12 July 2013
Sermon from the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
From Canon Raphael Ueda, ICRSS:
The laws which govern light, heat, and electricity are well known today. For example in the natural sciences Newton discovered the law of gravitation by which all bodies attract in direct proportion to their mass. The law of nature is nothing but the forces and tendencies to a determinate and constant method of activity implanted by God in the nature of thing. On the natural level it is easy to discern between a true and a false teacher, because we can see, touch, measure and calculate the data. Now humanity has a marvelous instrument to observe the universe. Thus in our days no one says that the planet is flat even though it was once believed to be so.
Today’s Liturgy speaks of the true fruit of Catholic life and invites us to ask ourselves what fruit we have produced so far and what fruits we are expecting to have in the future.
St. Paul says in Today’s Epistle, "When you were the servants of sin, you brought forth the fruit of death, but now, being made free from sin and become servants of God, you have your fruit unto your sanctification."
So our sanctification should be the fruit of our Christian life. And it is good to examine ourselves on this point. What progress are we making in our spiritual life?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus directs our attention to the false prophets who appear in the clothing of sheep but inwardly are wolves. And there are many who claim to be teachers in spiritual or moral matters. And sometimes false doctrines are offered to us even though they may not seem false at first because they have always the appearance of truth. It happens sometimes that a teacher who was known as a good teacher is completely ignored at his death.
Thus the discernment between a good and a false teacher is sometimes so difficult. How can we discern between true and false?
The Gospel of St. Matthew gives us a simple key to solve this very subtle question.
"So, Teacher, what good shall I do?"
This dialogue of Jesus with the young man could serve as a useful illustration for discerning between a true and a false teacher. A young man said to Jesus, “Good Master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?”
Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One is good, God. But if you wish to enter into life keep the commandments, the laws of God.”
Here it is very useful to understand the meaning of the word “law” because in history many philosophers have said that the law exists only to violate it.
Law in the widest sense is understood as that exact guide, rule or standard by which a thing or person is moved to action or held back from it.
Our daily experiences show us that all things are driven by their own nature take a determinate and constant attitude.
But once we enter into the moral law of our actions, it is not so easy to discern between a true and a false teacher. This is so because the cause of our actions is often hidden, even to ourselves.
St. Thomas defines law as “A regulation in accordance with reason promulgated by the head of a community for the sake of the common welfare.”
Law is first a regulation, which aims at ordering the action of the members of the community, and the law is a binding rule and draws its force from the authority of the superior. Human authority is only a participation in the supreme power of Divine Providence. Moreover, law must promote the common good. And it is impossible that God could give the human community the right to issue laws that are unreasonable and in contradiction of His Will. God only permits such things to happen in history-- and history shows us that human laws which contradict Divine law finish by falling by themselves.
The glory of God the Father is the final goal of the Divine Providence and His laws. And God desires to attain this glory by the happiness of mankind and our sanctification.
Here lies a deep mystery of the suffering of the just, the existence of evil and the value of sanctification. This is the constant question, “Why does God permit the evil to prosper and the just to suffer?”
The Cross of Jesus is the most direct answer to this perpetual question. All the martyrs who suffered for the faith by keeping the commandments and the laws of God give us the testimony of the Cross of Jesus.
The observance of the Moral Law should guide us to discover the great value of faith which is worthy of giving one’s life for love.
Indeed St. Paul says that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Because faith is the foundation of our relationship with Him. And for the man without faith, God has neither meaning, nor value, nor place in his life. But we Catholics live by faith. The more lively our faith is, the more God enters into our life until finally He becomes our all, the one great reality for which we live and the one for whom we can face sorrow and even death.
Indeed, we do not lack faith, but it is not sufficiently alive and practical to make us see God in everything and over everything.
Faith does not depend upon the data received through the senses, on what we can see and touch like natural science.
For faith is a supernatural virtue. And it is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it.
The time in which we live is not easy. Dear faithful, let us pray for the grace of a lively faith so that we can fulfill God’s Will in the midst of contradictions. Amen.