16th Sunday in Ordinay Time
Doom to the shepherds who allow the flock to scatter and be destroyed
Doom to us shepherds! I’m keenly aware that I’m responsible for you before God. It’s not that you can’t make your own choices but I have a duty of care to make sure those choices are well informed.
The Church teaches there are five things that guarantee that we will have the right spirit, that we share in the life of God and that we grow in love of God and neighbour. The first (and most important) precept is that we are required to participate in the Eucharist where we celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection every Sunday (or the Saturday vigil). Not only do we hear the Gospel and gather as one, but we cement our personal relationship with Jesus who desires to commune with us. This produces many benefits: spiritually, psychologically and perhaps even physically.
The other precepts are (2) you shall confess your sins at least once a year (3) you shall receive Holy Communion at least once a year (4) you shall keep the holy days of obligation which are the feast days that honour the mysteries of the Lord, Our Lady, and the Saints (5) you shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
In the Gospel, Jesus gives the example of teaching. It wasn’t because the people were stupid or that he was clever. It was because his taking responsibility for them, made him think in a different way. This holds true for the Church’s teaching Magisterium. This also holds true for me. I think in a different way than you. Why? Because I love you and I am responsible for you. My thinking is about protecting you by helping you to make the right choices.
Out of love for you I need to speak about one choice that people are often getting wrong and this affects the whole of their life and the way they live their life. This choice is an omission and has to do with the first precept. This choice is omitting to be faithful to Jesus.
The mystic souls understood that Jesus is an intimate lover. In the greatest act of intimate love Jesus yearns to commune with you. One day he said to Sr Faustina “My great delight is to unite Myself with souls. Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognise Love! They treat Me as a dead object.”
I just want to get across one point today and I can only teach that point from the way I live my life. I am driven by love to receive Jesus and be united with him, to be intimate with my God. Everywhere in the world that I travelled prior to becoming a priest the first thing I did was to find the daily Mass. I know where daily Mass is in Russia, Siberia, England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Bosnia, Montenegro, Chile, etc. Love drove me and love kept me faithful to Jesus. Similarly love gets me to Confession regularly.
From my life I can teach you that keeping the first precept of the Church – to go to Mass every Sunday – depends solely on how much love we have for Jesus. You can’t say “I love you Jesus” and then abandon him like an unfaithful lover who seeks the arms of another. Love and betrayal is at stake every Sunday. And that’s only one reason why the decision to be faithful or unfaithful will colour everything in your life. Today let’s reflect on the way we are living our lives. Let’s consider our choices and show Jesus that we love him.