Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Homily Fourth Sunday of Lent 22 March 2009

At sporting events and concerts, we often see people carrying large signs
that simply read “John 3:16.”
It happens often enough that it has become an American stereotypical image,
something we joke about and include in parodies.

Far from being simply humorous, however, this grassroots evangelization
draws our attention to one of the most beloved and significant passages
in the Scriptures, and also a passage from today’s Gospel.

“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.”

All the trials of His human journey…all the agony of the Passion…
Jesus endured so that we might have eternal life.

Recently I had a dialogue with someone, which made me ponder a question
I had previously taken for granted.
I had said that, for me at least, I cannot live without daily prayer with Jesus.
What I had presumed was a certain definition of what to means to live.

Obviously, many people get by living in the biological sense every day
all the while never taking time to pray or even remaining atheists.

Life for many is a series of empty routines, devoid of substance or fulfillment.
Cardinal John Henry Newman once wrote that
“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

To truly live…in the fullest sense…is to change, grow, and mature…
in our humanity, our relationships, and in our devotion to God.

The more often we change and grow, the closer we become to God,
and thus the more fully alive we are – living in his grace.

Eternal life is the perfection and culmination of this process of change.

As we pray in the preface of funeral Masses,
“Lord, for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended.
When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death,
we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”

Eternal life is perfect union with God,
union which is begun and lived in an imperfect though real way,
as we open ourselves to God’s transforming grace even now.

We struggle by our prayer and humble efforts to change, grow and mature,
turning from sin to a life of grace,
so that we might inherit the kingdom prepared for us:
the kingdom where all earthly sorrow and sin
is completely changed into eternal love and happiness.

For this Jesus came into the world and for this He died:
that we might see in His Cross the perfect image of how we are to live
in this passing world
and that by the merits of His passion we might receive eternal life
in the world that knows no end.

As we continue our Lenten journey,
seeing in the Ten Commandments the guide to a holy life,
we consider how our lives
have contributed to the life and growth of others.

God’s Fifth Commandment is “You shall not kill.”

It is self-evident for the Christian that human life is intrinsically sacred.

God created us, not to fulfill a need of His own, but in an act of pure love,
and He remains the Lord and creator of all life.

As God’s beloved sons and daughters, created in His divine image,
the lives of human persons have an inherent dignity that must not be violated.

The murder of innocent life, young or elderly, born or unborn, healthy or infirm,
rich or poor, deemed useful by society’s standards or otherwise,
is in every circumstance morally unacceptable
and contrary to the dignity of the human person.

Jesus, who came not to abolish but to fulfill the ancient law,
offered a more extensive application of this commandment,
when He said:

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
'You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.'
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment...”

While most of us at least will never take a human life in murder,
we quite commonly violate the fifth commandment
by our anger, vengeance, hatred, and lack of concern for others.

We are called to love our enemies, to pray for them, and to seek reconciliation.

We ought never hold grudges or seek occasion to get back at someone
for the hurt they caused us.

We ought always consider what is valuable and meaningful to another
before allowing our selfish actions and words to kill another in spirit.

The dignity of the human person
demands that the mental, physical and emotional health of others in our lives
be a serious concern to which we respond in genuine love.

Causing harm to our bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit,
by the abuse of drugs, alcohol, or any gluttonous excess
is a sinful disregard for the beautiful person God has created us to be.

God’s Eighth Commandment is
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

This commandment is more than perjury and lying while under an oath.
It forbids the misrepresentation of truth in any way in our relations with others.

God is the source of all truth,
and as His children we are called to live in accord with His truth,
especially the truths of faith revealed in scripture and Church Tradition.

Honesty, discretion, integrity and sincerity are all marks of a person
who has come to know Christ and to live in accord with His divine plan.

Manipulation, lying, twisting the truth to protect ourselves,
spreading gossip and revealing privileged information,
slander and rash judgments about others,
all betray a lack of fidelity to God
and undermine the human community.

What is more, just because something is true does not mean we should repeat it.

Calumny is harming of another’s reputation by spreading lies,
and detraction is spreading failures of another, even though they are true,
in order to hurt them or promote ourselves.

Both are equally sinful because they attack the right we all possess to a good name.

In this holy season, we acknowledge before God
all the ways in which we have harmed others
by our destructive actions and misrepresentations of truth.

In confidence we seek forgiveness.
In humility we continue to grow, change and mature,
that we may draw closer to God
living always in hope that we shall reign with Him forever in glory!

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