Sunday, September 15, 2019

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Time to Change

Today's readings tell us about turning away from sin and repenting. God is there waiting for us. 

The first readings are the story of Moses on the mountain receiving the Commandments as the Hebrews are up to no good down below. They created a molten calf and began to worship it, sacrificed to it and even declared this calf to be the God of Israel. Moses intercedes for them asking God why would He blaze up His wrath against the people He rescued? Here we see that God is merciful. Moses has the audacity to remind God everything He is about and who He has helped.  We are talking about God, The God Yahweh! This shows us how approachable God is. As an atheist, I remember the arguments that the "God of the Old Testament" is this evil, mean, angry God. Clearly, He is not. Scripture tells stories using certain imagery the Hebrews and people of the time understood. We must remember this when we read Scripture in 2019 or in 3019. Whatever the year is. We must understand the context, genre, and audience in whatever passage we are reading. God is indeed merciful and we can argue with God and plead with Him. God is our Father!  How many times have we argued with our parents? Arguing is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it gets violent, which is never good. Emotions are shared. We learn where the other party is during an argument and can hopefully mend things in a civil manner.

Like a Father, God reaches out to us and is merciful. We must respond back like the Responsorial Psalm says, "I will rise and go to my Father."  The Psalm tells us how God is compassion and goodness and that He has mercy on us. He forgives us and washes us from our guilt. This can only happen if we cooperate. We must set aside sin and to do this, we must be humble and ask God to create a clean heart in us. This means making things new. Unfortunately, some people in the Catholic Church rely on misguided compassion, as the late MOther Angelic used to say. They think that we have to be nice to everyone and leave it at that. While we must be nice and kind, this does not mean we should not correct others and helps others when they are caught in a spiral of sin and destruction. This is not being judgmental. While we must meet people where they are at, we must take them away from there as well.

This brings us to the second reading. We read how St. Paul tells us of what he used to be and how he changed. He was a blasphemer, a persecutor and arrogant. Despite all of this, he was treated mercifully by the other Catholic Christians of the time. Grace took hold and he changed. God called him to repent and change. He responded and became one of the greatest evangelists of all time. This brings us to the Gospel where Jesus tells us about the lost sheep. The shepherd leaves the 99 to find that one that is missing.  This is an image of God and how God functions. He is just, but merciful. God will not force Himself on us. He waits for us to accept the gifts of grace He offers and grow in Him. Heaven rejoices when one sinner returns, just one!  This is how big it is when a sinner repents and changes.  Today is catechetical Sunday in the United States. We pray for our catechists that they may be merciful, but also truthful and not afraid to admonish the sinner. A good catechist teaches the truth and does not water anything down. He or she calls students to change their lives and follow the ways of the Lord. When these students capture the truth of the faith and change, heaven rejoices. Let us pray for our catechists, catechumens, and those in sin so that they may come back to the Lord.     

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A Catechist’s Prayer 
Father of all families, you have called me to serve the family in truth and love as a catechist. May I be faithful to this call, rooted in your Word, and open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. May I use these gifts, especially the gifts of faith, hope, and love, to serve the family as a witness to you, who are love and life and the source and destiny of all families.

Let your Spirit enlighten my mind and strengthen my heart so that I can be a path of Christ’s love to families, especially those in need, the homebound and aged, the disabled and disheartened. Through the intercession of Mary and Joseph, I pray for the Church, the Bride of Christ, whose mission to build a civilization of love passes through the family. Amen.

Copyright © 2010, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to duplicate this work without adaptation for non-commercial use.

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