Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fourth Sunday of LentB: "Polluting the Lord's temple" through sin, man and woman discover joy and mercy in Jesus Christ "lifted up" on the Cross

The "polluting of the Lord's temple" through the abasement of the human person is rampant in our world today, where what is a perversion of human dignity is praised and promoted, such as abortion through the HHS mandate.

Incidents in the "temples" which are our churches and the sins of hatred and intolerance in society reveal a world in conflict with God and His law. The phenomenon of the imprisonment and enslavement of human persons, in particular young people, has become more visible to millions of people through the Kony video which has been viewed many millions of times.

Also, we who are Catholic, are becoming more and more aware that there is now a massive societal movement underway on a number of fronts by committees, individuals and governments to declare Catholic faith and life illegal and to demand that the Catholic Church continually redefine itself down to accommodate whatever demands by whomever, wherever and whenever. A woman who does not agree with God's plan for marriage between one man and one woman has demanded the removal from the Catechism of a paragraph that she deems personally offensive. Another woman recent;y approached a priest in the sacristy prior to her mother's funeral Mass to reveal that she was living a sinful life and approached him for Communion at the Mass although he had asked her not to do so. His decision to refuse the Sacrament has caused suffering for him and for the Church when it appears that he was trying to do the right thing by God.

The world still flirts with and falls in love with sin, attempting to substitute the worship of idolatry in place of Jesus Christ who is the Sole savior. Jesus Christ lifted up on the Cross is the answer to the sins of man and woman that prevent their salvation.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him."

What does it mean to "believe in Jesus Christ"? We have already learned that two steps are necessary in order to make a beginning in the way of Jesus Christ. The first of these is repentance for sin. Repentance, true sorrow for sin, requires an honest assessment of our lives in the light of God's holiness made visible in Jesus Christ and sorrow for the ways in which our lives are in conflict with Jesus Christ's example.

"The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man."(CCC 1989)

Repentance of the heart and mind is expressed outwardly in conversion, a "turning" away from sin and what leads to sin and a turning toward the Lord and holiness of life. Baptism is the first step through God's initiative.

But how do we persevere in the way of conversion which enables us to lead a life of repentance through holiness? We do this in the Church of Jesus Christ which is the place of faith where Jesus Christ Himself guides and directs us, as baptized members of His Body.

It is in the Church that Jesus Christ is "lifted up" on His Cross for our salvation, in particular through the Church's liturgy of holy Mass. "The Church's faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles - whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi (or: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, according to Prosper of Aquitaine [5th cent.]). The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition." (CCC 1124)

Simply by celebrating and living the sacramental life, beginning with Baptism which is the door to the other Sacraments, we live as Jesus' Body, to the praise of God's glory.

Thus it may be said of us "But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God".

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