HOMIILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ORDINAR – CYCLE A
BISHOP RENE HENRY GRACIDA
Almighty ever-living God,
who govern all things,
both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of your people
and bestow your peace on our times.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, One God,
for ever and ever.
It is comforting that the opening prayer for today’s Mass asks God to bestow peace on our times.
It is comforting because while we are entering a period which seems to offer us peace in terms of the Federal government, at the same time we seem to be entering a period of controversy and division in our mother, the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
I am referring to the controversy over the proposal of some Cardinals to allow priests to give Holy Communion to individuals who are living in an invalid marriage, even a same-sex ‘so-called’ marriage.
Such proposals fly in the face of the explicit teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Gospel and the 2,000 years of magisterial teaching by His Church.
We must trust the Lord to help His Church through this crisis. We have been blessed up until now that since the First Vatican Council in the last quarter of the 19th Century the Church has been free from internal division. We have not had any of the turmoil that characterized the Fourth Century during the Arian controversy, or the 16th Century with the schisms caused by the Protestant Reformation.
Now every Catholic must begin to strengthen their faith in the promises of Our Lord Jesus Christ through prayer and the reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion.
Above all, we must deepen our trust in the Lord and be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel of today’s Mass makes a pointed reference to the role of the Holy Spirit. We are shown this in the relation between Jesus Christ and Saint John the Baptist.
In Luke 1:41-42 we read: No sooner had Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, than the child (Saint John the Baptist) leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy Spirit …. and cried out “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb….no sooner did I hear your voice than the child in my womb leaped for joy!
In the Prologue to his Gospel Saint John the Evangelist told how Saint John the Baptist preceded Jesus as His witness.
In today’s Gospel Saint John the Evangelist wrote of the relationship of the Holy Spirit between Saint John the Baptist and Jesus Christ:
I (John the Baptist) saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon Him (Jesus Christ)….He (God the Father) who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, He (Jesus Christ) is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
The present crisis in the Church began initially with the widening of the intellectual gap between those who placed the emphasis on the doctrinal teaching of Jesus Christ regarding the permanence of sacramental marriage and the pastoral practice of Jesus in forgiving (having mercy) on sinners and the pastoral teaching of Saint Paul regarding receiving the Eucharist unworthily.
Saint John the Baptist had his head cut off by Herod because he condemned Herod’s taking of his brother’s wife as his own.
Our Lord Jesus Christ had not yet given us the Eucharist and so unworthy reception of the Eucharist was not an issue, and Jesus had perhaps not yet spoken about the permanence of marriage, so Saint John the Baptist, prompted by the Holy Spirit, condemned Herod under God’s law as revealed by the prophets in the Old Testament.
We do have the benefit of traditional teaching of the Church as expressed clearly in two documents written by Saint John Paul II:
The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio
and the Encyclical Veritatis Splendor.
Guided by the Holy Spirit and those two documents which sum up the doctrinal teaching of the Church on the subjects of marriage and the moral law, we must resist pastoral innovations such as giving Holy Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics who had previously entered a sacramental marriage.
Come O Holy Spirit,
beloved of my soul, I adore You.
Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me,
and console me.
Tell me what I must do.
Inspire me with what I must say.
Give me your orders.
I promise to submit myself to You
in all that You ask of me and I accept all
that you permit to happen to me.
Let me only know Your will,
and I will do Your will.