Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Homily: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

This is the first homily I recorded using my new recorder and the quality is much better, so thanks to the anonymous donor!


Anonymous said...

Great homily, Father!
I think your examples were right on.

Anonymous said...

Was God talking about letting people in, or letting HIM in.

God wants a relationship, not a religion... not outside holiness but an inner presence of Jesus Christ.

Father Christensen said...


God certainly wants us to let HIM in, but God usually finds His way into our lives through human instruments. I know of very few people who were not led to God through other people. God usually chooses to use human instruments, the Sacraments, and the Church to introduce Himself into our lives.

This is the way God has always worked, just look at scripture. Jesus sent out the Apostles to spread the Good News and introduce people to Jesus. This is what I was getting at in the Homily. Who is it that God has sent into our lives to lead us closer to Jesus, to help us in our relationship with Him?

God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Yes but God only has to use a person once and then He enters. Our walk with Christ should be constant conversation with Jesus. You can't get much closer than an inner presence of Jesus now can you? We don't need other people to be the instruments of our relationship with Jesus when He is more than willing to come and make His home with us.

Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Father Christensen said...

"Our walk with Christ should be constant conversation with Jesus."

Amen! I agree! But the fact of the matter is that we sin. We have the ability to reject Christ and His grace after we have received it, and then we might need a little more help from someone to get back on track. For instance, let’s say I reject Christ and commit a mortal sin. It is then that I need to receive God's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, so I go to God's instrument, the priest, and I receive Christ's mercy and some advice from the priest to help me in the future. We are weak, and we fall, so we need constant encouragement and help from those around us.

Could God do it without people? Yes. But He has chosen (you can read all about it in Scripture) and continues to choose to work through human instruments. It's all about the Incarnation. Jesus became a man to be able to reach out to us in a human way. Could God have just spiritually saved us and forgiven our sins and came to dwell in us? Sure, but He chose to become one of us, to reach out to us in the flesh, as one of us.

I know that I certainly need people to be His instruments because sometimes I am hard headed and need a swift kick in the rear to stay on track. I need prophets and priests, teachers and apostles to assist me in staying close to Jesus. I need people much wiser than me to advise me on how to best serve God and grow closer to Him.

Anonymous said...

Jesus did sacrifice Himself on the cross for that very purpose. To become our high priest and intercede for us when we sin. Why would we need to confess our sins to mere men when we can boldly approach God's throne through Jesus Himself?

HEBREWS 9:11-15: But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Anonymous said...

No response?

Father Christensen said...

"Why would we need to confess our sins to mere men when we can boldly approach God's throne through Jesus Himself?"

This is exactly what I do when I go to confession. I approach God's throne through Jesus Himself. This is what the Catholic Church believes about the Sacrament of Penance. The Catechism itself (paragraph 1441) says "Only God forgives sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, "The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" and exercises this divine power."

As Catholics we believe that God, however, chooses to use "mere men" to be instruments of HIS forgiveness. We see this in John 20:19-23. Jesus comes to the Apostles when they are alone and behind locked doors. The fact that they are alone is important because it shows that Jesus was speaking ONLY to them, and to nobody else. He says to them "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If YOU forgive the sins of any, they ARE FORGIVEN; if YOU retain them, they are retained." So clearly Jesus Himself gave His own authority to forgive and retain sins to mere men. And since they have the authority not only to forgive sins but also retain them implies that the sins must be confessed, otherwise how could they make a judgment as to whether the sin should be forgiven or retained?

We also see that priests have the authority to forgive sin in James 5:14-16. James says “Is any among you sick? Call for the PRESBYTERS (a Greek word for priests) of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he WILL BE FORGIVEN.” So again we see the priests of the early Church being instruments of God’s own forgiveness. Through their prayer of faith, the sins of the sick are forgiven. And notice also that it wasn’t just any Christian who had this authority, but only the presbyters, who had received the Authority from Jesus Himself or by the laying on of hands by the Apostles.

We need to be clear, however, that the priest on his own authority cannot forgive sins, it is only because God is working through him; GOD FORGIVES THE SINS, but through the instrument of the priest. From these and many other passages in Scripture we clearly see that for reasons known only to Jesus, He wanted us to seek HIS forgiveness through human instruments. To deny this is to deny what the Scriptures plainly teaches us.

So, let’s review: Jesus gave His apostles and his priests His own authority to forgive sins. Why? I don’t know: you will have to ask him when you get to heaven. But that’s what He did and neither you nor I can change that fact. If this is true, and it is, then we should do what Jesus wants and seek His forgiveness through the ministry of “mere men.”

Anonymous said...

What version of the bible are you using? My bible doesn’t mention priests in that verse…

James 5:14 Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

I looked up the word ‘presbuteros’ in greek and it means elders.
The word ‘achiereis’ means priests, which is not even mentioned in the verse in greek at all. (I just checked)

Father Christensen said...

I am using the New American Bible, and it uses the word "presbyters." When I looked it up it is, as you say, defined as elder. But there is a second definition which is "an officer or minister in the early Christian Church intermediate between a bishop and a deacon." A priest is the intermediate between a bishop and a deacon.

But, alas, we have digressed from my origional point. Whether we say priest or elder there is still a "mere man" who has been given Christ's own authority to forgive sins. Correct?

We also have the passage from John 20 that clearly states the Apostles were given the authority to forgive sins on behalf of Our Lord.

fr. g said...

The usage of the term "priest" in the Christian tradition etymologically comes from the Greek word presbyteros/presbyter.

It does literally mean "elder" but over time the usage of "priest" became the common term.

So whether its translated elder, presbyter, or priest its all refering to the same role.