Dear fellow Catholics,
In the absence of Holy Mass today, please see Fr. Trauner’s sermon for this Sunday:
Sermon for Passion Sunday, April 2nd 2017
My dearly beloved in Our Lord,
“Therefore you do not listen, because you are not of God.” Thus Our Lord addresses the Jews, his brothers and sisters, who do not want to acknowledge that he is the true Son of God made man.
Christ’s logic is implacable: “Which of you shall convince me of sin?” His doctrine and his life are perfectly truthful and morally good. Never ever has anyone been able to convince him of sin, neither in matters grave nor light. Many have tried – but he has always stood his ground. – Also, his works are good. They are beneficial for the body and the soul of those with whom he gets into contact. Some of his miracles undisputedly bear the seal of God’s doing – as the blind-born man healed in ch.9 of St John’s Gospel clearly says: “Never has it been heard… He certainly is a Prophet.” (cf. Gospel of last Wed.) – So they have no objective reason not to believe Christ; they must conclude that he is the Messiah promised by the whole Old Testament. But they fail to do so because of their wickedness, their earthlyness and their spiritual blindness.
Earlier in the same ch. 8 of St John from which today’s Gospel was read, they had dared to bring before him a woman just caught in adultery. How sad and how disgusted Jesus must have been in the sight of this kind of sin. The Jews wanted it to be a trap: Either he would stick to the law of Moses and say that she must be put to death; or he would let her off the hook, thus showing that his commiseration for sinners was just weakness – so they thought: “This they said tempting him, that they might accuse him” (v.6). Jesus did not answer their accusations. But when pressed to pronounce himself, he said: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (v.7) Certainly he meant, and they understood that he was insinuating the same kind of sin that this woman had committed. So what happened? “But they hearing this, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest.” (v.9)
Thus Our Lord fulfilled what he had taught in the sermon on the mountain: “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5,48) What is impossible for the limited nature of a mere creature, becomes possible by grace. Not only shall the children of God refrain from sinning. They shall also refrain from judging the sins of others. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt 5,7) “Judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy. And mercy exalteth itself above judgment.” (Jac 2,13)
It is extremely difficult for the “modern” mind to bring together mercy and justice; pardoning and judgment. God is infinitely merciful and infinitely just. Only in this way was it possible for Him to find a means which would both restore his justice offended by our sins and keep up his fatherly mercy wanting to deliver us from Hell. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak trough the flesh; God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and of sin, hath condemned sin in the flesh; That the justification of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.” (Rom 8,3-4)
The unbelieving Jews, in today’s Gospel, live entirely according to the flesh. The spirit of God’s law was lost on them, they thought they could live by its letter only. Thus they were blind for any kind of divine light; and they could not listen to Our Lord who wanted to give them the law of life.
In this the Jews are a constant reminder for us, the children of God. How hard do we find it to hear Christ and to follow his teachings! This is solely because of the hardness of our heart which proceeds from our love of the flesh, i.e. of the things of earth as opposed to the things of Heaven.
We must constantly “kill the Jew in our own self”, lest we end up like Our Lord’s contemporaries.
We have a great desire, and indeed are in great need of daily food for our body. – But this easily makes us to forget that the food for our soul is much more important still, and we so little desire or appreciate Christ feeding us with his own body and flesh, in the Holy Eucharist. How sad it is to see adults and children alike just about “fleeing” after Holy Communion or Mass… or sitting down nonchalantly while they should be making their fervent thanksgiving for what they have just received. (cf. Communion verse of this Mass, the words of Consecration!)
How often have we physically failed or refused to hear Christ’s words. Often enough a good inspiration crosses our mind – during a spiritual reading, during a sermon or otherwise: thoughts of amendment, or of forgiveness, or of improvement. But we have nothing more urgent to do than to forget about it and convince ourselves that “one must remain balanced”, “you must not take these things literally”, “that is good for the Saints, but not for us”…
Our Lord has taken his Father’s will very literally. He did not seek to make an impossible balancing act in order to get out of the ordeal of his passion and death.
As times get harder and harder for the few remaining souls of good will, we need to convince ourselves that it is “all or nothing”, “take it or leave it”. Acting prudently does not include acting like wimps.
Passiontide is my favorite season of the liturgical year because it leads our mind back to those strong and central ideas of the Christian life:
Christ making himself obedient unto death, saving us through his obedience, by submitting and aligning his human will with the divine will.
In his Cross alone salvation can be found. “Stat Crux, dum volvitur orbis. – The Cross is standing, while the world is turning.” “O Crux, ave, spes unica. – Hail, o Cross, only hope.”
May Our Lady, whose seven Sorrows Holy Church celebrates on Friday after Passion Sunday, through her unspeakable sufferings and through our Lenten exercises inspire each one of us with that great thirst and hunger for justice which Our Lord calls blessed.
If you wish to take a copy for yourself please find it here: sermon 170402EN PassionSun
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