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WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Eternal Worship of God or of Thyself?

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT
September 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

People will flock in droves to see a celebrity yet will not visit the most important Person, the Eucharistic Lord, in the Church. They will sit for hours at a football game but complain if Mass is an hour. They will hush in reverent silence on the set of television yet remain chatting before the Holy of holies. They remain focussed for hours before a computer but are easily distracted before God. They will gaze into a friends face for hours in deep conversation but will not speak in prayer to the One worthy of true friendship. They love themselves more than God when this life is over I beg and pray that they will not be cursed with eternal worship of themselves instead of blessed praise of the One who anxiously waited to bless them while on earth.

HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - How am I feeling?  Am I having a good day?  Are people treating me the way I believe I should be treated?  Do I feel ok?  How is my prayer life today?  Do I feel myself blessed right now?

Me.  Myself.  I.

So preoccupied with ourselves we are, so very temperamentally tormented by self-anxious concern.

What about God?  How is God feeling about things right now?  Are we treating God the way He should be treated?  Are we thinking more about God than anything else?  Is he #1?  Because if I am number one, if I am the one I find myself thinking about, I am worshipping me not God.

People will flock in droves to see a celebrity yet will not visit the most important Person, the Eucharistic Lord, in the Church. They will sit for hours at a football game but complain if Mass is an hour. They will hush in reverent silence on the set of television yet remain chatting before the Holy of holies. They remain focussed for hours before a computer but are easily distracted before God. They will gaze into a friends face for hours in deep conversation but will not speak in prayer to the One worthy of true friendship. They love themselves more than God when this life is over I beg and pray that they will not be cursed with eternal worship of themselves instead of blessed praise of the One who anxiously waited to bless them while on earth.

In the first reading for we get a Pauline contrast.  He does it a lot, contrasts two different things.  On one hand he talks about a life lived that is primarily ego-centric, and on the other hand God-centered.

Lets look at that, wow, horribly hellish list of ego-centered things: "immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, anger, fury, malice, slander, lying to one another, and the greed that is idolatry."  Yikes!

Then he says, and I hope we hear it personally, that is directly to our inmost hearts: "Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.  By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.  But now you must put them all away."

But now you must put them all away.

I hope so, but you know what, that is not what a person sees.  Catholics living carnal lives, adding to the filth river of selfolatry that pollutes this world and wounds the Church.

The Lord Jesus, in His usual way, gives us the cure in the Gospel - a blessed God-centered life.  He points out that we should not seek satisfaction and instant gratification in this life, that this will only lead to eternal woe, hunger, weeping, grieving, and the horrible poverty of being deprived of God. 

He points to the fact that if we want to find God, we will have to experience the momentary pain of being deprived of riches, fatness, jolliness, popularity, of turning not to ourselves but to God.  Understand the context.  He is not saying that simply because you have money you will be poor later or vice versa, like St Paul, he is contrasting desires, intentions, and objects of the will.

Wait a minute.

At this point you might probably start focussing even more on your SELF and start berating yourself.  I can just hear it, "I am so selfish.  I don't pray as much as I should.  I could do so much more."  Believe it or not, this kind of self-accusation isn't going to change you, it will make you even more fixated on you.  The only way to shake out of it is to focus on the holy and unalterable Love of God.

The kind of prayer where we get caught up in "what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God," where we, "think of what is above, not of what is on earth," is the kind that is ignited by a soul that has experienced the Eucharistic Love of God. 

His Incarnate Love, present on the altar is really is only force that can propel a person through that momentary discomfort, poverty, hunger, ignominy, of not satisfying oneself, but looking toward eternity and the blessing of possessing God.  Otherwise you will reduce religion to the ego-centric fulfilling of a prescription of duties, instead of an encounter with the One who cannot stop loving you.

To this person, who prays to find the Love of their soul, they don't really feel that poverty, hunger, and discomfort of turning away from self, but only an impatient yearning, a joyful expectancy of encountering that fire that burns away the former way of life, the death of the "old man" of the flesh and the "life hidden in Christ with God."

May the holy Virgin Mother of God help us to dive into the divine preoccupation of seeking and finding God!  For never was it known that anyone who went to her was left without the aid of that maternal love that helps us go beyond our own comfort to diving communion.

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Father Samuel Medley, SOLT, is a priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and is based in Hythe, Kent, United Kingdom.  He speaks to groups around the world on Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.  Visit his homily blog http://medleyminute.blogspot.com or his blog on the Church's teachings on marriage and family life http://loveandresponsibility.org

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