10.20.17 Fri. wk. 28 – O.T. – (I)
1st Rdg . Romans 4: 1 – 8
Gospel – Luke 12: 1 – 7
At that time: so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. He began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven—that is, the hypocrisy—of the Pharisees.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna;* yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. The Gospel of the Lord.
Fr. Mike Murphy In His Mercy We Are Called to Holiness
“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered.” (Rom.4:7) In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul is quoting here from Psalm 32 verse 1. It is a Psalm of David, praising the Lord for His mercy. We know that King David was desperately in need of God’s mercy through much of his life. He needed God’s mercy and he received it in abundance. Some of his sins were very public and he did penance for them. He was grateful to God, so much so, that he changed the way he lived in order to respond to God’s grace. That is why God loved David so very much, not because he wasn’t a sinner, but because he could receive God’s mercy and change his life.
In this passage, St. Paul is writing to the Community in Rome that forgiveness of sins is possible. Everyone can experience the healing touch of God’s mercy through repentance and trust in God. We can be considered righteous, St. Paul writes: As Abraham was righteous. Imagine that! We can be considered as righteous as Abraham. Through the forgiveness of sins, and the sacrifice of †Jesus on the cross, we are made as righteous as Abraham. To have faith in God and trust in His love, opens the heart to the Grace of the Holy Spirit, Grace that brings us that new ‘Life in Christ.’
So speaking to the disciples in our Gospel today, †Jesus tells them: “Do not to be afraid”. We can approach the Father in trust. Even though we are great sinners, we can approach the Lord. All of us have sins that we hope will never be revealed. Often, we think that by running away from God we can keep our sins from Him, but those sins we try to keep secret, God already knows them. So we should not be afraid to approach the Lord of mercy, to ask forgiveness, to move out of the darkness into His Light. All of this comes with His mercy.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we open our heart to the grace of God and the Lord will fill it, not with recrimination, but with mercy and love; that’s how He wants to fill our hearts. Don’t be afraid that the Lord will wag His finger at you. He doesn’t do that. St. Paul writes that God “justifies the ungodly.” (Rom.4:5) What Paul is saying here is that: ‘The Lord loves the ungodly, too.’ We are all sinners and maybe we have not lived our lives entirely as ungodly, but even if we did, we would be forgiven, because God loves us all; and we are all called to holiness; we are all called to be saints. †Jesus teaches, we are “worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7) †Jesus did not die on the cross just for the eagles who soar into the heavenly heights; †Jesus gave His life for all of us, even the most earthbound.
In the fifth century, St. Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD) wrote: “Consider (the) great care God takes of those who love Him. The ‘Preserver of the Universe’ extends His aid and descends on the smallest animals. How can He forget those who love Him, especially when He takes such great care of them? And if we are just one small sparrow, the Lord will take care of us.” (Commentary on Luke, Homily 87)
I don’t know if you know the motto of Pope Francis. (You know every bishop has a particular motto.) The motto of Pope Francis is: “miserando atque eligendo.” What that means is: “lowly but chosen.” What a beautiful motto! And this truly describes the ministry of Pope Francis. He reaches out to those who are caught in sin and weakness, to those who are considered outcasts by the world. And the Holy Father tells them: God loves you, and He is calling you to holiness! That is his whole mission – to reach out to those who are considered the outcasts, the lowest in society and tell them: God loves you!
The self-righteous of the world, who dine on the leaven of the Pharisees, are merciless as we know, in criticizing Pope Francis. But †Jesus tells us tells not to listen to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, whether they lived in the first century Judea or live now, in twenty-first century America. Every one of us is called to be a saint, and it is in His mercy we are called to holiness, undeserved but called, nonetheless. God’s life transforms the hearts of those who believe in His love and trust in His mercy. Believe in His love and trust in His mercy and your heart will be transformed. His light will enable us to overcome: hatred with love, pride with humility, pretense with integrity, deception with truthfulness. †Jesus says:
“Do not be afraid.”
This instruction appears in the Scriptures 365 times.
“Do not be afraid!”
Once for each day of the year; so every day:
“Walk in the Light and the Mercy of God.”
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.