Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
August 30th, 2015
Year B

Every so often critics of the Catholic Church will make remarks about what they deem to be an hypocrisy with regard to the sacrament of confession. They think that confession is some sort of green light to do all the sinning a person feels like and then come to confession and its all wiped away. As the comedian Jim Gaffigan puts it, while at Mass: “could you speed this up Padre, I got some sinning to do!” NB: Gaffigan is a comedian, is actually a good Catholic, and he just being funny – as Chesterton put it: “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it”. He makes a good point though. People do not understand the meaning of this sacrament. So, they attack a false idea of confession. Remember: we have to be sorry for our sins; we have to make a firm resolve to avoid sin and amend our lives. This is our part when it comes to confession. If we bring the sincerity of our sorrow and shame, God does His part, He the mercy through ministry and words of the priest.

All of this is to comment on the words of Jesus in Gospel today when He talks about that which comes from within a person – from the heart: “evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly…” In other words, all those things, sinful intentions, that separate us from God. He lists twelve sinful thoughts and deeds. The first six are plural, indicating that they are acts. The second six are singular, indicating that they interior dispositions. All these come from within and they are what defile us. His point is that defilement is not ceremonial but rather moral and is a matter of the heart – a matter that comes from the very depths of our being. His point is that due to original sin, there is a tendency within us to sin – an inclination to seek that which is an apparent good over and above the true good; a tendency to be selfish and seek that which is self-gratifying, sensual rather than seek to be selfless, self-giving, and sacrifice.
It is fitting then to ask: is it possible to overcome this? Is there a remedy? Yes! Confession! St. John Chrysostom helps out too in his homily on the temptations of the devil. He explains that there are five paths of repentance that lead us to conversion, to interior change, to dispositions of virtue and holiness and ultimately to heaven. The five are these:
1. Condemnation of your own sins: be the first to admit your sins so that the Lord can forgive you. A person who condemns his sins will be slow to commit them again.
2. Forgive our enemies: put out of your minds the harm done to you by your enemies in order to master your anger and forgive. In this way, our sins will be forgiven when we have the ability to forgive others.
3. Prayer: fervent prayer, careful prayer that comes from the heart.
4. Almsgiving: whether it be material, financial, or spiritual – the grace here is powerful and far-reaching.
5. Humility: live modestly and humbly.

St. John goes on to exhort us to live these 5 paths of repentance daily. We can always set aside anger, we can always be humble, we have the ability pray diligently and with sincerity, we can acknowledge our sins – and I will add: bring it all to confession where, through words, gestures and ministry of the priest, these remedies are applied to the wounds of our souls caused by our sins and there we find the necessary grace and mercy to turn that which was once a soul defiled by sin into a soul made beautiful in the eyes of the Lord. In this way, St. John concludes, we can approach the table of the Lord with confidence, go gloriously to meet Christ the King and attain eternal blessings.


Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

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