TUESDAY HOMILY: The Obedience of Faith
It tells us that God the Father ultimately didn't desire and delight in all of the Old Testament "sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings," the holocaust of animals that were offered not only in the temple but in so many other altars. The sacrifice that he did desire and delight in was the pleasing sacrifice of His Son and all of us in him.
"Then I said," the text has Jesus indicate, "As it is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God." And the author adds, "By this 'will,' we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Our obedience in faith is not only modeled on Jesus' obedience to the Father but takes place within his very obedience. To follow Christ means ultimately to follow him on the inside, to be incorporated into Him by the Holy Spirit as he says with trust to the Father, "Not my will, but thine be done."
Each of us is called to echo the words of today's responsorial psalm antiphon, words that Jesus made the theme of his very life, "Here am I, Lord. I come to do your will." A life of faith is a life of trusting obedience.
Pope Benedict wrote beautifully on this connection between faith and obedience in his 2010 apostolic exhortation on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, "Verbum Domini."
A life of faith, he wrote, is one of obedience to the word of God: "The obedience of faith must be our response to God who reveals. . The divine word, in fact, .gives rise to faith, whereby we give our heartfelt assent to the truth that has been revealed to us and we commit ourselves entirely to Christ.. The whole history of salvation progressively demonstrates this profound bond between the word of God and the faith that arises from an encounter with Christ. Faith thus takes shape as an encounter with a person to whom we entrust our whole life" (VD 25).
Sin, he continued, can be best defined as a refusal to hear and obey that word: "Quite frequently in both the Old and in the New Testament, we find sin described as a refusal to hear the word, as a breaking of the covenant and thus as being closed to God who calls us to communion with himself. Sacred Scripture shows how man's sin is essentially disobedience and refusal to hear" (VD 26).
But the good news is what Jesus himself did when he took on our nature and made it obedient to his Father: "The radical obedience of Jesus even to his death on the cross completely unmasks this sin. His obedience brings about the New Covenant between God and man, and grants us the possibility of reconciliation. Jesus was sent by the Father as a sacrifice of atonement for our sins and for those of the whole world (cf. 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10; Heb 7:27). We are thus offered the merciful possibility of redemption and the start of a new life in Christ. For this reason it is important that the faithful be taught to acknowledge that the root of sin lies in the refusal to hear the word of the Lord, and to accept in Jesus, the Word of God, the forgiveness which opens us to salvation."
Today's readings and the entire Year of Faith are occasions in which all the faithful are being taught these lessons indicated by Pope Benedict. But these are lessons we're not just supposed to learn intellectually, but live.
And so let us in prayer ask God to help us to say, mean and live the words first uttered by Jesus, his obedient mother, so many Old Testament Prophets, New Testament Apostles, and Saints, "Here I am, Lord. I have come to do your will."
This is the path by which we will truly be his family members here on earth.
And this is the path by which we will join his mother, brothers, sisters and Father forever in heaven.
Father Roger Landry is pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River, MA and national chaplain of Catholic Voices USA. His homilies and articles are found on catholicpreaching.com.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Year of faith, daily homily, gospels, Jesus, Mary, Father Roger Landry
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