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THURSDAY HOMILY: It's the Third Week of Lent. How are we doing?

By Deacon Keith Fournier
March 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In both accounts we face the reality that even religious people can become blinded by sin. That includes you and me. Failure to turn from sin can cloud our own vision. It can even lead us to the place revealed in the Gospel account where, those who purported to be religious attribute the things of God to the things of the devil.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - It is already the third week of Lent. How are we doing? Have our Lenten resolutions borne the effects we had hoped when we offered to them to the Lord that Wednesday, after receiving ashes? Are we persevering in our struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil in our lives? Are we growing more docile to the Holy Spirit? Are we better able to see more quickly those areas in our lives under the dominion of darkness?

Our readings at Today's Mass confront us with the fact that darkness can overcome whole nations. Evil can cloud the moral vision of an entire people to the point that they no longer even recognize God. Instead, they reject His messengers, shut their ears to His Word and choose to enslave themselves by their wrong choices. We see that in many of our Old Testament readings at daily Mass throughout Lent.

Israel turns away from His faithful love and embraces false gods. Sadly, they reap the rancid fruit of their wrong choice. In the first reading for today's Mass (Jer. 7: 23-28) the Prophet Jeremiah is told by the Lord to proclaim these words of rebuke, "This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech."

Those who live in Western Nations - which once embraced the moral code revealed in the Natural Law, expounded upon in the Ten Commandments, and perfectly expressed in the Gospel - know this pattern is repeated in our day. Nations which once respected the dignity of every human life at every age and stage now protect those who reach into mothers' wombs and kill children because they are not wanted.

Nations which honored marriage - and the family and society founded upon it - now undermine marriage and persecute the family. The positive law of these nations gives legal equivalency to profane and immoral relationships of sexual use. The respect once given to the Church and religious institutions has been replaced by intolerance and persecution. A practical materialism and nihilism has led the people to erect new golden calves and dance around them. The cry of the poor falls on deaf ears as contemporary libertines stop their ears to the moral obligations of solidarity.

However, it is easier to recognize rebellion against God and His Law when it happens on a large scale. We can point to the offenders and make ourselves feel "comfortable". Instead, we are invited to turn the light of scrutiny upon ourselves. What about our own attitudes and actions? Where do we fail to see the action of God in our lives? Where do we fail to turn away from sin - and turn toward the One who alone can recreate us by His Grace?

Our Gospel for today's Mass (Luke 11:14-23) presents us with a sobering invitation to an examination of conscience. It is the story of the healing of the man who was unable to speak. After this healing, St. Luke recounts the reaction of some who experienced it in these words, "the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed. Some of them said, "By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons." Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven."

In St Matthews treatment of the incident we read similar words, "As they were going away, behold, a dumb demoniac was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, "Never was anything like this seen in Israel." But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the prince of demons (Matt. 9:32-34)"

In both accounts we face the reality that even religious people can become blinded by sin. That includes you and me. Failure to turn from sin can cloud our own vision. It can even lead us to the place revealed in the Gospel account where, those who purported to be religious attribute the things of God to the things of the devil.

Our choices matter. They not only change the world around us, but they make us to be the kinds of persons we become. What we choose either humanizes us further or leads us, ultimately, into slavery. The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses these wrong exercises of human freedom reminding us of the extraordinary implications of our use of our power to choose: "Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself." (CCC # 1861.)

It is not simply the fact that we can choose which makes us free. Rather, it is who, how and what we choose. Authentic Human Freedom will never be found in decisions that are made against God, the Natural Law and the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ and taught by his Church. We began our Forty Days of Lent hearing the admonition to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. How are we doing?

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