by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Ascension Homily, Sunday, May 13, 2018:
Jesus gives His Apostles and disciples, and us today, our marching orders. This is Ascension Sunday. Today’s readings narrate Jesus’s final post-resurrection appearance. Then, He ascends into heaven. The theme of the readings is the growth of the Church beyond Jerusalem. That’s where the Apostles, disciples, and we get to work.
First, Jesus has given His Apostles and disciples convincing proof of His resurrection. The Apostles and disciples will be genuine witnesses of Him. They saw and heard Jesus. To “witness” means to testify, “to make a solemn statement of what is personally known or believed to be true.” We witness Jesus Christ in that way by our faith in this Church’s teachings, in this Church’s sacraments, in Sacred Scripture, and in Eucharist. We cannot do this ourselves. The Holy Spirit will strengthen us for this mission, to “witness” Jesus to the entire world, wherever we are.
Second, in Ephesians, St. Paul summarizes what we are to witness to: God has shown His great power by raising His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead and by seating Jesus at His right hand in heaven. It is there that Jesus reigns over all cosmic forces and His name is glorified and praised over all others. God places everything under Christ’s control. God makes Christ the Head of the Church, which is Christ’s Body. This completes Christ’s being. Christ’s glorification reaches its zenith when He becomes head over all the church. The church is united to Christ’s Body. The Head, Jesus, and the Body, the Church, are one. They have a common nature. So therefore Jesus is bound most intimately with His Faithful. Jesus’s One Body is His One Church. Jesus is not cut up into 40-thousand denominational churches. His one church and body is this one, the one He established on the rock of St. Peter, two thousand years ago. We are to witness to all of this today, here and now.
Third, we need not fear. Jesus will be with us in our preaching and witnessing. Jesus promises that He will affirm their gospel message with special signs of His Own Power and Protection. These miraculous signs will guarantee the truth and the divine origin of their message. Jesus commands His Apostles and disciples to preach the gospel of salvation to all people throughout the world. The Gospel message of Jesus and the salvation He brings are for everyone. There are no exceptions. Our fear and silence will be replaced by courage, faith, and witness to Jesus Christ in this church, His Church.
We were graced to have such a witness in our midst last week. Immaculee Illabagiza is a holy, faithful Catholic woman. Her family was slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Her witness is the forgiveness she bore to those who killed her parents and her brothers. God’s miraculous sign was the protection He gave her for several months while she hid in a bathroom in a minster’s house. There were killers outside, numerous times, looking for her, to kill her too. God shielded her. Now He uses her to witness the Gospel message of mercy, forgiveness, and salvation. She humbly obeys and faithfully witnesses. She is an example for us to follow. And Jesus is with her as she gives witness to Him.
The Easter season culminates in Jesus’s Ascension into Heaven. The Catholic Church wisely celebrates Jesus’s Ascension. Holy Mother Church commemorates Jesus’s Ascension because His marching orders apply today to us, just as they did to His Apostles and disciples two-thousand-years ago. Jesus lives. His message lives. His commission to us to witness lives too. We have witnesses like Immaculee Illabagiza to model our witness after. And we have a beautiful Christian message in our beautiful Roman Catholic faith to witness to.
So what must we know? That Jesus rose from the dead, reigns in heaven over all cosmic forces and is head of this Church. What must we do? Proclaim that. Give witness to that. Why should we care? Because Jesus loves us so much that He is united with us in a common nature, His being, our being, His Church and our Church. Jesus is so close to us that He unites Himself to us so we needn’t fear and be silenced. Jesus needs us to witness to Him today in the teachings and traditions of This Roman Catholic Church for the salvation of all. He is with us. We have our orders. Let’s march.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Sixth Sunday of Easter Homily, May 6, 2018
Easter Season 2018 concludes with today’s readings. Next Sunday we will celebrate Jesus Christ’s Ascension into Heaven. It is important to know what God has done for our salvation and what we are commanded to do to embrace His Salvation.
