Sunday, February 27, 2011

Liberal Catholicism is slavery to mammon, Sermon of February 27th

And he saith to him: Follow me. And he rose up and followed him.

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
February 20th, 2011
Matthew 6:24-34

You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.

It is not uncommon to hear people today – both those who are outside the Church and even, most regrettably, some of those who are within the Church – it is not uncommon to hear people today say something like this: “Why doesn’t the Church allow married priests?”, or “When is the Church going to get with the times and allow priests to have a wife and kids and a more normal life?” Such persons will likewise often be baffled at the thought of traditional religious life: “How can anyone be happy as a monk or nun?”, “Why does the Church still require monks and nuns to live such austere lives of poverty, chastity, and obedience?”, “Wouldn’t they be much happier if they lived more like the rest of society?”, “Didn’t the Church do away with the habits for monks and nuns after Vatican II?”
To persons such as these, it seems impossible that a man could be happy living the life of a celibate. They cannot believe that a life, separated from the world and from worldly pursuits, could be fulfilling. They are shocked – or even saddened – at the thought that some young men and women today still are willing to leave the world and enter religious life.
And what shall we say to such persons? There are, of course, many things we could say, but this alone will suffice: Persons who think such things have not yet begun to live in the freedom of the children of God, but are yet slaves of mammon. Such persons cannot believe that a man or woman could ever be happy without mammon, that is, without worldly possessions and secular pursuits. These people approach the Church from an incredibly worldly and secular perspective – they judge things according to the ways of human beings, not the ways of God.
When they desire that priests and religious should be more like ordinary people, what they really are asking is that those consecrated to the Lord should find their consolation not so much in the hope of heaven, but in the vanities of the world.

Christ tells us, “You cannot serve both God and mammon. You cannot both love God and love money, honors, and luxuries.” Therefore, our Savior commands us, “Do not worry.” How challenging this teaching is! How radically contrary to the mentality of the secular world.
The Lord does not merely say, “Do not worry about luxuries – that is, do not worry about special vacations or fancy cars and homes.” Rather, Christ tells us not to worry even about the necessities of life! We are not to be anxious about even what we will eat or what we will wear.

But the Good Jesus does not want us to be discouraged. He does not want us to despair. Therefore, he gives us three reasons why we ought not to worry, why we ought not to be anxious.
First, he points out that our worrying doesn’t do any good anyways – We cannot add a single moment to our lives through worrying. Why then should we worry? It leads only to evil.
Second, the Savior gives us an example – He directs our thoughts to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, which do not worry and are not anxious but are yet well provided for by the Almighty. And here we point out that Christ did not say, “Do not work.” He said, “Do not worry.” For, of course we are to work! The birds of the air work, and even St. Paul worked as a tentmaker during his apostolic missions. We most certainly must work, but we ought not to be anxious about our work. We ought to entrust our work to the Lord, knowing that he will make it profitable in his good time. After all, God takes care of the sparrows, and you are worth more than many sparrows.
This, then, brings our Lord to his third point – Your Father in heaven knows what you need. Why then do you worry? For God is all-powerful, and he loves you very much. Don’t you know what that means? It means that you win! If God so loves you as to give you eternal life, will he not provide you with all your necessities – but persevere, seek first his kingdom and all the rest will be given you besides.

And here I recall the words of Mother Teresa: “God is so good. If only we remembered that more often, we would be much more joyful!”