night of our very salvation.
  • And because this is no ordinary night, the grace that is being held out to all of us is extraordinary, for it is the grace to die to sin so that we might live in union with Jesus.
  • “Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.” And this we do simply by practicing our Catholic faith.
  • Being faithful to Mass and the Sacraments, praying daily, practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and following the teachings and traditions of the Church are all the ways we die to sin and live for God in Christ Jesus.
  • Doing all of this is not a demand made of us by God; it is a privilege extended to us. A privilege we should carry out with great love and humility, recognizing that all that we have and all that we are is a gift from God.
  • Tonight is no ordinary night. Tonight is the night of our salvation, which comes to us through the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
  • Let us embrace this beautiful Faith of ours and trust that in so doing, we will one day share in the joys of our Lord’s resurrection.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61