Holy Mass by Fr Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/03/10 at 9:11 AM

 • According to Aristotle the highest good or the greatest joy to which man can aspire is achieved in the contemplation of God, which requires the most excellent and virtuous use of that most important human faculty: reason.

• Indeed, Aristotle taught that the natural end for which man was created is the contemplation of God, which is a remarkably Catholic notion for a pagan philosopher who was born almost 400 years before Jesus Christ.

• Throughout our history Holy Mother Church has always encouraged her children to devoutly employ the gift of reason to contemplate God and the invisible realities that constitute the very beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith. That’s why we have the Sabbath!

• The third commandment reminds us to keep holy the Sabbath. It is a day of solemn rest that is holy to the Lord. According to the Catechism, the Sabbath is meant to bring everyday work to a halt so that we might have a respite.

• The Sabbath, which we Christians celebrate on Sunday, provides time for recreation and leisure that not only gives rest, but that also renders us more capable of meditating on God. And this produces joy within us.

• You see, my friends, because we have been created as eternal creatures, because we are created to live eternally with God, we all desire something that is eternal and true.

• Contemplating our Lord gives us a foretaste of the eternity we all desire in the depths of our souls, and thus it produces joy. And living a life of joy is the vocation of every Christian.

• As the prophet Nehemiah tells us in the first reading today: “Today is the holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep, . . . for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.”

• Moreover, when we turn to today’s Gospel, we hear our Lord proclaiming His message of glad tidings, a message of joy.

• Since the beginning of the Christmas Season, I’ve been speaking about how Jesus has revealed Himself to us through human history, how our Lord has pulled back the veil that separates heaven and earth in order to reveal His power, glory, and ultimately His mercy.

• In today’s Gospel He reveals Himself not through a miracle but simply through His joyful words. Jesus tells us that He has been anointed “to bring glad tidings to the poor”, “to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

• In other words, Jesus has come to bring joy to the world, and as His faithful followers, we are called to do the same thing! We are to be living witnesses and examples of the joy of Christ.

• Now let us understand something before we proceed any further: the Christian sense of joy is not to be reduced to or confused with simple human happiness. Human happiness is an emotion that is transitory and fleeting, but true Christian joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and a gift from God.

• Christian joy does not depend on one’s circumstances. Rather, it is supernatural in nature. While we can “feel” joy, it is ultimately something that we choose to participate in. It is a deep and abiding sense of peace that comes from choosing to exercise faith and hope in God.

• Because joy is something that we choose, because it is a particular orientation of one’s mind and heart, Christian joy can and should be found even in the midst of suffering.

• In fact, one of the curiosities of Christianity is that the more Christ-like we become, the more we rejoice in suffering because suffering is one of the greatest ways we can become even more Christ-like. Many of the lives of the saints attest to this fact.

• Now I mentioned earlier that joy is a benefit of observing the Sabbath day. But at the very heart of observing the Sabbath and contemplating God, of course, is our participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

• Thus, keeping your Sunday obligation to attend Mass is part of the basis of living a life of true joy. This is because “participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church” (CCC2182).

• When we come together like this as a parish community, we give witness to our communion in faith and charity. We testify to God’s holiness and our hope of salvation. And we strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (cf. CCC 2182).

• This is the very foundation of our Christian joy! Worshipping our Lord together and contemplating the divine mysteries at Mass brings us into our Lord’s presence. It is how we come into contact with that which is eternal.

• It is at Mass that we hear our Lord speak to us through the Scriptures (and hopefully the homily). It is at Mass that we witness His life-giving sacrifice on Calvary to save us from our sins.

• And it is at Mass that our Lord feeds us with His Body and Blood in Holy Communion so that we may experience His resurrection.

• Thus, Holy Mother Church requires us participate in Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. Unless we are excused for a grave reason, such as illness or the care of infants, intentionally missing Mass on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation is a grave sin.

• And the Church has handed down this rule to us not to make life more difficult, but because She desperately wants us to receive these manifold graces that are available to us only at Mass!

• Holy Mother Church obliges us to go to Mass so that we can experience the true Christian joy that can only be found in contemplating our Lord and the beautiful mysteries of our Catholic faith.

• So I urge you, my friends, make Sunday Mass your highest priority each week. And do it not simply because you dread the loss of heaven and fear the pains of hell, but because you love God, because you want to contemplate Him, because you want to live a life of true joy.

• My friends, true Christian joy – our ability to rejoice at all times – is our vocation and our testimony to who Christ is. It is a sign of God’s almighty power at work in a dark world and of our trust and hope in Him.

• As we are gathered together here for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, let us all pray that we may receive worthily the grace of true Christian joy and live it faithfully in the world.

• May our lives be a reflection of the eternal joy we hope to experience with our Lord in Heaven. And may the joy that we live be a means of drawing more souls to our Lord’s Kingdom.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC


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