Books of the Bible Index of Homilies
Matthew Mark Luke John The Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Tobit Judith Esther 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes The Song of Songs The Book of Wisdom Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
This Sunday’s Gospel Reading (Lk 9:51-62) shows a very important step in Christ’s life: the moment when, as St Luke writes: “He [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem” (9:51). Jerusalem is the final destination where Jesus, at his last Passover, must die and rise again and thus bring his mission of salvation to fulfilment.
From that moment, after that “firm decision” Jesus aimed straight for his goal and in addition said clearly to the people he met and who asked to follow him what the conditions were: to have no permanent dwelling place; to know how to be detached from human affections and not to give in to nostalgia for the past.
Jesus, however, also told his disciples to precede him on the way to Jerusalem and to announce his arrival, but not to impose anything: if the disciples did not find a readiness to welcome him, they should go ahead, they should move on. Jesus never imposes, Jesus is humble, Jesus invites. If you want to, come. The humility of Jesus is like this: he is always inviting but never imposing.
All of this gives us food for thought. It tells us, for example, of the importance which the conscience had for Jesus too: listening in his heart to the Father’s voice and following it. Jesus, in his earthly existence, was not, as it were “remote-controlled”: he was the incarnate Word, the Son of God made man, and at a certain point he made the firm decision to go up to Jerusalem for the last time; it was a decision taken in his conscience, but not alone: together with the Father, in full union with him! He decided out of obedience to the Father and in profound and intimate listening to his will. For this reason, moreover, his decision was firm, because it was made together with the Father. In the Father Jesus found the strength and light for his journey. And Jesus was free, he took that decision freely. Jesus wants us to be Christians, freely as he was, with the freedom which comes from this dialogue with the Father, from this dialogue with God. Jesus does not want selfish Christians who follow their own ego, who do not talk to God. Nor does he want weak Christians, Christians who have no will of their own, “remote-controlled” Christians incapable of creativity, who always seek to connect with the will of someone else and are not free. Jesus wants us free. And where is this freedom created? It is created in dialogue with God in the person’s own conscience. If a Christian is unable to speak with God, if he cannot hear God in his own conscience, he is not free, he is not free.
This is why we must learn to listen to our conscience more. But be careful! This does not mean following my own ego, doing what interests me, what suits me, what I like.... It is not this! The conscience is the interior place for listening to the truth, to goodness, for listening to God; it is the inner place of my relationship with him, the One who speaks to my heart and helps me to discern, to understand the way I must take and, once the decision is made, to go forward, to stay faithful.
We have had a marvellous example of what this relationship with God is like, a recent and marvellous example. Pope Benedict XVI gave us this great example when the Lord made him understand, in prayer, what the step was that he had to take. With a great sense of discernment and courage, he followed his conscience, that is, the will of God speaking in his heart. And this example of our Father does such great good to us all, as an example to follow.
Our Lady, in her inmost depths with great simplicity was listening to and meditating on the Word of God and on what was happening to Jesus. She followed her Son with deep conviction and with steadfast hope. May Mary help us to become increasingly men and women of conscience, free in our conscience, because it is in the conscience that dialogue with God takes place; men and women, who can hear God’s voice and follow it with determination, who can listen to God’s voice, and follow it with decision.
Man left to his own strength does not understand the things of the Spirit. There are two spirits, two ways of thinking, of feeling, of acting: that which leads me to the Spirit of God, and that which leads me to the spirit of the world. And this happens in our life: We all have these two ‘spirits,’ we might say. The Spirit of God, which leads us to good works, to charity, to fraternity, to adore God, to know Jesus, to do many good works of charity, to pray: this one. And [there is] the other spirit, of the world, which leads us to vanity, pride, sufficiency, gossip – a completely different path. Our heart, a saint once said, is like a battlefield, a field of war where these two spirits struggle.
In the life of the Christian, then, we must fight in order to make room for the Spirit of God, and “drive away the spirit of the world. And, a daily examination of conscience can help to identify temptations, to clarify how these opposing forces work.
It is very simple: We have this great gift, which is the Spirit of God, but we are weak, we are sinners, and we still have the temptation of the spirit of the world. In this spiritual combat, in this war of the spirit, we need to be victors like Jesus.
Every night, a Christian should think over the events of the past day, to determine whether “vanity” and “pride” prevailed, or whether he or she has succeeded in imitating the Son of God
To recognize the things that occur in the heart. If we do not do this, if we do not know what happens in our heart – and I don’t say this, the Bible does – we are like ‘animals that understand nothing,’ that move along through instinct. But we are not animals, we are children of God, baptized with the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, it is important to understand what has happened each day in my heart. May the Lord teach us always, every day, to make an examination of conscience.
It is wise to make an examination of conscience, in view of the fact that we will one day face the Lord. We should ask how we wish to present ourselves when we meet Him. It will help us make progress so that that meeting will be a “joyful” moment.
It is a grace to think about the end of the world and the end of our lives. The First Reading from the Book of Revelation speaks about that using “the figure of the harvest”.
At the harvest, each of us will meet the Lord…each will say to the Lord: ‘This is my life…. This is the quality of my life.’
All of us will have to admit our errors, because everyone errs, and the good done, because everyone does good.
What if the Lord were to call me today? What would I say and do? This thought, helps us make progress. Not only will we meet the Lord in order to give an account of ourselves. It will also be a joyous, happy moment, one filled with mercy.
Thinking about the end, about the end of the world, about the end of one’s own life, is wise. Wise people do this.
The Church invites us to ask ourselves this week, “what will my end be like?” An examination of conscience is useful in order to evaluate ourselves.
What would I like to fix because it doesn’t work? What would I like to sustain or develop because it’s good….
This is the Spirit’s work.
This week, let’s ask the Holy Spirit for the wisdom of time, the wisdom regarding the end, the wisdom of the resurrection, the wisdom of the eternal encounter with Jesus… It will be a joyful day, that meeting with Jesus. Let us pray so that the Lord might prepare us.
Wisdom is a daily thing that comes from reflection on life and from stopping to think about how one lives. Follow your instincts, your strength, follow the passions of your heart. We all have passions, but one must be careful to dominate them.
Passions are not bad things, but they need to be managed. They are the blood that helps to do many good things but if you are not able to dominate them, they will dominate you.
We are not eternal, we cannot do whatever we want, trusting in the infinite mercy of God.
So don't be rash and reckless and believe that you will get away with it. You may get away with it once but you don’t know what’s next.
Don't say: "God's compassion is great, he'll forgive me my many sins", and so I continue doing what I want. Regarding this, the advice of the father or grandfather is: Don’t wait to convert yourself to the Lord, do not wait to convert, to change your lives, to improve your life, to take away from you that weed, all we have, take it out. . don’t postpone it from day to day because the anger of the Lord will suddenly burst forth.
Let’s take a little time every day to examine our conscience, to convert to the Lord. "But tomorrow I'll try that this does not happen again." It will happen, maybe a little less, but if you manage to control yourself and not be controlled by your passion, perhaps it may happen less. But no one is sure of how and when our life will end. Five minutes at the end of each day will help us to think and not postpone a change of heart and conversion to the Lord. Let us pray that the Lord teaches us with his wisdom to go along this path.
Today is the “Day of Conscience”, inspired by the witness of the Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who around 80 years ago decided to follow the voice of his conscience and saved the lives of thousands of Jews and other persecuted peoples. May freedom of conscience be respected always and everywhere, and may every Christian give the example of the consistency of an upright conscience enlightened by the Word of God.