One: God loves us and has taken the initiative to express His love for us. In the first reading from Acts 10, St. Peter, the first pope of the church Jesus established, our church, visits the home of a Gentile believer, Cornelius. St. Peter says “…in every nation whoever fears Him (God) and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.” Then God pours out the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and the other Gentile believers. This is the only time in the Bible when the Holy Spirit is poured out on believers before baptism. After St. Peter hears them glorify God and speak in tongues, he orders them to be baptized in Jesus’s name. God loves us. God acts first to save us. God takes the initiative. It is the same in the first letter of John, where he says God loved us first, “…and sent His Son, Jesus, as expiation for our sins.”
Two, this is the love with which God loves us. God’s love is universal. It is for Jew and Gentile alike. It is impartial. St. Peter orders Cornelius’s household to be baptized with these words: “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” He refers to the first Pentecost, in the upper room in Jerusalem, when God poured the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, disciples, and Jesus’s own Mother, who was there praying with them. God’s love for us is merciful. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to us to atone for our sins with the sacrifice of His Own Body and Blood, His Own Life. Jesus’s loving sacrifice of Himself satisfies God’s requirement for reconciliation between us and Him. God is so loving and merciful that He sent His Son to die on the Cross and rise again, “to restore fallen mankind to his original supernatural state (sanctifying grace).” That is the state of grace Adam and Eve were in before they sinned.
Three, God requires us to reciprocate. We must give God the very same love He gives us and we must give that very same love to each other, to include our friends and our enemies. That is the love with which Jesus has loved us. The model of love for all true discipleship is extreme, infinite, and universal. It is Jesus who lays down His Life for His friends, as does the Good Shepherd. Jesus compares His love for His disciples with the Father’s love for Him. The disciples, including you and me, must insure that Jesus’s love continues. We do that by obeying Jesus’s commandments. That authenticates our love for Jesus and God the Father and their love for us because it is the same love. It is a universal love, which is extreme and infinite. Jesus coaxes, encourages, and invites us to embrace that love by obeying His Commandments. And when we sin, we confess our sins, attend Holy Mass, and receive Jesus Himself in Eucharist to restore sanctifying grace in our souls. Being a branch of the True Vine gives us kinship with Jesus Christ and God His Father. We unite with Jesus by faith and by our determination to do His Will in all things.
God loves us and has taken the initiative to love us. He gives us the identical love He gives to His Son, Jesus Christ, the True Vine. We return that very same love to Jesus and God His Father by loving one another through the observance of Jesus’s commandments.
That’s the big picture of Easter. We should care because this is our pathway to being in the same state of love with God that Adam and Eve had before the Fall. That is what God’s Love and Jesus’s Love does for you and me here, today.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 29, 2018
Jesus tells His disciples that He is the great “I AM.” That is the name God calls Himself when Moses asks God to identify Himself to the Israelites in Exodus. In this Easter season, Holy Mother Church gives us gospel readings in which Jesus expresses Himself as the great “I AM”. Jesus then attaches an image, an allegory to His “I AM” name. In this gospel, Jesus identifies Himself by saying, “I AM the vine.”
The central point of this allegory is that if the disciples remain in Jesus through love, they will bear much fruit. If they don’t, they will become dry, withered branches who will be good for nothing except fuel for a fire.
To remain in Jesus as fruitful branches, there are three words that are very useful to live by. They are “connect,” “in,” and “remain.”
To “connect” means to join or link together. It also means to attach by personal relationship and association. So, a connection is a relationship in which a person is connected to others. We are connected to the true vine of Jesus by relationship and association. That relationship and association is our obedience to Jesus’s graces and teachings. We become likenesses of Jesus, as taught to us in Sacred Scripture and in the teachings of Holy Mother Church. We configure ourselves to Him.
“In” means to be in its proper place and in a position of assured success. To “remain” means to be a part that is not destroyed, taken, or used up. It continues. In this case, the disciples bear fruit and operate as designed by Jesus.
Jesus also calls the Church His vine. As members of His Church, we are part of Jesus and He is part of us. We are branches of Jesus, the True Vine. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.
A fruitless vine, like Judas Iscariot, is pruned, lopped off the vine, and burned in fire.
