Sunday, August 30, 2020

22 Sunday in Ordinary Time: Suckered by God

Have you ever wonder why things go bad for believers in God? We follow God, do the best we can, yet all goes bad most of the time. It sometimes gets so bad that some of us stop believing altogether and may become atheists. We see how the world mocks us. Laws are passed to make it nearly impossible to practice our faith at home, school, work, when doing business or even outside. Why is this?  We pray and protest, yet abortion, so-called same-sex marriage and other evils are passed into law easily. Why? Where is God?  Is God dead?  Has he "duped" us?  Today's readings address this.

The first reading shows a lot of complaining and accusations against God.  "You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped!"  Duped means to be fooled, tricked or deceived. In today's modern jargon, some may use the word "suckered."  The writer is telling us that he was suckered by God. God was too strong. He became the object of laughter, everyone mocks him. Today, we see how everyone mocks us and our faith. They call us sheep, blind, ignorant; claim we are on the "wrong side of history," etc etc. I am sure you reading this have experience some form of mockery for your faith.

Moreover, the writer tells us that he cries out and needs violence and outrage to vent his message. He tells us that God's world brought derision and reproach all day. Because of this, he says he will not mention God or speak His name. However, when he attempts this, the desire becomes stronger. It is like a firing in his heart burning held by his skeleton. The writer is telling us that when He speaks of God, the world turns against him. God's word and even the name of God brings misery to him and reproach from others. This is because the world is corrupted by sin and the devil. The choice of Adam and Eve to do things their way after being duped by the serpent is alive in us all. This is concupiscence. We desire to do bad things. It seems fun to be evil and a lawbreaker. This is the consequence of original sin. While this sin is removed at baptism, the affects remain in us. Because of this, anything related to God is frowned up.

Nevertheless, those of us who still have faith will still fight on even if it hurts us. Speaking of God is not easy. I myself get mocked and harassed. On social media there is an active campaign against me by alleged atheists and others. One alleged Catholic named Linwood Wayne Camp has even created several Twitter accounts to harass me and made threats to "dox" me or post private information in order to defame me. He has even threatened to accuse me of fraud to the FBI. It happens and will happen.  Perhaps not as severely as I have experienced, but it will happen.  Most of the time you will feel powerless and hopeless like the writer of the first reading. You will feel duped by God or that God abandoned you. This may or may not lead to doubt that will lead to atheism. Nevertheless, you will still feel that burning in you despite the other emotions that will come about. Humans are emotional creatures. They will get sad, humiliated, angry etc. It is in their nature. So feeling like God duped you or abandoned you is a natural human response. Faith and hope are the supernatural elements that compensate for the human reaction. They remind us that the mockery etc is temporary and inutil. In the end, Jesus wins and if we stick with Him, we too will win.  We must continue to thirst for God as the responsorial Psalm tells us.

Our souls thirt for you, O Lord my God. This should be the first thing we say when we wake up in the morning and when we go to bed. This week we celebrated the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo. A famous passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5) rings true to today's responsorial Psalm. Saint Augustine states “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”  This passage is very true for everyone, even atheists. We all desire God. We all desire meaning and purpose. Why are we here? What is beyond us?  Are we alone in the Universe?  Is there life after death? What is the point of existence? All these questions have been asked since man could think and reason. Their answers have been sought via religion, philosophy, art, even math, history, archeology and science!  This inquiry is based on St. Augustine's words. We are restless because we are searching for our origin. Our origin is in God. That being stated, we will not find rest until we rest in our origin: God.  God is who we seek. We are like the earth, without water, lifeless. This is why we gaze at our Lord in the Tabernacle in His sanctuary to see His power and glory. W await for His kindness because it is greater than any good in this life. We glorify God because of this. He is the Most High!  We must bless Him as we live life and lift our hands up to praise His name. Some so-called traditionalists may have a problem with raising hands at Mass, but the Church does not prohibit it or endorse it. No pope or bishop has made any order against it. God's word encourages it.  God is our help and our slavation. Our souls must cling onto Him, especially during hard times.  We must be given completely to God as the second reading tells us.

The second reading tells us that we must offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. This means we must be both the altar and sacrifice on it. Our lives are the vessels and the sacrifice. This means that as we live, we must offer our pains and sufferings within ourselves as the altar to God united on the Cross with Jesus. This is why during this alleged pandemic, our bishops have allowed to pray at home and participate in virtual Masses.  Our lives are altars too. We are walking parishes, so to speak. The mystical body of Christ does not end at the four walls of a church building. Remember, the Catholic Church did not have building for almost 4 centuries until Constantine converted, legalized the Church, made it the official religion of the Roman empire and gave the Church the old temples used by Roman Pagans. Before this, Catholics prayed with their lives as martyrs and had Masses at homes. They heard the Old Testament Scriptures at Synagogue and then went home to have the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The New Testament was not even finished yet during this time. The first Catholics had Mass in private homes, underground and in catacombs in order to avoid the Romans. The Romans were superstitious and did not like to enter the place of the death.  This was a perfect place to have Mass safely. Moreover, our lives must be pleasing and holy. We cannot just offer anything to God. It has to be pleasing and holy. So if you are persecuted because of your faith, this offering is pleasing and holy to God. It is even more pleasing and holy to God than praying from a book out of habit. This is not to say that it is wrong, but that turning prayer into a robotic or mechanical ritual serves no one. It becomes rambling that eventually causes spiritual destruction. This is why the spiritual life is important. We must always be ready to transform our minds and renew them so that we can discern God's will. This means not becoming a prison of the past. Some are still upset over Vatican II. We cannot be like this. Tradition is a living organism. While the teachings and liturgy do not change and cannot change, the way they are expressed do. We see this in history. It does not mean the Church is modernist or became some offshoot sect. That is silly to even contemplate.  We must be ready for everything.

