Monday, March 22, 2010

5th Sunday of Lent - homily

We just heard the story of the woman caught in adultery and the famous line from Jesus, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. Everyone there puts down their stones. But, you may not know the rest of the story. Someone from the back of the crowd threw a stone that landed near Jesus. Jesus looks around to see who could have thrown it, and then sees who it was and says, “Oh, Mom!”

Unfortunately, many Catholics think they are without sin. Many people have said to me over the years, “I don’t need to go to Confession, it’s not like I’ve killed someone or robbed a bank or anything”. This is an indication of a poorly formed conscience. I don’t blame these people only; it’s the role of the Church to inform people’s consciences. So, tonight, we will go through an examination of conscience just to make sure our consciences are all informed about specific sins. We’ll go through the ten commandments and the seven deadly sins, hitting the most relevant sins. This is the best way to prepare for Confession which you should all do before Easter.

The first commandment: “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have any other gods before me”. False gods would include people like boyfriends, girlfriends, celebrities, or things like money. Also, any involvement in the occult, witchcraft, ouija boards, tarot cards, palm readings are serious sins against the first commandment. Even taking horoscopes seriously is a sin.

The second commandment: “thou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”. People do this a lot more than they realize. OMG…hopefully, this means, “Oh my Goshhhh”, every time. If you say, ‘Oh my God’ regularly, make it a prayer: ‘Oh my God, I love you!”

The third commandment: “Keep holy the Sabbath”. I’m not trying to be funny, but the Sabbath is every Sunday! Some people think the Sabbath is every other Sunday or just once a month. The Christian Sabbath happens every Sunday. To give you further motivation for coming to Mass here and your whole lives every Sunday, the main reason we come to Mass is to receive the Eucharist. Jesus says that we need to receive the Eucharist in order to get to Heaven (John 6). We need to be at Mass to receive the Eucharist. When you have kids and they ask you, “Mommy, Daddy, why do we have to go to Mass every Sunday?”, you can tell them it’s so they will get to Heaven which is the most important thing in life. There’s nothing more important than getting to Heaven, so there’s nothing more important than getting to Mass on Sundays. Kids get it.

Getting drunk is a serious sin against the fifth commandment. It’s a form of killing yourself and the life God gave you. It causes harm to your body which is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The same goes with getting high and using drugs. Any participation in an abortion is grave sin. This would include recommending someone get an abortion, actively taking part in an abortion, voting for a pro-abortion politician, etc. Cutting or any attempt at suicide is grave sin.

The most confessed sins are those against the sixth commandment, “thou shall not commit adultery”. Any sexual act outside of marriage is serious sin…. heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual…any sexual act outside of marriage. Jesus puts unchastity (impure sexual sins) in the same category as murder, adultery, and theft (Mark 7). This is serious sin. The Catechism specifies some of these sins: fornication, pornography, and masturbation. Yes, masturbation is a sin. It abuses the beautiful and sacred gift of sex that God has given us by making it only for pleasure and self-gratification while objectifying people in the process. God makes it clear in the first book of the Bible that sex is for a husband and wife to unite as one flesh and to procreate. Along these lines, contraception is grave sin. Acts of contraception include using birth control pills (which often serve as abortifacients where the baby is conceived and then killed in the mother’s womb), diaphragms, and condoms (which are passed out on occasion on this campus…this both depresses and angers me at the same time). It’s not just the act of contraception that is so dangerous and harmful. It is the mentality. It is a very selfish mentality that says “me first”. That is one way to define all sin (“me first”), but especially with contraception. The person is saying, ‘I want this (sex) but I don’t want that (a kid)’. The Church has warned against the widespread use of contraception for a long time. Pope Paul VI predicted in Humane Vitae (the 1960s) that if contraception became widespread, then we would see the degradation of women increase (which has happened) and morality decrease across the board (which has happened). This was quite prophetic of our former pontiff.

Stealing, lying, cheating on tests, papers and taxes are all grave sins. Coveting what other people have in terms of physical or personal gifts or possessions are sins against the ninth and ten commandments. You should be happy with the life God has given you. There is no one else in the world like you. You are unique. God created you and ‘God don’t make junk’. You are beautiful, intelligent (my gosh, are you all smart), and good. You are good and you are loved.

The seven deadly sins: pride (I believe that pride is the root of all sin…again, this means selfishness, self-centeredness, ‘me first’), anger (the anger that leads to hate), gluttony (over-eating, over-drinking), greed (for money, power, success, popularity, etc.), sloth (laziness), envy, and lust. There are sins against the virtues, too. For example, sins against charity include gossip and being mean to people. Unfortunately, we have a problem within our own community of people being mean to their roommates. That is wrong and anti-Christian.

Now, most of what I’ve just gone through are serious sins…grave matter. If they are done with full knowledge (you know they are serious sins) and full consent (you freely choose to do them), then they are mortal sins. Mortal sins break our relationship with God and bring darkness to our souls. Anyone who dies in a state of mortal sin goes to Hell. If we have committed a mortal sin, we need to go to Confession. One of the main reasons Jesus has given us the sacrament of Confession is to keep us out of Hell. Keep in mind that receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is a mortal sin. My reminder at Communion every time is basically saying that we need to be in a state of grace to receive our Lord. If you’re not in a state of grace because of serious sin, please respect the Eucharist and don’t receive until you go to Confession.

Finally, if you are overcome with guilt right now, please think of the woman caught in adultery. She had committed the most serious sin at that time. In just a few moments, Jesus wiped out her serious sin and set her free. She was right with God and the Church in just a matter of moments. Yes, she had been embarrassed. Totally embarrassed. But, that lasted just a few moments. She left there and her sins were wiped out. That is the same opportunity you have with Confession. In just a matter of moments tonight or sometime before Easter, any and all of your sins will be wiped away by Christ through me or another priest. You will be right with God and the Church! You will be freed of your sins and guilt! And, you will hear the words from Christ that the woman heard which express his great and merciful love for you: “I don’t condemn you…go and sin no more”.

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