The disciples, and you and I, must keep vital immanence with Jesus Christ. Immanence is to dwell in nature and in the soul. We must allow Jesus to dwell in our very being and our very soul. It is there that Jesus gives us the vital sap of His life, eternal life. We remain connected to Jesus through faith, hope, charity, and Eucharist. There is no fruit in our lives without our immanent adhesion to Jesus. Union with Jesus secures fruitfulness in us. What is required in us is actual grace, the grace that we act out in our lives.
Jesus assures us of His connection to us. To be vital branches of Him, we must be connected to Jesus. If you remember last Sunday, when Jesus told us that He is the Good Shepherd, Jesus said His Sheep know His Voice, and they follow Him. They know His Voice because they actively listen to it. They/we attune ourselves to His Voice. We have to do our part to be connected to the True Vine, Jesus Christ.
“Connect,” “remain”, “in”: those three words help us to be the vital, fruitful branches of Jesus Christ, who is part of us through His Church, this Church. In doing so, we become part of a church that is at peace, that is being built up, walks in the fear of the Lord, receives the consolation of the Holy Spirit, and experiences growth.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Fourth Sunday of Easter Homily, April 22, 2018
In today’s gospel, Jesus calls Himself “the Good Shepherd.” Jesus does this to differentiate Himself from the hireling. Jesus says that the Good Shepherd will lay down His Life for His sheep. That is how much the Good Shepherd loves His sheep. Jesus says this in a conversation with the Pharisees. That is who He is talking to in today’s gospel. It is the Pharisees whom Jesus calls, “wolves.” The Pharisees are spiritual enemies of the “sheep,” who are Jesus’s own people, members of His Church, sons and daughters through the grace of divine generation-baptism.
The whole root of this conversation is the fact that the Jewish religious authorities fail to see and to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah and the Son of God. The Pharisees reject the Messiah God gave them. The Pharisees also reject being the religious leaders that God wanted them to be-good shepherds. So therefore, God will shepherd His own people, Himself. He does so through Jesus Christ, His Own Son, the Good Shepherd. Since they reject the Messiah, God has rejected the Pharisees, and their religious leadership.
Jesus will act in certain ways to be the Good Shepherd of His Church. Jesus will lead His flock away from spiritual danger. Jesus will lead His flock into safe pastures. Quite frankly, those safe pastures are the authority and teachings of this Church. Those safe pastures include Holy Mass, where Sacred Scripture and Jesus in the Eucharist unite to protect us and to save us. Those safe pastures include obeying the Ten Commandments.
Jesus will also die for His sheep, His own people. He will lay His Life down for them and He will pick it back up again. That means Jesus will undergo His Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection to save His sheep, His own people. Only God can lay His Life down and take it back up again.
Jesus tells this to the Pharisees to contrast His own faithfulness as the Good Shepherd to their failure to be good shepherds.
Jesus will speak to His sheep and they will know His voice and follow Him, not the Pharisees.
Jesus does one more thing as Good Shepherd. Jesus shares His Office with His apostles and disciples, in varying degrees. Jesus needs priests in this Church, His Church, to continue Jesus’s work. Priests are needed to heal the sick, perform signs and wonders, to drive out demons, and to baptize-to beget more children of God through His Son and Our Savior, Jesus Christ. So please pray that Jesus will continue to select good men to follow in His Footsteps as Good Shepherds as priests. Please encourage good men to consider priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, to be open to it, to pray about it, and to follow Jesus’s lead, into whatever vocation He calls them. Please pray for priests today, that they follow Jesus as the Good Shepherd and strive to exercise their priestly office with faithfulness, grace, love, and zeal for souls.
Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. It is His Nature, His Makeup, His DNA, His Identity, and His Very Soul. That is what His Church is to be like. It requires priests to make it so.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Third Sunday of Easter Homily, April 15, 2018:
Today’s readings tell us that Jesus Christ is recognized as the Lord and Messiah, the Son of God, and Savior of the world in two bodies which people can see and touch.