In the Gospel, Jesus rebukes Peter for saying he would prevent Jesus from suffering and being killed.  Jesus does this because Peter is thinking via the mundane. He fails to realize Jesus' purpose or why Jesus came to earth in the first place.  Jesus did not come so everyone can have Christmas and sing carols. He came to suffer, die and resurrect. By doing this, He would redeem the world and open the doors to salvation to whoever wants it and will work for it in faith, hope and love. This is why Jesus tells Peter, "Satan, get behind me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."  Again, Peter was thinking via the mundane. Then Jesus says that whoever wants to come after Him must deny himself, take up the cross and follow.  He continues that whoever wants to save his or her life must lose it for His sake. Jesus ends by stating that He will come again with His angels and will repay everyone for his or her conduct.  These words seem contradictory, but they are not. How can we deny ourselves? We are taught to love ourselves and have pride in our identity. Today's world pushes this even more with gender theory and LGBTQ rhetoric. We "create our own truth," they claim. Jesus says the opposite. We must deny ourselves. This means, not that we erase that we exist but that we must acknowledge that we are not the be all end all. Life does not exist or is based on us. We must be humble and accept that God is the one we must follow. He is the one who decides when we are conceived, born and when we will die. We are free to act within these intervals, but are not free beyond that.

We deny ourselves by putting God and others first. We deny ourselves by fasting or giving up something during Lent or any time based on your personal spiritual life, and of course dietary needs. This is important to state. Some people have health problems which prevent them from fasting or abstaining. No one should put their health at risk for this. God does not want us to commit suicide or hurt ourselves. For example, if you are a diabetic and need insulin or metformin, you should never stop taking them as a sacrifice. Find another thing to give up that will not cause you harm.  Moreover, what does Jesus mean by losing one's life in order to save it?  He means that we lose our lives due to preaching His name, then we save it. In other words, martyrdom. If we are killed because we refused to deny the faith or preached it, then we saved our lives because we made the ultimate sacrifice. We did not kill ourselves for Christ, someone else did. So we became the living sacrifice in this manner.

However, martyrdom is not the only way. Losing our lives can also be metaphorically in the sense of leaving our sinful lives behind and becoming a new person, or even via the mockery we receive due to persecution which would be categorized as character assassination. If our character is assassinated due to our faith in Christ, then we too saved our lives in this way. Jesus sees this. He sees how we dealt with the abuse and will reward us because if we stood strong, we showed our love is strong. So in closing, we must remember that just because we decided to follow Jesus does not mean all will be paradise on earth. You will not become a millionaire overnight nor will you start receiving checks in the mail like those phony fortune preachers claim on television or commercials. We will not find the perfect man or woman in our lives nor become bishops overnight if we are called to Holy Orders. We will not live a life without sickness or other problems, nor will we be able to walk among venomous snakes, spiders or in traffic without getting seriously harmed or killed.  We will not be able to be outside without a mask and walk among people with covid-19 coronavirus and not get infect.  It does not work that way.  Quite the contrary. We will be target by this world and all its nonsense. We must not lose faith over this. I had people tell me that God does not exist because terrorists are able to shoot people during Mass or blow churches up; or that churches closed because of a virus. This is not true.

We are all susceptible to the things of this world. Sin brought disorder, nature has its laws it operates on which God wrote. God is immutable. He does not change. Therefore, the script must go on, so to speak. We will get sick with covid 19 or anything else even if we believe in God. We will get killed even if we hold out a crucifix against someone holding a gun if God wills it for a greater purpose. This is because we must fit the script and play the part until Jesus returns.  Even Jesus who is God faced the same things humans do except sin. He felt pain. He got hurt. He bled. He died.  If God Himself went through all this, what makes you think you and I will not? Jesus was not like Superman with impenetrable skin or super strength. He was a typical human Jewish male who happened to be the second person of the Blessed Trinity simultaneously. As stated, God designed the universe to behave in a certain way and will not tweak it here and there like if it was the Matrix from the movie with the same title.  Everything in this universe will behave the way it is set to behave. Churches will crumble if a bomb is placed in them. Bullets will pierce our skin, even that of a priest with an holy object in his hands. Of course God can prevent it if He wills it for some purpose. This does not mean it will happen all the time and we must not lose faith if it does not. It does not mean God does not care or does not exist. It means God's "program" is working like it should, or the laws of nature.

We must be strong and have faith. Offer our lives as sacrifices and accept that the world will hate us.  God is with us and so is Our Lady.  We must not quit when these problems come to us. They are of Satan. We must say like Jesus "Get behind me Satan!."  Do not quit. Tell Satan to get lost.



Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/083020.cfm


Dear supporters.  Covid-19 Coronavirus has hit all of us hard. It has hit the Sacerdotus ministry hard as well. My stipends were cut and donations have slowed down. We are concerned about paying for the domain names we use to host the sites, as well as, not being able to ship Rosaries and other things to people who contact us asking for one. One or two envelopes is not too bad; however, when you have 10 or more asking for Rosaries, the shipping and mailing adds up and is expensive.  Please help us by donating to our gofundme here: www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus or by becoming a monthly patron at www.patreon.com/sacerdotus.  There are different tiers of membership with unique rewards for being a patron. Moreover, those who become a donating monthly member will be allowed to post on our Faceobok books without limitations, other than the obvious rules for the groups.  So please, donate and consider becoming a monthly donor.  God will reward your efforts.  We are also looking for guest writers for the site and those who can volunteer their graphic and design skills to help create memes and other graphics to post on social media for the purpose of evangelization.   

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