Christian’s Life

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/06/09 at 12:00 AM
  • Chartres Cathedral just outside of Paris is often called the most beautiful church in the world. While there are many, many notable architectural and artistic elements in this church that make it so beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful element is the stained glass windows.
  • Vivid in color and simply magnificent in design, the windows detail the lives of prophets and saints as well as the entire story of our salvation history. In the beauty of these windows, we see the beauty of all that God has done for mankind, despite our sinfulness.
  • In the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, our Lord speaks of all the good things He has done for Cyrus. Cyrus was a Persian king whom our Lord used to help liberate the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity in the 6th century B.C.
  • In 539 BC King Cyrus and his Persian army captured Babylon from the Chaldeans, and soon thereafter he wrote a decree liberating all the foreigners who had been captured by the Chaldeans, and this included the Israelites, who had been in Babylon for roughly 70 years.
  • In speaking of Cyrus in the first reading, our Lord talks about holding the right hand of Cyrus and of calling Cyrus by name. In His love and mercy, our Lord does the same thing with each of us, for our Lord’s grace is directed toward leading all people to Heaven.
  • In the first chapter of his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul speaks of all the blessings God the Father has bestowed on us in Christ, and St. Paul states that God has chosen us from before the foundation of the world.
  • In other words our Lord knows us, and He has known us for all eternity. God has called each of us – every single person – out of nothingness, and He has created us in His own image and likeness. Each individual human soul is a unique manifestation of God’s creativity and love.
  • Even though each person lives in a certain time and place in history, we have always – from all eternity – been in our Lord’s mind and heart. There was never a time when He did not know us or desire us to be.
  • And God has created us not simply to fulfill a particular vocation as a means of working out our salvation. He has an ideal in His mind of the person that He wants us to be. In His divine Providence, God desires each of us to grow toward this perfect image of ourselves.
  • Thus, the life of the Christian is one of striving toward the particular form of perfection that God wills for us. Our lives should be marked and shaped by striving for that holiness that God desires for each of us.
  • While the call to holiness is universal, how holiness is achieved and lived out by each of us varies in God’s providence. Thus it is that He calls us by name – that He calls each of us personally, individually.
  • Our readings today call us to meditate on God’s unfathomable goodness and to render unto Him some repayment for His goodness. While we can never truly repay God for His love and mercy, we should always strive to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.
  • This we do by truly striving for that holiness our Lord has marked out for us. We render unto God what belongs to Him by becoming that ideal person He has called each of us to be.
  • Alas, this is easier said than done! Even when we desire holiness and earnestly seek it, the lives of the saints show us that there are many obstacles and setbacks in our journey toward holiness. The greatest obstacle to becoming the holy people God has called us to be is sin.
  • Nothing prevents us from becoming holy, nothing is a greater setback to fulfilling God’s will than sin. Sin is a poison that infects us, impeding our spiritual health, and thereby limiting our capacity for holiness. Thus, we must avoid all sin by whatever means possible.
  • Even those small venial sins that we tend to think are meaningless and that we thoughtlessly commit poison us and seriously impede our growth in holiness.
  • Of course we are poisoned by sin through falling prey to temptation. Temptation can enter our lives in a couple of ways. Temptation may come through our own human weakness and sinful proclivities.
  • Each of us has particular root sins that we often commit. Of the 7 deadly sins, each of us has one or two that we specialize in and that are the root for most of the sins we commit.
  • Many times we fall into sin simply because of defects of character. Our temperaments and the faults that we have neglected to correct within ourselves can make us prone to fall into certain temptations.
  • But we must never forget as well that there is a tempter, an adversary, who in the words of St. Peter is “prowling like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (cf. 1 Peter 5:8-9). I’m speaking, of course, of the devil, satan, who is as real as you and me.
  • And not only is the devil real, but in his absolute hatred of God, he seeks to lead into perdition man, whom God has created for Himself.
  • Throughout the course of our lives the devil studies us so that he can know the best ways to tempt us. He constantly sets snares for us and looks for the most opportune moments to slyly and shrewdly tempt us to sin.
  • Satan’s ultimate goal is to turn us away from God so that we will refuse God’s mercy and love and thereby condemn ourselves to an eternity in hell.
  • But while satan’s power is considerable and must never be underestimated, we should never think for a moment that he is more powerful than God! Nor should we ever believe that God ever leaves us alone in our struggle against satan.
  • In addition to His grace, most especially the graces we receive in the sacraments, our Lord has given us a most powerful weapon in our combat with the devil: His Immaculate Mother.
  • In our chapel we have the beautiful painting of Mary as the Immaculate Conception. Arrayed with the sun and crowned with 12 stars, with the moon under her feet, Mary is depicted with her foot upon the head of the ancient serpent as a sign of her power over him.
  • While our Lady does not take the place of her Son in the struggle against the devil, Mary is His weapon of choice! Indeed, other than our Lord Himself, Mary is the only human satan has never seduced for even the slightest moment.
  • And in her maternal love, Mary works to protect and tear away from the evil one every soul entrusted to her by God. While our fallen human nature is prone to sin, with the help of Our Lady, falling prey to temptation does not have to be inevitable in any situation.
  • When we call on her in times of trouble, Mary is swift to intercede, procuring for us every grace we need to conquer our temptations and rid ourselves of sin. And in the beauty of her holiness, we find the singular example of one who perfectly fulfilled God’s will for her life.
  • During this month of October in which we honor in a particular way the Holy Rosary, we are called and encouraged by the Church not only to seek Our Lady’s intercession in times of need, but to imitate her and entrust ourselves completely to her maternal care.
  • Indeed, if we receive Our Lady into our hearts and entrust to her our struggle to grow toward Christian perfection, Mary will never allow the evil one to harm us nor his seductions to lead us astray.
  • O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

© 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.

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