The first is the lame man in the Acts of the Apostles. Peter and John heal this lame man so he can walk again. He does, into the Temple with Peter and John. The Jews are astounded. They knew this man was lame from birth. He was brought up to the Temple gates to beg for alms. Peter says to him, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk.” He does. God healed him through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Peter and John tell the people the lame man was healed by faith in the name of Jesus, whom “you handed over and denied.” The Jews in the Temple see this lame man now healed. St. Peter points to Jesus as the messianic Servant of the Lord whom God exalts and lifts up. St. Peter says God is vindicating His Servant, Jesus Christ. St. Peter addressed the lame man in Jesus’s name and he was healed. In this act, God showed that He had raised Jesus from the dead and was honoring His Name. St. Peter’s speech convicts those Jews of wrongdoing but does not condemn them. St. Peter gives them the chance to repent. If the Jews repent, they can be forgiven of their sins. St. Peter uses God’s healing of this lame man to illustrate that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, who was killed and is now resurrected. Jesus is God’s Son and faith in Him and in His Name saves us from sin and death.
The second body is that of Jesus Christ Himself. St. Luke’s gospel reading today tells of the two men who saw Jesus Christ Himself “in the breaking of the bread.” That is an important phrase. Jesus Christ gives Himself to the Church in word and sacrament. Then, Jesus appeared to the disciples. Jesus says “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). The marks of the crucifixion authenticate Jesus’s risen body as the same one that was crucified days earlier. It is important that recognition of the risen Lord Jesus Christ comes “in the breaking of the bread.”
It takes faith, a new set of eyes, to recognize the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts can burn within us in this Church, in Holy Mass, in Eucharist, Jesus’s own Body and Blood. The body that the disciples touched is the same body that Jesus says is in Eucharist, which He instituted at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. The breaking of the bread was the first description of Holy Mass, the Liturgy. Jesus explains to His Apostles and Disciples that He had to suffer, die, and rise on the third day. Jesus’s Resurrection raises our souls to new life in grace and will later raise our bodies in glory. Jesus is recognized by the eyes of faith. When we see Jesus with eyes of faith, we recognize Jesus’s Body and Blood in Eucharist, in Sacred Scripture, and in this very Mass, which reveals Jesus in both. With eyes of faith, we can repent of our sins and be guaranteed of Jesus’s forgiveness. We can also be guaranteed of the graces He gives us in both. Those two bodies, the one of the healed lame man, and the other of Jesus Christ Himself, give us forgiveness, love, mercy, and eternal life.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter-Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8, 2018:
Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Jesus Christ now appears to His Apostles and disciples after His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Jesus Christ has now successfully accomplished the mission He was placed on earth to perform. His mission is to atone for our sins by His sacrifice of Himself, to defeat evil, sin, and Satan, to destroy death, and establish everlasting life. So now that Jesus Christ has accomplished all of this, what is the point? There are two. The point is unity. The point is mercy.
The first two readings, from Acts and from First John, emphasize unity. To “unite” means to come together to form a single unit. In this case, that single unit is “church.” That church is the new worship society Jesus is forming as He promised when He made Peter the rock on which He would build His Church. It replaces the Temple. St. Peter is its earthly head. The essence and soul of this Church is the Holy Spirit. The works of the Holy Spirit in this Church are charity and miracles. The sharing of goods in this Church is because of unity it embraces due to Holy Spirit. This is not a Marxist church, nor will it ever be that. In the first letter of St. John, he writes that faith and love unite us to God and to each other. We must believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior before we can be baptized. In Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirt, are born of God, and become God’s children. We love God and we love others who are begotten of Him. We end up with three dispositions or characteristics that are united in us: love God, love God’s children, and obey His commandments and teachings. It is faith which empowers us to do all three in a world that is hostile to His Church, THIS CHURCH. God loves us so much that He wants to unite us with Him, His Son, and each other IN HIS CHURCH, THIS CHURCH, THE ONE HE FOUNDED ON THE ROCK OF ST. PETER. But we are sinners. We are good but our natures are fallen and we are prone to disobedience and sinfulness, even with the love we share with Jesus and each other. That is where mercy enters. Quite frankly, that’s where Jesus enters.
