Awareness of the Season

In 13 Today's Church on 2016/02/06 at 12:00 AM
  • Amongst the treasury of prayers and devotions that has been passed on through our beautiful Catholic faith is a simple prayer called “The Act of Charity.”
  • “O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.”
  • This is a beautiful prayer because not only does it express our love for God and for our neighbors, but it also teaches us to ask for and extend forgiveness whenever necessary.
  • Thus, in three short sentences, this prayer helps us to cut to the heart of what it means to live a Christian life, and by praying it well we actually prepare ourselves for Heaven.
  • This Sunday, which in the ancient Church calendar is known as Quinquagesima Sunday, is the last of the triptych of Sundays that prepares us for the penitential season of Lent.
  • This coming Wednesday we will enter into the desert of Lent as we sign ourselves with ashes that recognize our mortality and symbolize our repentance.
  • But Lent, too, is really nothing more than a preparatory period, and not just for the glories of Easter. Ultimately, the season is Lent is a preparation for Heaven.
  • Because we associate Lent with prayer, fasting, penance, and alms giving, so many of us approach it with some measure of annoyance or even dread.
  • But we must remember that we take on these spiritual acts not for their own sake, but for the purpose of growing in holiness so that ultimately we can go to Heaven. Lent should help us grow in holiness by increasing of love for God and our neighbor.
  • Last week on Sexagesima Sunday we were reminded that we cannot serve both God and mammon. Last Sunday’s readings exhorted us to be detached from worldly things so that we can be whole‐hearted in our love for God.
  • And the week before on Septuagesima Sunday we were encouraged to be holy and perfect as God is holy and perfect, which we accomplish by learning to love as God loves: unconditionally, and with a constant willingness to forgive.
  • These three Sundays focus our attention on love, and truly, my brothers and sisters, we cannot underestimate the importance of this virtue.
  • Love is the measure by which we will be judged on Judgment Day. When at the end of our lives we see God face to face, the over‐arching question He will ask us is this: “How well did you love me?”
  • You see, my brothers and sisters, being in Heaven requires a capacity to love, for God is Love, and Heaven is nothing more than being perfectly united with God, Who is Love, for all eternity.
  • The greater our capacity to love while we live on earth, the greater our joy will be in Heaven – and the greater our glory will be as well.
  • Our love for God is measured most accurately not by warm feelings or sentiments. Our love for God is best measured by obedience to His will, by whole‐heartedly accepting, obeying, and loving His commandments.
  • Our first reading speaks about this as Moses tells the Israelites that they will be blessed if they are obedient to the commandments of the Lord, and that they will be cursed if they are not obedient. And the same is true for us.
  • Ifwewishtogrowinholinessandlivealifeofpeace–ifwewishtobesaved–thenwe must be willing to listen to God and be obedient to His commands. There is no way that we can get around this very stark fact of the spiritual life.
  • Jesus makes the same point in the Gospel today when He tells His disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
  • Indeed, according to St. John the Evangelist, obedience to God’s law is proof that the love of God has been made perfect within us, for as he wrote in his first epistle:
  • “The way we may be sure that we know [God] is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps [God’s] word, the love of God is truly perfected within him” (cf. I John 2:3‐5).
  • In a society like ours that prizes its personal freedom, obedience is often a dirty word because we believe that it will limit our freedom.
  • Yet the only thing that obedience limits is our own self‐centeredness. Obedience only limits the misuse of our freedom, which only leads to spiritual slavery.
  • In truth, when it comes to the moral life obedience is our best friend, because it is our obedience to God and to His Church that helps us cultivate the necessary disposition within our souls to receive His grace so that we might be saved.
  • You see, my friends, we all stand as beggars before God. On our own we can never hope to be saved, for as St. Paul reminds us today, “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.”
  • And thus it is only through the grace of Christ that we can hope to be saved. The good news is that Jesus freely bestows that grace upon us, most especially through the sacraments.
  • But we must be docile enough to receive His grace and to act upon it. And it is obedience that nurtures the virtue of docility within us so that we can truly love God whole‐heartedly.
  • This Lent let us strive to love God above all things by whole‐heartedly embracing His commandments and choosing His will over our own. And let us trust that in learning to do so, we will be preparing ourselves for Heaven!

© 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.

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