Fear of the Lord, a dread of offending our beloved creator, is only the beginning of wisdom, and true fear of the Lord leads not to paralysis but to freedom and great love. But the fear that seems so predominant in the world today is not the fear of the Lord. Rather, it seems to bring mistrust and doubt, skepticism, rumors, dissension. It causes us to try harder and harder to gain control of things we cannot control, and can cause us not to act at all or to not act as we should for fear of the unknown.
There is a great consolation in the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary remained on earth for many years after her divine Son returned to heaven having accomplished His mission to reunite man and God to save us from our sins. Mary remained – she endured the sadness and the suffering of this world. We all have sadness and suffering, and we have a mother who knows what we’re going through herself, having known God like no other. She remained for many reasons. While her biological Son had gone to heaven, she had other children to care for, spiritual children.
Things are real. Truth exists. And we have to recognize that fact and live within that reality or things will not go well. When we partake of the body of Christ, the son of God, in the Eucharist, we become more closely united to God the Father than we are to our own human father. This is a fact, and if we do not recognize it, things cannot go well with us. The more we are aware of this fact – study it, dwell on it, contemplate it, live it – the more everything else will make sense to us. God’s life in us is the central reality of creation. It is the point of creation.
What was it that Adam did? He severed the bond between God and man – he cut us off from our Father. And how did Christ restore this loss? Yes, he paid our debt, made up for our disobedience by giving His life in a perfect act of obedience to His Heavenly Father. But if that was all that was done, why would the church proclaim at the Easter Vigil, “O felix culpa” O happy fault that merited such a redeemer. In order for Adam’s sin to be called a happy fault, the repair of that fault must have brought us something that we did not have before, and something better than what we had before. What can that possibly be? I can think of only one thing: the Eucharist.
The purpose of this sermon, therefore, is to encourage devotion to the Eucharist as a means of restoring our idea of fatherhood. For by the Eucharist we participate in the life of our Heavenly Father.
Our Lord and Savior on the cross expresses his perfect faith and confidence in His Father when he says, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” So too we take today’s gospel passage [Mark 8:1-9 – miracle of the loaves and fishes], an account of an actual event that is given, but we also take it to what it points towards, much more than what is told to us today. These people followed Jesus out to a place with no food and so trusted Him that they failed to make provisions for themselves. They trusted that He would take care of them, the same trust that our Lord exhibits in His Heavenly Father from the cross. Do we have such faith and trust in our Heavenly Father as those who sought our Lord in the desert?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Here under the appearances of bread and wine is the creator of the universe, He who has always existed, who has never not existed, He whose nature it is to exist. Here He is in the Eucharist, for us, because that is the best way that God himself could find to be with us.
When Man creates things that are disordered and ugly, those things are not a reflection of Man but rather of Man’s disorder, Man’s brokenness. But in God there is no disorder, and therefore it would be repugnant to God to create that which is not beautiful, for the creation reflects the creator just as the art reflects the artist. And in this case, the creator is not just beautiful but is beauty itself.
All of creation and everything in creation is a reflection of God in some way, some aspects of God. On Trinity Sunday, we consider one part of God’s creation which reflects in a particular way that God is a Trinity, and then we will see some practical consequences that that ought to have for us. That particular aspect of God’s creation that we are talking about is marriage.
Fraternal correction is a private admonition, given to another out of charity, in an endeavor to withdraw him from sin or from danger of sin. Let’s look at when we can and should make fraternal correction, and then we will look at some times when we should not.
Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
– by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
– by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
– by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
– by protecting evil-doers.
Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. “Structures of sin” are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a “social sin.”
All sin, even the inclination to sin. It is the flesh against the spirit, the children of the flesh against the children of the spirit. Sometimes we lose site of that, and we think in terms of mortal sin only, not realizing how important it is to break also the hold that venial sins can have upon us.
In the Catetchism of the Catholic Church, it states, “Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. ‘Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness.’ [St. Augustine states] “While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light”: if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope?” [§1863]