Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Homily 22nd Sunday of the Year 30 August 2009

Most of us at least…adults and children alike…
have witnessed the clever cover-ups of young children
when they try to evade responsibility and punishment
for something they sense will get them into trouble.

We can relate to the scene of a little boy
who retrieves two cookies from the jar, carefully pours a glass of grape juice
and tip-toes gingerly into the living room,
across the family’s brand new white carpet,
the juice sloshing from side-to-side in the glass the whole way.

The moment he reaches his favorite spot on the couch
and prepares to set his juice and cookies on the end table,
the sloshing has reached its highest pace
and juice cascades over the edge into a small pool on the floor.

Panicking, the little boy sets his treats aside on another table
and begins to rub the spot as best he can with the tail of his shirt.

When this proves unsuccessful,
he struggles to slide the end table over the spot to cover his mess.

At last, he sits down with his juice and cookies, thinking all is well,
until of course dad comes in,
wondering why the end table is out in front of the couch!
Such attempts at evasion are adorable…but rarely successful!

Ironically, some of us try the same tactics as adults.
Sometimes we think that we can cover up our messes,
and hide our weaknesses from others, even from God,
by making everything look good on the outside.

Our clever attempts to cover up our stains and evade God’s detection
are of no use,
for God sees through them to our inward thoughts.

The hypocritical Pharisees receive a precise reprimand from Jesus
because they criticize the disciples
for not observing the many rituals of external purification
while they themselves harbor evil thoughts in their hearts.

They honor God with externals but their hearts are far from the Lord, Jesus says,
and they replace the doctrines of God with human precepts.

The try to cover up their interior mess
by making everything look good on the outside.

God calls us to purity of heart, as the 6th Beatitude declares:
“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”

Purity of heart means that the outward actions of our lives
and the inward thoughts of our hearts are in sync with one another.
The person who is pure of heart has attuned his mind and will
to the promoting of the Holy Spirit
and the demands of God’s holiness.

Instead of attempting to evade God’s detection,
the person who is pure of heart
stands honestly before the Lord
and hands even the most vulnerable part of his being to God,
that it too may be purified, in His service and for His glory.

Rather than making worship and prayer a cover for inward stain,
the pure of heart knows that God sees through to his inward thoughts
and desires his whole life to be a consistent living sacrifice of praise.

We become ever more pure of heart
as we strive for purity of mind and body,
fervent love of neighbor,
and complete acceptance of the faith of Jesus Christ.

When our hearts are open to being purified, we come before the Lord in truth
and our worship has tremendous value
because it is then an outward reflection of an inward love.

What is more, when we strive for purity of heart,
our visible service to God and neighbor
takes on a whole new level of meaning and effectiveness.

If we are purified inside,
we can then be truly effective in fulfilling the call of St. James
to be “doers of the word”
for we bring not ourselves but Christ to others!

When our inward thoughts are in union with our outward actions,
and when all is in union with the love of God,
the value of our living worship is beyond compare.

There is no doubt that we are weak, that we falter and fail.

God calls us not to pull the table over the spill,
not to hide our faults or cover our inconsistencies with a pleasant façade.

Instead, He invites us to admit our weaknesses and purify our desires,
to hand over our inward selves to His purifying love.

Our Heavenly Father will put to use the cleansing power of His mercy
to scrub away the stains
and make us by His grace pure servants of His truth.

Freed from the burden of trying to cover up our stains,
filled with the peace that comes from living in union with God,
we will stand as radiant lights,
calling all people to the truth and love of Jesus Christ!

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