By: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (January 21, 2018):
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” Jesus Christ says those three powerful sentences to every human being that lives, has lived, and will live. Those sentences are life-changing. Their foundation is Jesus Christ Himself, His Life and presence here on earth, His Redemption, the Salvation He has won for us and offers to us, and the kingship He now exercises in His Messianic Kingdom. We are encouraged to enter into His Kingdom right now, by repentance. So what is repentance? Repentance is the means for us to prepare to enter into the Messianic Kingdom of Jesus. We must repent from sin because that is what Jesus the Messiah offers us salvation from. Jesus is the Messiah who saves us from sin, which separates us from God. Repentance in the New Testament means an uncompromising and faithful change of our attitudes, our actions, our values, our affections. It also means a complete and faithful acceptance of the good news in the gospels that Jesus Christ proclaims. Jesus’s call to repentance that deep continues today in this Church. We know that because Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James, and John and others to be His immediate disciples. Christ’s redeeming mission continues today, after His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. It continues in this Church, the one Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to. The successors to His immediate Apostles are accredited teachers of the Gospel to this very day.
Jesus does not leave us orphans. He is present to us to help us repent. Jesus is present in the sacraments this Church offers. Confession and Eucharist are two which particularly help us to repent from sin. Jesus preaches that the very power of God is available to those who open themselves to Him in His Sacraments and exercise His Gospel-way of loving service.
That what the Ninevites did. They turned from their evil ways. When God saw Nineveh’s complete, sincere turning away from sin, God repented from the destruction He promised them. He did not carry it out. Notice the interaction of two words: “turn” and “repent.” When God saw by their actions how they TURNED from their evil way, He REPENTED of the evil that He had threatened to do to them; He did not carry it out. If the people turn, Yahweh repents. Those two verbs converge into the repentance spoken of in the New Testament. The sinner turns or bends and changes the course of his or her life, one’s actions, one’s beliefs. The sinner repents by feeling regret for one’s sins and changes his or her mind to reject sinfulness. Jesus compliments the Ninevites for their repentance.
We will not repent by ourselves. We will repent with the grace and the very power of God Himself in the sacraments of this Church. Confession and Eucharist are two very big ones.
Notice that the entire city of Nineveh repents, including the king. The king proclaims a fast and commands that “every man shall turn from his evil way.” Even a powerful king believes God’s message of repentance. That is encouraging to us who are called to build a culture of life in this country. God accompanies us with His Own Power, His Grace, to help us to build the very kingdom He wants to establish. It is a kingdom of holiness, forgiveness, love, mercy, and life. We start by praying. We continue by turning from our sins, we speak up, and we persuade others by speaking out for a better culture to replace the culture of death that supports abortion and physician-assisted suicide. That better culture is the culture of life which includes a man and a woman in love and in marriage. It includes a child or children who are grounded in happiness and stability because they know that their mother and father are faithfully and lovingly married and that life is respected and revered. God will not let one word of ours fall to the ground without effect.
We must repent of our individual sins and our society must repent of its collective sins. The time to speak out for a culture of life is now. The place to speak out for a culture of life is here. May we begin.
By: Fr. Scott Karnik
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 14)
This is the anatomy of a call from God: God calls. We hear. We respond, “Here I am.” And then we run to the one who has called us and say “Here I am. You called me.” This is the heart of today’s reading from First Samuel. God calls Samuel to be a priest and a prophet. Samuel will be such a great prophet and priest that God will not permit any word of Samuel to be without effect. And the Lord was with Samuel. And Samuel was willingly obedient to God. God chooses Samuel for that very reason.
God is calling us too. God certainly calls obedient and willing men and women to serve faithfully as priests, nuns, and laity. Read the first three chapters of the First Book of Samuel. You will see a married couple, especially the woman, pray to have children, especially a first-born son, whom she promises to give to the Lord in the Temple. Her name is Hannah and the baby’s name is Samuel. You will also see that God grants her prayer. Hannah celebrates the birth of her son and she keeps her promise and delivers Samuel to the priest at the Temple. Samuel will be an obedient priest and prophet. God needs him to be exactly that. So the key elements in the story in the first three chapters of First Samuel are a faithful and loving married man and woman, who want to have babies. Another key element is God, to whom this couple, especially Hannah, prays to for that to happen. Those are also key elements that are needed today for God’s call to us to do something that is desperately needed-to build a culture of life in this country to replace the culture of death. We all have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on that. And the first step is our response to God’s call: “Here I am.” Faithful, loving husbands and wives who have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ are staples in a culture of life. Couples are needed to speak up for unborn babies, to stand up against abortion, and to point out a better way, to the sacrament of holy marriage. And we all must open up our hearts to help heal those women who were seduced by abortion’s call and who were ravaged by the procedure. There is another key element that is needed in a culture of life. It is a faithful, holy priesthood. If you read the first three chapters of First Samuel you will see that a faithful, holy priesthood is missing. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were extremely sinful while carrying out the office of the priesthood. Eli reprimanded them, gently. They refused to hear. They continued to sin. And they corrupted the Temple sacrifice, the very instrument needed to atone for sins. Samuel is being called to be a great and holy prophet and priest. If you notice in today’s reading, God ignores Eli, the chief priest. God calls Samuel directly and Samuel responds obediently, three times. God goes directly to Samuel, a mere boy, while the chief priest Eli, who is nearly blind, sleeps. What country does Eli’s condition remind you of today? The key elements needed to build a culture of life and to reverse the culture of death are faithful, holy, loving men and women who marry, and stay married, and who have children, and want to have children. What is also needed is a faithful, holy priesthood, and a faithful, God-fearing, holy, and vibrant church that is a moral bulwark against the scourge of abortion, this one. That is our call, given to us by God through Pope Saint John Paul the Second. It is necessary. It is necessary because God gives to each of us a specific mission. Samuel’s was to be the holy, obedient prophet and priest that Israel so desperately needed. He will anoint Israel’s greatest king, King David. Jesus’s mission was to be the “Lamb of God.” Jesus responded and obeyed. We have salvation available to us because of Him. God works through people, you and me, to build His Kingdom here on earth. A culture of death squelches God’s work before it even begins. And we are destined to succeed in this mission of building a culture of life because God is with us through His Son Jesus Christ. In the gospel, Jesus looks intently, penetratingly at Simon. Jesus tells Simon that “you will be called Cephas-which is translated Peter (rock). Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Lord changes Simon’s destiny. And Peter became the first pope of this one church that Jesus established to worship Him and to build God’s Kingdom.
The first step to all of this is, of course, prayer. But that’s not enough. We must pray so that we are willing to be changed. May we respond like Samuel and say “Here I am. You called me.”
February 12, 2017
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