It is Jesus Himself who dispenses mercy to us through a sacrament. That sacrament is “confession,” “penance,” or “reconciliation.” In today’s gospel, we see the scriptural basis for it. This glorified, risen Jesus gives His Apostles the same mission God gave Him, forgiveness of sins, MERCY. The Apostles will exercise this mission in the name and authority of Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus breathes His Holy Spirit on each of them. The meaning is clear: Jesus has given His Apostles the authority to remit and retain sins in a church, a judicial tribunal, if you will. Jesus tells His Apostles “Peace be with you”; and breathes on them. This remittance of sins is Christ-given. Jesus clearly intends to do this to His Apostles. So when St. Thomas is absent, Jesus does do the same thing to him that second week, when Thomas was with the Apostles. Confession, penance, or reconciliation, is a scripturally-based sacrament of this Roman Catholic Church for our benefit, to unite us with Jesus, in His Church, with each other.
Jesus gives us His Divine Mercy in a wonderful sacrament, confession. Jesus does this to unite us to Him in love, unity. Jesus does this in anticipation of that day, when we come before Him and hope to be united with Him forever in heaven. Unity and mercy are united on this Divine Mercy Sunday. That is what Easter is all about. That is why we should care about this to the point where we will declare, like St. Thomas, “MY LORD AND MY GOD!”
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018
“He saw and he believed.” The big scene is the empty tomb: initially. Quite frankly, now that Jesus has risen from the dead at Easter, the big scene shifts to a believer: John the Evangelist. Peter is perplexed by what he sees. John sees and believes, with very little evidence. Jesus’s body is gone. They see the burial wrappings and the face napkin rolled up neatly to one side, and nothing more than that. John chooses to believe while seeing very little. John believes with little evidence.
There is a reason why John believes with little evidence. It is because of his intense love for Jesus Christ. Intensity of love leads to instant belief, instant faith. That same love will enable John to recognize Jesus when others do not. Body snatchers had not removed Jesus from His tomb. John perceives the truth immediately. John the Evangelist is the shining example of how we must love Jesus Christ. What a great opportunity we have to do that by coming to Holy Mass and receiving Jesus Christ lovingly into our souls by Holy Eucharist-His Body, His Blood, His graces, His Sacred Heart, in each of us because we love Him so much we will obey Him and become like Him.
St. Paul explains this in his letter to the Colossians. He says the Christians there have been raised with Jesus Christ. They’re freed from serving cosmic and pagan powers. But this freedom brings responsibility. They have duties and responsibilities to uphold. One major one is to seek what is above, not what is below. Jesus Christ is above, seated in a place of honor at God’s right hand. St. Paul wants Christians to install Jesus in the place of honor in one’s soul. Another is to avoid concerns about worldly, non-spiritual matters. In baptism, they have died to all of that. They arise, a new creation with a share in the risen life of Christ. Do not become lost in earthly occupations.
In the first reading from Acts, St. Peter is the leader of this Church of Jesus Christ. He speaks to the household of a Roman centurion, Cornelius. Cornelius is a Gentile and a pagan. Peter’s message to them is the Good News. Jesus Christ is a Savior. That is authenticated by Jesus’s words and deeds. And God accepts both Jews and Gentiles who act rightly. God is impartial. The one who fears God and acts uprightly is acceptable to God. Jesus Christ is Lord of all and all who believe in Jesus will receive forgiveness of their sins and salvation. The apostles are witnesses to this, to Him. All who are in the right dispositions are acceptable and are capable of receiving God’s gifts and God’s forgiveness. This is true regardless of nationality.
This is God’s saving plan. Jesus Christ, God’s Own Son, brings us salvation through everything He did during this Easter Triduum. Holy Mother Church, in Her infinite wisdom, points out that all of Jesus’s acts from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday unite to save us. If there is no Eucharist, there is no Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to restore us to sanctifying grace. If there is no death on the Cross, there is no atoning sacrifice for our sins. If there is no blood shed, our sins are not washed away by His corresponding graces. If there is no resurrection, there is no eternal life.
