Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Seeking our Lady's intercession. Let us pray. Hail Mary full of Grace. The Lord is with the Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy wound. Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Good morning, brothers and sisters. Something that's been on my mind, uh, quite a bit recently. Uh, a topic on which to preach has to do with proper Catholic guilt. It's something that especially we older Catholics know about. You know, Catholics have that good Catholic guilt when you commit a sin, right? You feel shame and and you know, you regret what you've done. So as Catholics, we're raised with all of the teachings of Christ and the church. Right. We know what sin and what's not sin. And when we break those commands of God, when we sit in that way, then that that feeling of shame and guilt comes up in us. Right? And this should be, we think, a good thing, right? You know. Well, I don't know how many of you notice, but I was using a few different words there, and you might not realize that they don't all go together. I certainly talked about Catholic guilt, sorrow for sin, but I use the word shame. Most people, who are trying to be holy and good think that they should feel ashamed after they fall into a sin. When you're in sin, you should feel ashamed. And yet this is completely false. That has nothing to do with Catholic guilt or sorrow for sin. In fact, that kind of shame that we feel after we sin is it’s a sin ultimately in and of itself, not necessarily a deadly one, but it's based on pride. And the best way to understand it is, is how we see it in children. Right? When you catch a child doing something they know they're not supposed to do. Right. And you've told them many times not to do what's there. Normal response. Don't look at me. Right. That's shame. The idea is I've done something wrong and I'm embarrassed. I'm ashamed. And I want to hide from that shame. I don't want you to see me. That's what shame does.
Many of us may have even been raised. Or maybe you've said this to your own children. After they've done something wrong. You should be ashamed of yourself.This is a terrible, terrible thing to say. None of us should ever feel shame after we sin. And I can prove it to you very easily when I am in sin. What does God want of me? He wants me to admit that I've done wrong. Repent of my sin and make up for it by doing some type of penance.
Right. That's what the Lord wants. That's what Catholic guilt or Catholic sorrow for sin is supposed to be. But when I feel ashamed, the last thing I want to do is go to confession and admit I did wrong because I'm embarrassed. I want to hide. I want to run away. I don't want anybody to see it. Our Lord would never want you to feel shame after you've fallen into a sin, because that shame actually keeps you away from his mercy and forgiveness.
I mean, he died in the cross 2000 years ago to forgive you. He wants you to bring your son to him, to ask for forgiveness and to receive his mercy. That's why he went through everything. And yet, when we feel shame, we're disinclined to do that, because that's what shame does. By its very nature, this feeling that we get. It makes us want to hide and stay away from anyone that could see our reason for shame. Now, that's the opposite of repentance, right? That's the opposite of repentance. Because if I'm feeling ashamed, I don't want to admit to you I did wrong. I don't want to admit to God I did wrong. I don't want to go to confession. I don't want anybody to know. I don't even want to know about it. And that's exactly why our Lord would never want his children to feel ashamed. What he wants you to do is feel sorrow for your sins and guilt or remorse. The nice thing about sorrow for sin and guilt and remorse is that actually draws you to repentance. You want to fix what you just did. You want to go to confession and make it right, and you want to do some type of penance. That's the purpose of guilt and sorrow. It actually draws us towards reconciliation, whereas shame pushes us away. Now the world again is the one. The world, the flesh and the devil are the ones who tell us that we should be ashamed when we sin. Do you really think God is surprised by your sin? Oh. Oh, my goodness. Look what he did. Look what she did. I never even thought they could do something like that. Do you think the priest is surprised by the sins that you confess? Oh, no one has ever confessed that before. I mean, this is what we do for a living, right? We hear confessions most of the time. There is. I've said this before. The only thing you can say that I've never heard before is cannibalism. But honestly, if I heard that, I wouldn't be surprised. I know that's kind of sad, but, you know, that's human sinfulness that you can't surprise a priest if he's been a priest more than three months.
You're not going to surprise him. The only thing keeping us from this reconciliation with God is this inappropriate sense of shame. It does nothing. In fact, it keeps us from his mercy and his peace, which is why he rejects it, why he doesn't want you to feel it. Do you know what the real purpose of shame was? Why God created it? Shame was supposed to be felt before you send when you're tempted. If shame inclines you to hide or push away from something, then if I'm tempted to a sin and I feel shame, I'm going to hide from the temptation. I'm going to leave. I'm going to push away from it. Right. That's actually the proper use of shame. But once I fall into a sense that it's useless, in fact, it gets in the way. You have to learn to reject that temptation. And that's what I'm calling it, a temptation to be ashamed after you've sent. I mean, you did it right? It is what it is. It's already done. How do we fix it? That's what matters. And that's what proper Catholic guilt and sorrow for sin is meant to do, is to draw us to repentance, reconciliation so that we can be at peace with God and He can be at peace with us. That's what he wants. And so, a meditation, a good meditation that can help you remember not to give in to this temptation of shame after you've fallen into a sin. Is this 2000 years ago when Jesus was dying on the cross, He thought of you. He thought of you by name. Now, in his human nature, with his human intellect, he couldn't have done that. There are too many of us throughout space and time. But remember is God also. And so, in his divine intellect there on the cross for those hours, he thought of every human being who would be in need of his forgiveness. And by name, he thought of you, and he said to his Heavenly Father, I die for him. I die for her. Every sin you've ever committed up to this point and the ones you will commit in the future, he's already died for. He wants to forgive you If your shame gets in the way of that and you need to get rid of it. It doesn't help you at all. It doesn't help him. Ultimately, this love of Christ is the pearl of great price that we hear about in the Gospel. It's the treasure buried in the field. When you find this kind of love, you'll give up anything for it. That's what the merchant did, right? He sold all his possessions just to own this pearl. This great love that our Lord has for us. Anything that gets in the way of you receiving that love, it needs to be cast aside and needs to be removed from your mind and heart. So, I encourage you all to meditate upon this. Love that when he was dying on the cross for you, he thought of you by name.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
You may watch the Mass in its entirety on our YouTube channel. Homily begins at 21:55