Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

02-19-2017HomiliesDeacon Patrick Toilolo

In our first reading the Lord said to Moses to tell the people, "Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy." In our second reading St. Paul writing to the Corinthians says, "If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy." At the end of the gospel reading Jesus tells us, "So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." From these verses we hear that we are called to be holy, that we are temples of God, which are holy, and we are called to be perfect like God the Father. Perfect in this passage means love. We are called to love like God. That's a tall order? How do we live a holy and perfect life in today's society?

I went to the Phoenix Men's Conference a few weeks ago and for the past two conferences we've been studying the document that Bishop Olmsted wrote titled, "Into the Breach". In his exhortation Bishop Olmsted calls ALL men to step into the breach, to fill the gaps that have been left behind by the battle that Satan has waged on the Church, the wounding of our children and families, the distortion of the dignity of both men and women. The battle is often hidden, he says, but it is real. One of the key reasons the Church is faltering under the attacks of Satan, Bishop Olmsted says is that, "many Catholic men have not been willing to step into the breach."

And he goes on to give statistics. Since the year 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, religious education of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped 19%, infant baptism has dropped by 28%, adult baptism has dropped by 31%, and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%. Recent research shows that large numbers of young Catholic men are leaving the faith to become "nones"- men who have no religious affiliation. These are devastating facts. How do we combat this? By living holy lives.

Bishop Olmsted gives us the following seven basic practices to live a holy life:

  1. Pray every day. It is said, "Until you realize that prayer is the most important thing in life, you will never have time for prayer." Without prayer, we are like soldiers who lack food, water, and ammunition.
  2. Examine your conscience before going to sleep. Take a few moments to review the day, including both your blessings and sins. Thank God for the blessings and ask for forgiveness for sins.
  3. Go to Mass. Every Mass is a miracle where Jesus Christ is fully present, a miracle that is the high point not only of the week, but of our entire lives on Earth.
  4. Read the Bible. St. Jerome so clearly tells us, "Ignorance of the Sacred Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." When we read God's word, Jesus is present.
  5. Keep the Sabbath. He gave us the Sabbath to ensure that one day out of the seven we will give thanks to God, rest, and be refreshed.
  6. Go to Confession monthly. At the very start of Christ's public ministry, Jesus calls on all to repent. Without repentance from sin, there can be no healing or forgiveness, and there will be no Heaven. He will not forgive those who refuse. Open your soul to the gift of our Lord's mercy!
  7. Build a relationship with other Catholics. Catholic friendships can have a dramatic impact on our lives of faith. When we build bonds with other Catholics we pray more, go to Mass, and Confession more frequently.

Along with living these basic practices I would like to add, passing the faith onto our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, our families. If we don't pass it on to them they will find faith somewhere else, or not. Let us be vigilant as we work to live lives of holiness, and spread the faith as we strive to be perfect, as we strive to love like our heavenly Father.