Thursday, 8 March 2018

3rd Sunday of Lent 4 Mar 2018 Sermon

3rd Sunday of Lent 4.3.18 Purity

Do not even mention such things as fornication and all uncleanness, says St Paul in today’s epistle (Ep 5, 1-9). However, these things are ‘mentioned’ a great deal in our current society.

The world is swimming in impurity, with indecency of every sort on the increase – such as internet pornography, and generally outrageous, defiant behaviour such as in the Mardi Gras procession (Sydney), or blasphemous festivals such as we have here (Adelaide).

Many Catholics, influenced by this public acceptance of indecency, think that the goalposts have been moved; that somehow, what used to be condemned is now alright with God. Who is going to tell God that His commandments have changed?!

No, if it was a sin back then it still is. Whether it is 2018 or 1918, some things are wrong in themselves, and just looking at the calendar cannot suddenly make them right.

Nor can any amount of public opinion change fundamental moral values. Even if a majority of people approve something (such as homosexual ‘marriage’) it cannot suddenly become alright.

What has changed is that it is now a lot easier to commit the same old sins because public acceptance has never been higher.

So things which would have been ‘shameful’ once are now taken for granted (such as ‘living together’). This does not, however, make it any less sinful.

Fortunately, it can all still be forgiven, if only people will recognize the sin and ask for God’s mercy.

Someone will say: Catholics must live in the real world, and cannot live in a ghetto; cannot be cut off from the surrounding culture.

No, but Our Lord did say, that if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off (Mt 5,30)! This means that we must take whatever steps to ensure that we do not sin.

If we live in a culture which is immersed in impurity, then fairly strong measures are required from us to stay faithful to Christ.

In everyday life, we exercise care if there is a danger around. If we were walking along a rough uneven path we walk slower. Just so, with the moral life – we are careful where we look, where we go, whom we mix with.

We just have to find our way and hold firm. Many are losing their way, even people whom we would have expected to be stronger.

How are we going to hold firm? By observing the disciplines of our faith – prayer, fasting, self-denial, good works. Just the basics over and over. It is the only way to stay sane.

We reaffirm the truths we hold, and we constantly reset our behaviour to make sure it matches those beliefs.

It was not meant to go the way it has. The Church was supposed to take over the surrounding society, not give in to it. There would be no ghetto, because the whole town would be Catholic. That is still the plan, whether or not we can manage it.

In such a world there is no room for sin. It is this kind of world envisaged by St Paul, and in today’s Gospel, where the demons are kept at bay.

Purity is not just avoiding bad things. It enables us to appreciate the spiritual nature of each person. We are not just bodies but souls, each person having a unique identity and infinite value.

New ways, old values. Keep the technology, but use it for good.

People look for antiques, yearning for things that remind them of the past. Well, let’s go back to when sin was sin, and people still called it that.

And God, ever ancient and new, will deliver us from all that would harm us.

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