Third Sunday, Ordinary Time
Cycle “A” – 2020
A man asked his wife why she always carried his picture when she went to the office.
“Well, dear,” she said, “When there’s a big problem and I feel really scared, I just look at your picture and the problem disappears.”
The man got all puffed up and said: “Wow, honey, am I that powerful for you?”
“Oh, yes, dear,” said his wife. “I just look at your picture and say to myself, ‘Don’t be afraid. NO PROBLEM could possibly be any worse that THAT one!’”
The world is full of things that can rouse our fears, but few are as frightening as stepping into our own inner darkness – that ever-expanding place where we’ve HIDDEN so many of our deepest thoughts, feelings and choices. So much of us is a secret even to ourselves, and we’d prefer to leave things just as they are – BUT STEPPING INTO OUR OWN INNER DARKNESS – is exactly where Jesus is inviting us to go (tonight/this morning)!
Now we all know, about the darkness of false guilt – (the heart pains that don’t and shouldn’t belong to us, and that probably belong to somebody else, or maybe to nobody else) – like when we call that “special somebody” only to be asked, “Why don’t you ever call me?” (That’s about control – not conscience; so IGNORE IT!) — And the same goes for those anxious feelings that some people get whenever they start enjoying themselves! — (For better or worse, that phenomena has been labeled: “Catholic Guilt”!) – But, it has nothing to do with God or with being Catholic! — And, it, too, is about CONTROL; so you can IGNORE THAT as well!
However, there is such a thing as AUTHENTIC GUILT – (that anguish that comes from honestly recognizing THE DARKNESS of our very REAL SINS and MISTAKES, and the sense of remorse that comes from seeing the DAMAGE we’ve caused INSIDE OURSELVES, TO THOSE AROUND US, and TO OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR GOOD LORD! — FACED WITH “AUTHENTIC GUILT” – our soul tells us: “YOU’VE DONE WRONG, AND YOU’VE GOT TO FIX IT! Because, YOU’LL NEVER BE FREE UNTIL YOU DO!”
In the case of “AUTHENTIC GUILT” – our SOUL is simply telling us the TRUTH! — We may try to drown its voice in DENIAL, or frenetic ACTIVITY, or in VARIOUS SUBSTANCES of choice; BUT we’ll never have peace UNTIL we ANSWER TRUTH’S CALL and ACT!
In today’s Gospel, St. Matthew tells us that when Jesus began to preach, the CORE of his message was: “REPENT, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” — The word that Jesus uses, here: “REPENT,” simply means, “TURN AROUND.” It is God’s ongoing invitation to each and everyone of us to: “’Do an about face’ to the DARKNESS in our lives, and come toward the LIGHT of TRUTH OF HOW OUR LIFE SHOULD BE LIVED that Jesus came to bring!”
(Tonight/this morning) – Jesus Christ is looking each and everyone of US straight in the eye, as he says, “TURN AROUND and WALK AWAY FROM whatever the DARKNESS IS in your life that is causing you a “TROUBLED SOUL” or an ‘ANGUISHED HEART’.” — Those longstanding resentments, debilitating fears, compulsive acquisitiveness, habitual shortcuts around truth, destructive relationships, or unsavory habits; those: dead-end situations that are sucking the PASSION FOR LIVING right out of you! — And because each of us is in a lifelong process of evolution; we have to keep sorting out what needs to be let fo and what needs to take its place as we reach a new stage of life.
And, the FIRST STEP in this life-long process of “turning around” — (and it TRULY IS a never-ending, life-long PROCESS) is to acknowledge that when Jesus says, “REPENT,” He isn’t just talking to the person sitting next to us; He is talking to YOU and ME! — The FIRST STEP is “fessing up to the fact” that as Jesus SHINES His SEARCH LIGHT OF TRUTH into your life and mine, there are going to be a few “dark corners” – (a few “corners of sin”) – where we don’t want that light to fall! — (And if we don’t think that there are; then, we’re either REALLY OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY; or we’re JUST FOOLING OURSELVES!) — Because, in Jesus’ eyes – (in God’s eyes) – EVERY ONE of US from Pope Francis on down the line, is in need of the healing which our DIVINE PHYSICIAN came to bring! — So, the FIRST STEP is to ADMIT IT!
Unfortunately, FEAR often keeps many people from “REPENTING” because they think that Jesus’ call means having to GIVE UP the GOOD THINGS OF LIFE – (an outstanding example of “Catholic Guilt”)! — Many mistakenly think that when Jesus calls us to be his follower, he is calling us to leave behind: comfort or good times. But that isn’t necessarily true! — Sometimes it is, but NOT ALWAYS! — It all depends on whether or not life’s comforts or the good times are part of the “darkness of sin,” in our lives!
So, let me assure you, once and for all that you CAN be a FOLLOWER of JESUS and still ENJOY the WONDERFUL PLEASURES that this life has to offer! — Jesus’ call to “REPENT” – “TO TURN AROUND” has nothing to do with denying ourselves the “legitimate delights” of this world.
BUT — IF wealth and good times — (and how we are using them) — are part of those things in our lives that we would be EMBARRASSED to have Jesus’ SEARCH LIGHT OF TRUTH illuminate; then, Jesus is MOST CERTAINLY calling us to leave them behind!
That is why JESUS has to be a PART of the process of “REPENTANCE.” So, open your heart to the Lord. Let him help you probe the darkness and reach for truth. It will most likely be difficult; but give this process the time it deserves because this is about your life!
And pray often: “Lord , there is nothing that You and I can’t handle together.”
Today marks the start of NATIONAL CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK, with its theme: “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” As the Pastor of All Hallows, I invite you all to pray for our ACADEMY and its students, parents, staff, benefactors and volunteers. And please feel free to come and visit our school.
At this time I’d like to express my thanks to our principal, MARY SKEEN, and the great faculty and staff who give so much time and energy to their students – and to the many parent volunteers of the Academy who donate money, time and materials, to ensure a quality education for our children. I am grateful beyond words for your sacrifice! Thank you!