Monday, March 19, 2012

Awareness of God in Us Becomes Deadened by Sin but the Cross Not Only Restores but Creates this Life Anew

"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

Listen to my homily for today, Laetare Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent:

If you have trouble listening, click here.
Mass Readings for the Day

The first reading for today, taken from 2nd Chronicles, describes why the Israelites were exiled by God to Babylon, because by their sin they had exiled God from their moral conscience, "adding infidelity to infidelity."  They felt themselves estranged, alone, orphaned from their fatherland.  Even the great St Padre Pio prayed, "O Lord forgive me for may many infidelities."  How could a saint who was so close to God feel this way?  It is because saints are the ones who truly know they are sinners and are fully aware of Christ's salvation.  It is the one who has sin caked over his eyes that he thinks he does no wrong.  "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:10)  When God's light shines in us we see our sinfulness - dead, exiled, separated from God and very very alone.  Yet, according to the second reading taken from Ephesians
"Even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ -by grace you have been saved-, raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus"

And this is the ingenious thing about the Cross, that that which had formerly caused us separation with God, our sin, has now become through the pardon of Jesus Christ through his blood, the very thing which unties us closest to God.  This is what Jesus was referring to when he told Nicodemus 
"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
When we gaze upon the Crucified we see two things.  First what our sin does: kills the presence of God in our moral conscience.  One mortal sin separates us eternally from God and for it we deserve and justly merit eternal punishment.  The effects of this in our souls is obvious: depression, sadness, fear, anxiety, even insomnia and psychological problems.  We see that our sin kills the life of God in us, i.e. sanctifying grace.  However, the second and more important thing we see is that by our sin God has revealed his great love, showing us that God is love and he loves us without condition or measure.  Undeserving of his love, this woos us, wins over our hearts, to discover the novelty of being loved by God without having deserving it so that we can boast only of our weakness and the wisdom of our loving God.

This is the experience every time we go to Jesus in the Sacrament of confession.  The Lord Jesus gave the power to forgive sin to his apostles in the upper room when he said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" (John 20:23).  The psychological effects of receiving the actual pardon of God sacramentally are quite dramatic: emotional healing, peace, happiness, and freedom.

May Our Lady help us to experience the salvation of Christ in a powerful way this Lent.

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