Unworthy But Loved

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2015/02/13 at 12:00 AM

My dear brothers and sisters, do you realize how much God loves you? Do you have any idea at all how much our Lord desires for you to be with Him in Heaven for all eternity?

Not only has He created us in His own image and likeness out of an act of love, not only does He sustain us in being throughout our lives, but He became one of us and died for us and because of us so that we might be saved.
And if that weren’t enough, He gives us Himself as real food and drink in the Eucharist, and throughout our lives He provides us with every grace we need to be saved.
Truly, Sacred Scripture is nothing else if not one long story of the love God has for man – unworthy of that love as we may be.
And even though we fall into sin daily – offending Him and separating ourselves from Him and His mystical body – He never ceases to call us back, extending His mercy to us whenever we show sorrow for our sins.
During this time of year, as we approach the holy and penitential season of Lent, Holy Mother Church prepares us by providing readings that focus on the nature of sin and its devastating consequences.
The purpose of these readings is to help us understand sin and its terrible consequences with the hope that we’ll seek ongoing conversion during Lent, and thereby be prepared properly for Easter.
In meditating on sin and its consequences, our readings today make a couple of very important points for us to consider. The first point is that sin separates us. The second point is that when we do separate ourselves through sin, God desires to reconcile with us.
Today’s readings make an analogy between sin and leprosy, teaching us that sin is really a most terrible illness. Now keep in mind that to the Israelites, leprosy wasn’t simply a terrible and disfiguring disease. It had a moral connotation as well.
Physical ailments and illnesses, especially leprosy, were seen as manifestations of evil or sin. They were often thought to be the result of divine punishment for sin and symbolized a lack of integrity or wholeness in the afflicted person.
Leprosy is also a good analogy for sin because not only did it cause the leper to be separated from the community, but leprosy also deformed and disfigured its victims. Sin does the same thing! Sin disfigures our souls so that we become less of who we are called by God to be!
In short, sin makes us ugly.
The point that our Lord makes today to Moses and Aaron is that those who contract leprosymust live apart from the community. The spiritual symbolism of this statement is obvious,
because sin does the same thing: it separates us from God and from the Body of Christ.

This separation from God is really the saddest element of sin, and in the afterlife thecomplete and utter separation from God with no hope for reconciliation will be the most
hellish part of hell.

As we consider the afterlife, I think there are two things that will really surprise us all onJudgment Day: 1) how awful and offensive to God our sins really are (even those sin we
think are small and inconsequential), and 2) how incredibly merciful God really is.

We get a small taste of His mercy in the Gospel today. A leper – perhaps covered withhorrible sores and pustules – approaches Jesus, and in a moment of both bold faith and humble supplication, he begs to be made clean.
And moved with pity, Jesus stretches out His hand, touches him, and says: “I do will it. Be made clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Sadly, the newly cleansed leper didn’t obey our Lord’s request to keep this matter to himself, but rather he publicized it, making it much more difficult for Jesus to conduct His ministry.
Of course Jesus knew the leper would do this, but in His clemency He healed him all the same – showing forth just how merciful He truly is. And He’s the same with us!
Every time we come to Mass we say: “Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”
Whether we sense it or not, Jesus says to us: “I do will it. May your soul be healed!” Then He gives to us the perfect remedy for our souls: the Eucharist, which provides forgiveness for our venial sins and helps to strengthen us against future mortal sins.
And He does this knowing full well that we will all sin again by our own choice. Because of His great mercy, He never wearies of our infidelities.
But does that mean we have a license to sin at will? Of course not. To do so would be to commit the sin of presumption. No, brothers and sisters, our response to such goodness is to strive with all our might to be pleasing to God.
Our opening prayer today teaches us that God abides “in hearts that are just and true,” and therefore we must beg our Lord to fashion us by His grace into dwelling places pleasing to Him.
But while holiness comes through God’s grace, we must choose to cooperate, for God will not make us holy without our consent or without our personal effort.
Moreover, we must understand that holiness does not come about just through simple avoidance of sin. Holiness, my brothers and sisters, comes about through perseverance in prayer and in trying to live virtuously.
We become holy by humbly recognizing our sins and confessing them honestly. We become holy by turning away from our sins, and joining in communion with the Body of Christ. We become holy by earnestly seeking to do God’s will – as best we know it – and nothing else.
Thus, if we humbly approach our Lord, repent of our sins, and ask for forgiveness, God will give it to us. His deepest desire is that all of us be made clean from the stain of sin so that we can enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven! With God forgiveness is always readily available.
While some sins are certainly worse than others, there is no sin that God will not forgive. But in order for us to be forgiven, we must recognize that what we’ve done is wrong, be sorry about it, confess it completely, and try not to commit that sin again.
My dear friends, soon Lent will be upon us. As we prepare for this holy season, let us be conscious of our sins and seek God’s mercy. Like the leper in the Gospel today, let us ask God to make us clean, and let us trust that He will do it.
God loves us more than we can imagine, my brothers and sisters. Let us strive to live our lives in a way that shows just how much we love Him in return.
12 February 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

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

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