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No one loves sinners more than the Lord

Twenty-second Sunday Ordinary Time

August 28, 2022 •

There's a very good reason why God did not do what (Monica) asked. The Bishop of Milan at that time, was Saint Ambrose. Augustine encountered Ambrose during his stay in Milan. Because of the wisdom and holiness of this man, Augustine was converted.

Now, Saint Monica, again: the example of a holy wife and mother. Her greatest desire is to help obtain the salvation of the souls of her husband and of her children. In her life she got to she the baptism of her whole family. Imagine what a consolation and a joy this was for her.

For those of you who pray diligently for your loved ones, those who may have shied away from Christ or maybe don't even know him at all, Monica is your intercessor. You need to turn to her, she's wonderful. . . .

But just because you're holy, and you're a saint, and you have all the right intentions, it doesn't mean you know what's right for every sinner.

You see, it seems logical, from Monica's perspective that if her sinful son - who can't say no to temptation - goes to the worst city in the known world at the time, he's going to get worse.

Who could have predicted that the Bishop of this bad city was a saint? And God was going to use that man to help convert her sinful son?

We can't predict these things. So we need to be careful when we're praying for our sinful friends and relatives - and even for our sinful selves - not to be too specific in what we ask of the Lord. It's best to entrust the specifics to God. He knows everything. God will save that soul.

God certainly loves Augustine more than Monica did. He's God. She's just a creature. God has more knowledge and more power to help Augustine convert.

God doesn't need anyone to help him save a soul, He can do it Himself. He's God. But He wants to use our intercession, He wants to use our help. It can help provide more graces when we do intercede. So it is a good thing that the Monicas of the world pray for sinners. They need to continue to do so. But they have to do so with a deeper trust in the Lord, and not presume how God will save that soul.

That's the lesson Saint Monica teaches us.

Her sinful son, Saint Augustine, teaches us a slightly different lesson . . . . Conversion takes time, prayer, penance, discipline. It can take years or decades. I think you might be able to relate to this very famous prayer of Saint Augustine. He said: "Lord, make me chaste. . . . Just not yet." Now, yes, the proper way to pray would be: Lord give me the virtues I need to be holy. But what's important about the way Augustine prayed was that he was honest.

He knew intellectually, that chastity, this teaching of Christ, was the right way. But he also knew that because of his sinful habits and the desires of his sinful flesh, that he wanted to sin! There was an internal battle. As Saint Paul says, it's the flesh warring against the spirit. He wanted both things. And he was honest with God. "Lord, I don't want to be chaste. But I do want to be chaste. Please help me."

I think God is so pleased by honesty that He can give more grace when we can be honest like Saint Augustine. It takes a lot of humility to look deeply within ourselves and admit to what we really desire. Sometimes what we desire is multiple things. Yes, God willing, I want to be holy and virtuous and do the right thing but honestly, at times, I don't. That's why I sin.

Learn from Augustine's example. He becomes this amazing saint of the Church. I encourage you to read his writings. This example of a sinner striving to be a saint is what all of us need.

So you have Saint Monica, the one who intercedes and prays for the sinner. And you've got Augustine, the sinner, who prays and intercedes for himself.

This wonderful duo, mother and son, two of the greatest saints of the Church, can be an example for each of us depending on where we are in our spiritual lives. Or, both an example simultaneously.

But regardless of whether we are the sinner, or we are praying for someone else who is far from Christ, we need to have that faith that trusts in the Lord. Ultimately, conversion of the sinner is in the hands of God, and we need not worry about that, because no one loves sinners more than the Lord.

Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Ps 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11; Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a; k 14:1, 7-14

Homily begins at 19:50

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