Following is my homily for Masses this weekend. I pray that it touches in you some way, that it helps to transform your life.
Peace and Blessings.
Readings: EX 3:1-8A, 13-15, 1 COR 10:1-6, 10-12, LK 13:1-9
In today’s Responsorial Psalm, we sing of the Lord being kind and merciful. We see this in our First Reading today from Exodus where God has helped to rescue the Israelites from their captivity. But, in the Second Reading, we hear of a less than merciful God because those He rescued continued their life of sin and turned away from everything that the Lord had promised them if only they would live a life that was good and pleasing to Him. Ultimately, He struck them down.
So, which is it? Is the Lord kind and merciful or is He this vengeful, hate-filled God? Of course, we all know the answer to that question. He is truly a kind and merciful Lord, one who is always there for us, to rescue us from our daily strife, to guide us down the path of goodness and righteousness. Maybe, just maybe, it is you and I who are not holding up our end of the deal.
In today’s Gospel, we are asked to repent. Just a few short weeks ago on Ash Wednesday, as you received ashes on your forehead, the minister prayed these words over you; “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” We have heard the word repent many times over the last few weeks in our readings and of course, we will hear it many more times as we continue our Lenten journey.
But how many of us have thought about it since Ash Wednesday? Have you and I given any thought about how we will transform ourselves during Lent? Help to transform the lives of others?
Jesus came for sinners and yes, we are all sinners and we need to repent. In Luke Chapter 5, Jesus reminds us that He did not come to the call the righteous but sinners. Sin is still sin regardless of who commits it and whether it is great or small. If you or I do not call ourselves sinners, then Jesus did not come for us. But if we consider ourselves sinners, we have a Savior, a healing presence in our lives, calling us to repentance. Repentance though is not just sorrow for sin. It is a turning around, a newness of life. It is a willingness to change our lives. In theological terms it is what we call metanoia; a transformation of our hearts.
We all need to be reminded of this truth, of the importance of repenting from our sins. We should also pray for the many people who haven’t come to Church today, who also need to hear this message about repentance.
As Catholics, we are blessed with a very clear and concrete way to repent, as often as we feel it is necessary. It’s called Reconciliation or Confession.
In the Sacrament of Confession, when we live it from the heart, we climb back into the arms of our heavenly Father, hiding nothing, freely admitting our need for Him. Confession opens our souls wide to receive Christ’s grace. It gives Him room to work in our lives. In Confession, Jesus purifies our hearts, heals our wounds, and enlightens our minds. Confession gives us the assurance of God’s forgiveness and grace that we need.
Confession is God’s gift to us, just as much as the Eucharist, and Baptism, and the Church itself.
- He wants us to make use of it.
- He wants it to be easy for us to come back to Him, to repent, to live, all the time, in communion with Him.
- He wants us to hear His words of forgiveness and encouragement not just in our imagination, but with our ears.
At the recent Men’s Conference in Tampa, I had the opportunity to see so many men go to Confession. It was a delight to behold and although I am sure that it was a long day for those priests who were hearing confessions, I am sure it brought joy to their hearts to see so many sinners coming to spend time with the Lord, asking for His forgiveness.
A gentleman sitting next to me, a convert to Catholicism, had not been to Confession in many years but, when one of the guest speakers challenged each one of us to free ourselves of those burdens we have been carrying, he stood, wasted no time and got in line to see one of the many priests present that day to hear Confession. You should have seen the smile on his face when he came back. I gave him a big hug and thanked him for what he had down. He inspired me to go to Confession and free myself from something that I had been holding on to for nearly 40 years. I know the power of repentance and forgiveness and then to be able to place my sins at the foot of His cross was beautiful and life-changing. After all, isn’t that what repentance is supposed to do? Help change our lives.
If any of us didn’t have a need for repentance, God wouldn’t have reminded us in our readings today how important repentance is. He is asking us to let Him make us happy, by repenting, by turning away from our sin and selfishness and turning back into His arms. In our weakness, Christ is present. In our emptiness, Christ dwells. The power of God is made perfect in us when we have nothing left to hold on to when we fully surrender ourselves when we finally admit how much we need God when we make a complete place for Christ in our hearts.
As we prepare ourselves to receive the gift of his Precious Body and Precious Blood today, as we look to transform ourselves during this Lenten season, let us remember that we are forever held in the heart of God, whose love knows neither limit nor condition. This is why Jesus came for each one of us. The healing He offers will change our lives if only we allow Him to do so.