So therefore, what should we know? That God loves us so much that He sacrificed His Only Begotten Son on Calvary to save us. He gave us eternal life in Jesus’s Resurrection from the dead. Jesus has given us His Body and Blood in Eucharist, to unite us with Him in sanctifying grace. All of this is in the Easter Triduum and in God’s salvific plan. What must we do? We must develop a deep, intense, personal love for Jesus Christ. Do attend Holy Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. Do receive Jesus Christ’s forgiveness of sins in Confession and all of the graces He wishes to give you in Eucharist, Holy Communion, His very own Real Presence. Set our souls on the spiritual priorities which are above and turn away from the material and sinful concerns which are below. And why should we care on this Easter Sunday? We should care because God the Father has loved us so much that He has actually lavished His Forgiveness, His Love, and His Mercy on us. God the Father has indulged us with salvation by the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son, His Own Son, His Only Begotten Son, in whom He is well-pleased, Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ loves us so much that He accepted lovingly His part in this salvific plan, which has been completed. Nothing else is needed. Satan, sin, and death are defeated. God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, love us so much that they are absolutely convinced that each one of us, no matter how wretched, how sinful, how horrible we are, is worth saving. He refuses to believe anything else.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for Good Friday, March 30, 2018:
Cardinal Robert Sarah said “The Cross is the center of the world, the heart of mankind, and the place where our stability is anchored.” He is right. The Cross is the altar upon which Jesus Christ offered His Own Body and Blood as the sacrifice for our salvation. It was on the Cross that Jesus Christ poured out His Most Innocent Blood for our redemption. It is on the Cross that Jesus’s very own Temple was nailed, His Own Body. The entire world has seen His Sacrifice in the Temple of His Body, on the Cross. It is on the Cross that Jesus Christ died His most bitter death. Then, after His death, Jesus rose and became immortal. He entered the holy of holies in heaven and showed His Sacrifice to His Father on behalf of us who are subject to sin. Jesus’s sacrifice is sufficient and it is eternal. God’s sacrifice of His Son gives us a new beginning.
For us, all of us who pursue true contrition and penance for our sins and who are determined to not commit them again and who pursue virtue are forgiven through this one, holy, and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ, on the Cross. God’s sacrifice of His Son has given us forgiveness of our sins.
The Cross of Jesus Christ is powerful. The condemnation of the sins of the world is present on it, in the form of the body of Jesus Christ, God’s Own Son. We see Jesus’s condemnation and God the Father’s compassion. God sent His Son into the world to die for wicked sinners. Jesus died on the Cross. He atoned for our sins. And, furthermore, Jesus died on the Cross and rose from death in the tomb. Jesus has destroyed the permanence of death. “As all die in Adam, so all will be brought to life in Christ.” God’s sacrifice of His Son has given us eternal life.
The Cross of Jesus Christ unites all people in His Salvation. We are a new people of God. We are the new Israel, the Church of Christ. He has acquired us with His Own Blood, filled us with His Holy Spirit, and enabled us to be unified.
Jesus has done all of this for us by being the great high priest, who has offered the sacrifice of His Own Body and Blood, in the Temple of His Own Body.
That is what has happened on Good Friday. And God the Father Himself in the first reading has said that His plan to save us will succeed. It has. The upshot of all this is that we have a “great high priest” present in the heavens, Jesus. He intercedes for us with His very own sacrifice of His Own Body, His very self. It happened on Good Friday, two thousand years ago, on the Cross, the center of the world, the heart of mankind, and the place where our stability, our salvation, is anchored.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, March 25, 2018:
The hour has come. St. Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus Christ enters Jerusalem. Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly. The people welcome Jesus as the Messiah who comes in the name of the Lord. Jesus is the king who will restore the kingdom of David. By the end of the week, many of these same people will reject Jesus, call for His Crucifixion, and accept a murderer and insurrectionist named Barabbas in Jesus’s place. Jesus will be betrayed and crucified and He knows it. Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem is a mark of complete obedience to His Father. Jesus will suffer and die to enact the New Covenant God has promised. Jesus will be the source and summit of our salvation.
