What a beautiful gathering that we have here today to enjoy the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Although this is the first Sunday of the hot Summer months, the grace of God has touched many, drawing you all to unite and receive Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and to hear the Sacred Word of God that strengthens the hearts of the believers.
During today's "Opening Prayer," we heard that the Heavenly Father has raised a fallen world through the obedience of Jesus. During this same prayer, we asked God to free us from sin and to bring us a joy that will last forever. In other words, the Lord Jesus is our hope of finding rest for our souls.
During the First Reading from the Book of Zechariah, we heard the Old Testament prophecy that promised the coming of our King who would arrive in Jerusalem, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. In fulfillment of what had been spoken through the prophet Zechariah, this event took place when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem a few days before His crucifixion. [Mt. 21:5; Jn. 12:15] This event identified Jesus as the One who was to rule as the King of kings in the spiritual Jerusalem from above. [Gal. 4:25-6].
What is the spiritual Jerusalem? It is the city that we have all entered when we received the Sacrament of Baptism in the Holy Catholic Church. Through Baptism, we entered Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, where innumerable angels are in festal gathering and where the assembly of the firstborn are enrolled in Heaven. It is where God is the judge of all and to the spirits of the righteous are made perfect. [Heb. 12:22-3]
When did the new Jerusalem arrive on earth? This answer is found in the book of The Acts of the Apostles. Jesus ordered His disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. [Acts. 1:4] "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from Heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability." [Acts. 2:1-4]
The Apostle John describes this event in the Book of Revelation where he says, "And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a Bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the Throne saying, 'See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them.'" [Rev. 21:2-3]
Since that day, God has been dwelling among men. While God now sits on His invisible Throne in the spiritual Jerusalem, His visible work is seen through the Vatican, the seat of the Holy Catholic Church that holds the Keys to the Kingdom of God. And, it must not be forgotten that His physical presence is physically manifested in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Having been born again through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are not in the flesh anymore. We are in the spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in us. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.
These words remind me of a passage in the First Letter of John where it states, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world - the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches - comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desires are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever." [1 Jn. 2:15-17]
The Catholic faith teaches us that, "Christ is the Mediator and the way of salvation. He is present to us in His Body which is the Church. He Himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it." [Catholic Catechism # 846]
In simple words, there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church for those who have reached the age of reason and who know the teachings of Jesus and still refuse to enter and remain in the one and only Body of Christ that has been instituted on earth by Christ Himself.
Those who choose to remain outside the Church, they are denying themselves the Sacraments of righteousness and life, righteousness through the Sacrament of Confession, life through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus clearly stated that the Holy Eucharist is His Body. He also clearly stated that His Body is the Bread of life. Through the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist, we maintain our righteous and remain pleasing in the eyes of God. These Sacraments are our assurance that as new creations of the godly seed, we will inherit the Kingdom of God.
As Saint Paul stated, if the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, He who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies by His indwelling in us. But to continue to dwell in us, we must welcome the Holy Spirit. We must have faith in Christ. We must have received the Sacrament of Baptism. We must enjoy a living faith by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And, on a regular basis, especially on Sundays and Holy Days, we must receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the living bread of life.
Those who never participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass or who only go to Church once a year, surely, they cannot be in a state of grace. How could they be in a state of grace when they refuse to participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass? While we are physically present here in our mortal bodies, partaking in the Holy Mass, in spirit, we are partaking in the great Feast in the spiritual city of Jerusalem in the presence of our Lord Jesus. During this great feast, we are surrounded by the Virgin Mary, the saints and the angels. Such is the mystery of the Mystical Body of Christ.
When Jesus thanked the Father, the Lord of Heaven and earth, for revealing the hidden things to infants, He was referring to what I have just finished telling you. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. You will find rest for your souls."
Many try to explain this passage with a worldly approach. The Words of the Bible cannot be explained by a worldly approach. They can only be explained when one embraces a spiritual mind because the Word of God is spiritual in nature. The rest that Jesus is speaking about is the inner spiritual joy and peace that one feels when he is in the presence of Jesus. It is a rest that can only be enjoyed when one becomes attached to Christ after having been "spiritualized." It is a rest that can only be enjoyed when our spirits remain in the presence of Jesus during our enjoyment of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
During the Gospel reading today, we heard Jesus say that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When we live our Christian life as a new creation, enjoying the gifts that we have received during the Sacrament of Baptism, we think spiritually. When we think spiritually, we are no longer burdened by the worldly ways because we are walking our living faith and hope with a spiritual heart.
To explain this, while those of a worldly heart seek to accumulate their treasures, those of a spiritual heart give freely what they own. While the worldly minded hold grudges, those of a spiritual mind forgive. While those of the worldly way avoid Church attendance, the spiritual minded person cherishes the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Endless such comparison can be made as we are well aware.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, in all our daily thoughts, words and actions, let us remember to value our ongoing presence before the indwelling Spirit of God. Through Jesus, let us strive to worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship Him. [Jn. 4:23] May we always remember to place God first in our lives. May we always remember to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. To succeed in this goal, we must seek to walk hand-in-hand with the indwelling Holy Spirit who is our Guide in all things. By doing these things, Jesus will find rest in our hearts and our souls will find the true and perfect rest in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Sunday, July 9, 2017
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