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St. Augustine

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/06/16 at 12:00 AM

 

  • On my left you can see our magnificent statue of St. Augustine, one of the Church’s greatest saints. St. Augustine was not only a great intellect, but his conversion story has consoled, encouraged, and inspired countless souls throughout the centuries.
  • While St. Augustine is one of history’s greatest theologians, no writing of his is more popular than his Confessions, the autobiographical book that details his conversion. It’s for this reason that our statue of him has him depicted holding the book of his Confessions.
  • Perhaps the popularity of this book stems from the fact that it reads almost like a love story. In it Augustine details the progression of his awareness of God’s love for him, and his response of love to God in return.
  • Truly, St. Augustine captures – perhaps better than any other spiritual writer in history – the dynamic of love that exists between our Lord and those souls who earnestly seek Him.
  • What we find in St. Augustine’s Confessions is that God is constantly reaching out in love to His creatures, to invite us to share in His divine life, if only we have the faith to see it.
  • Today’s feast of the Most Holy Trinity challenges us to see God’s love for us and to respond to Him in love by seeking holiness. The promise that our Lord makes to us in seeking holiness is that we will be joined with Him forever in Heaven in an eternal embrace of love.
  • Holiness is likeness to God, and becoming holy – becoming like God – is the primary challenge of every Christian and the goal to which every vocation is ultimately directed.
  • While holiness is difficult to attain, it is possible for us all. Its genesis within us is the love that we have for God. The good news is that we have plenty of reasons to love God, as our readings point out for us today.
  • In our first reading Moses is explaining to the Israelites why they should believe in God. He’s challenging them to choose God and His ways because the mighty works God has worked for them should make it evident that God has chosen them as His people!
  • Moses’ point is that God has reached out to the Israelites in marvelous, even miraculous ways. For this reason he exhorts the Israelites obey God’s laws.
  • The same is true for us! Like the Israelites of old, we have become God’s chosen people through baptism. Through baptism we share in the life of the Blessed Trinity here on earth as a means of preparing for sharing in the life of the Trinity eternally in Heaven.
  • So baptism is so very important, and that’s why we hear our Lord commanding the apostles in the Gospel today to go out and evangelize the nations by baptizing them in the name of the Trinity.
  • In our second reading St. Paul explains to the Romans how God has chosen us to be His adopted children. While we are all born in the darkness of sin, baptism washes our original sin away so that we might be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
  • As His children we are heirs of God the Father with Christ, and the inheritance that our Lord desires to share with us is the love that exists between the three Persons of the Trinity! Complete and endless joy in the eternity of Heaven is His promise to us.
  • And thus it is that we should strive with all our might to obey God and follow His laws, for obedience is the foundation of the spiritual life and our preparation for holiness.
  • Indeed, we cannot ever expect to be holy, we cannot expect to be like God, if we do not follow the way He’s marked out for us.
  • I realize that this it often seems difficult to obey God’s laws, which are enshrined for us in the teachings of the Church. Generally speaking, even though the Church’s teachings are clear, there is great confusion in our society about what’s really right and wrong.
  • One of the secrets of the spiritual life is that obedience is often a precursor to understanding. When we choose to be obedient to the Lord and accept difficult teachings with faith and love, we are often graced with a deeper understanding of God’s laws.
  • The humility and docility that obedience requires of us has a way of opening our minds and hearts more fully to mysteries of our Faith, and thus we should learn to be obedient to all the teachings of the Church – even if at first blush we may not understand or agree with them.
  • Moreover, obedience makes us pleasing to God. Just like any parent, our Lord delights in all His creatures, but like any parent He delights in His children more when we behave!
  • So, we can make ourselves more pleasing to God by being obedient to His laws and by seeking to imitate Him in every way.
  • But there is more to holiness than mere obedience. In addition to being obedient, St. Paul tells us today that we must be willing to suffer, as did Christ.
  • Last Sunday I asked what it is that keeps you from being holy and from being wholly consumed by the Holy Spirit. The basic answer to that question is the same for all of us: attachments – to ourselves, to the things of this world, and in the worst case: to sin!
  • And that’s why St. Paul tells the Romans today that if they wish to be glorified with Christ, they must be willing to suffer with Him. Suffering, in whatever form it comes, has the capacity to cut away our attachments that keep us from being holy.
  • So if we wish to be like our Trinitarian Lord so that we might be joined with Him forever in Heaven, then not only must we obey, but we must be willing to follow the Master wherever He may trod – even up the difficult path to Calvary.
  • Loving obedience and a willingness to follow Jesus even to a point of suffering are the sure path to eternal union with the Most Holy Trinity in Heaven.
  • But in our Gospel today Jesus tells us that our union with Him, and thus our union with the Trinity, begins even now as He tells us that He is with us always! So, union with the Trinity is not only a goal for eternity, but can be a reality here and now.
  • We live in union with the Trinity now through prayer, but this union is still contingent upon our obedience and willingness to seek God’s will in all things.
  • As St. Augustine wrote in his Confessions, the Lord’s best servant: “is he who is intent not so much on hearing his petition answered, as rather on willing whatever he hears from [God].”
  • If we are to be conformed to God’s will, then at a minimum it is necessary that we strive with all our might to stay always in a state of grace. If we wish to grow in holiness, we must first eliminate all mortal sin from our life.
  • When we think of mortal sin, we tend to think of sins against the 6th and 9th commandments. While sins against chastity are indeed very grave, we must also bear in mind that sins against the virtue of charity can also be mortally sinful.
  • Sins by which we offend our Lord, like intentionally missing Mass or taking the Lord’s name in vain can be mortal sins, as can sins by which we offend those around us, like participating in gossip, detraction, or serious lies – so we must root out these sins, too.
  • Today’s feast of the Most Holy Trinity calls us to meditate on the great love our Lord has for us. Not only has He created us and given us everything, but He also became one of us to save us from our sins. He constantly reaches out to us to draw us to Himself.
  • Let us respond with true filial love and devotion by seeking genuine holiness so that we might be pleasing to Him.
  • Through holy obedience and a firm intention to follow His will, even to the point of suffering, let us prove our love for our Trinitarian Lord. And let us trust that when we die we will experience the joyful reward of our labors.
  • St. Augustine, pray for us.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

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

You can go directly to his homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

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