To do all of this, Jesus assumes the identity of a suffering servant. In Isaiah’s reading, God reassures His Suffering Servant that He will persevere and succeed in carrying out His Mission. So Jesus, the Suffering Servant, will persevere in adversity and betrayal, and ignore His own personal welfare. God will uphold Him. Jesus will be so abandoned, betrayed, and rejected that He will cry out from the Cross Psalm 22-“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” This psalm literally refers to Jesus Christ. No one else has suffered like Him. The outcome of Jesus’s suffering and death will be the universal salvation of Jew and Gentile alike. St. Paul writes that Jesus freely empties Himself of the rights and status He deserves as Son of God. Jesus assumes Adam’s state of corruption and slavery to sin. Jesus then humbles Himself all the more by undergoing a public, shameful, and wretched death, forsaken by everyone.
It is easy to say “Jesus suffered;” “Jesus died, nailed to the Cross;” “Jesus was abandoned;” and “Jesus was betrayed.” Jesus forgives everyone from His Cross: those who had plotted His death, those who abandoned Him for their own personal safety, and others who turned on Him after waving palms and laying cloaks before Him as He enters Jerusalem. Perhaps some of us have experienced some of that same betrayal and rejection in our lives. If so, you understand to a deeper degree Jesus’s suffering as a servant. That depth of forgiveness and mercy that we are called to transforms us in the same way that Jesus will be transformed on Easter Sunday, which is the culmination of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on this day, two thousand years ago.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Fourth Sunday of Lent Homily: March 11, 2018
“Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for He had compassion on His people and His dwelling place.” This verse from Second Chronicles describes God’s love for Judah. God warned the people and the priests of Judah “early and often” of their unfaithfulness to Him and the abominations they practiced in His Temple. God lovingly called them back, urged them to stop, and desired them to repent. God seeks to reconcile with them and to put them on the right way. That is God’s nature, to have compassion on his people.
That Old Testament passage mirrors the verse in John’s Gospel today: “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” That passage describes God’s nature today, towards us. God loves us. We need redemption. Redemption comes exclusively from God’s Son, Jesus Christ. So therefore, we need Jesus Christ. Why? We need Jesus because Jesus’s Incarnation is united to His Redemption of us. Jesus will redeem us by offering up His Body as a sacrifice. His sacrifice will atone for our sinfulness. Jesus will lift up His Body as a sacrifice on the cross. “Lifted up” means crucifixion.
We need Jesus because Jesus’s direct mission is salvation. The motivation to save us from sin is God’s and Jesus’s love for us. That is why God delivered His Only Son to death. He did it with a view to the salvation of every believer from sin and to bring everyone to an eternal life of happiness with Him in heaven.
Jesus asks us to believe in Him. Mankind makes its own judgement by their attitude toward Him. He who believes, repents, is changed for the better, and incurs no damnation. But he who refuses to believe is already damned because he chooses to make himself an unbeliever in the name, mission, and divinity of Jesus Christ.
We need Jesus because God has made us, and we have made ourselves sinners. This Lent we are urged to destroy what we have made, sin, through repentance and belief in Jesus. By doing that, God can save what He has made: us. Repent from sin and love God’s work in you. How can we do that? By going to confession. The beginning of good works is the confessing of bad works. Salvation is belief in Jesus accompanied by deeds done in God. May we cooperate with the truth and come to the light. That way our works can be seen as done in God. We have been made in Jesus Christ for good works. Salvation is from Jesus and good works are an integral part of the Christian life.
Our disposition must be completely opposite from the people and priests of Judah. Our disposition must be completely opposite from one who does wicked things and hates the light, in order to preserve his sinfulness.
So what must we know? That Jesus Christ is God’s Son and is going to be lifted up on the Cross to atone for our sins and save us. What must we do? Have a right disposition towards God. Good will and a right heart will help us to repent from our sins and welcome Jesus Christ in us. Be open to His Grace and act on His Grace through faith. Continue going to confession, continue prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to strengthen your right disposition towards Jesus. Why should we care? Because the people of Judah in the Old Testament rejected God and incurred His punishment. That is completely opposite what God wanted to do for them. We should care because God cares, that much.