HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT – YEAR A
BY: FR. MIKE LAGRIMAS
HOMILY TOPIC: REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION
Gospel: Mt 3:1-12 – John’s Call to Conversion
Message #211: “Do Not Sin Anymore”
(TO THE PRIESTS, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, Marian Movement of Priests)
- The MARIAN Message
a) given in Manila, Philippines.
b) the Blessed Mother calls us all to conversion: “Do not sin anymore!” Sin is an offense against her Son, Jesus (letter d).
c) the horrible situation today: (letters e, f and g)
-people do not mind the messages of the Blessed Mother;
-they are in rebellion against God and rejection of the law of love.
-loss of the sense of sin – guilt has practically disappeared
-sin is committed more and more, and even justified (ex. Homosexuality is
upheld, divorce defended, sexual perversion propagated, the wrong is praised, etc.)
-abortion is rampant and legalized even in Christian countries.
d) Mary intercedes for us. We have to listen to her call to conversion and repentance. This is the only way to be saved.
- Concept of Sin
a) The most common concept of sin in the Old Testament is “hamartia” meaning “to miss the mark” (as in an archer not hitting the target) – not simply a mistake in judgment, but a failure to reach a goal, and this could be a non-action, an omission. Other words used were “iniquity, guilt, rebellion, disorder, abomination, lie and folly.” These words express the concept that sin is not just a violation of a law, but it actually caused a break in the relationship between God and His people.
b) Sin is moral evil. It is “essentially the free and deliberate disobedience of a creature to the known will of God” (The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship, p. 1190).
c) Kinds of Sin: according to
– origin – original and actual sin
– gravity – mortal and venial sin, and the 7 capital sins
– manner – sin in thoughts, in words, and in deeds by commission and by omission,
– subject – personal sins and social sins (these refer to sins of the individuals and of society as a whole). Social sins do not “just happen” – they are the result of personal sins, like selfishness and arrogance of power that have become part of the social environment. Examples of social sins are poverty, hunger, wars, corruption in society, injustice, abuse of power, political dynasties and many others.
d) Elements of sin – to be considered a mortal sin, it should be a grave matter, with full knowledge and full consent.
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- Concept of Repentance
– “metanoia” – turning over a new leaf (180-degree turn) – turning away from sin, and turning back to God – total conversion.
– Elements of Repentance – the following must be present so that repentance is complete in order to receive God’s forgiveness:
a) contrition – perfect contrition – being sorry for sins because we hurt God Whom we love.
– imperfect contrition (technical term is “attrition”) – being sorry for sins out of fear of punishment and hell. In the sacrament of Confession, this imperfect contrition is enough.
b) confession – private and individual confession is the norm. The priest is bound to absolutely observe the “seal of confession” under pain of excommunication, latae sententiae, reserved only to the Apostolic See (canons 983; 1388, par. 1). In confession, “the priest is to remember that he is at once both judge and healer, and that he is constituted by God as a minister of both divine justice and divine mercy, so that he may contribute to the honor of God and the salvation of souls” (canon 978, par. 1).
c) absolution – each penitent is absolved by the priest in sacramental confession. The practice of General Absolution has been abused. It is only allowed in extreme circumstances, when 1) there is a big number of penitents, that 2) there is not enough time to hear individual confessions, and 3) they, without fault of their own, will be deprived from the state of grace and Holy Communion for a long period of time. And in this case, the recipients of General Absolution should also know of the attached condition: that afterwards, as soon as there is an opportunity, they have to go to a priest for individual and private confession. (canon 961).
d) penance/ satisfaction – prayer or deed recommended by the confessor
e) resolution – firm decision not to sin again. Without this, all of the above are meaningless.
- Points for Reflection
In her message, the Blessed Mother referred to the Philippines as a blessed nation, “upon which I have a great design of love and of light” (letter j). This was highlighted in the highly controversial issue on the RH Bill on contraception now signed into law by the President. According to the recent surveys, majority of Filipinos support this law, in direct opposition to the teachings of the Gospel and the Church, challenging the stand of the Bishops. Filipino Catholics must remember that their duty is to obey God and the official teachings of the Church through the Bishops, the successors of the Apostles. The truth and moral principles come from God and they are not dependent on surveys in the media and the majority of votes in Congress nor in the sentiment or opinion of majority of the people. Precisely we have the Bishops as our Pastors to guide and protect us from all dangers, especially to our souls. In fact, we are not obliged to follow any law that is against divine and natural law. St. Peter said in the Acts of the Apostles: “It is better for us to obey God rather than men!”
With this current controversy, and the firm stand of the Bishops for life and for natural and divine law, the Philippines is being true to its vocation as the light in this part of the world. This is what the Blessed Mother said: “this blessed nation, upon which I have a great design of love and light.”
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his message to the Filipino Bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome a few years back , said:
“At the same time, the Church’s prophetic office demands that she be free ‘to preach the faith, to teach her social doctrine … and also to pass moral judgments in those matters which regard public order whenever the fundamental human rights of a person or the salvation of souls requires it’. In the light of this prophetic task, I commend the Church in the Philippines for seeking to play its part in support of human life from conception until natural death, and in defense of the integrity of marriage and the family. In these areas you are promoting truths about the human person and about society, which arise not only from divine revelation but also from natural law, an order which is accessible to human reason and thus provides a basis for dialogue and deeper discernment on the part of all people of good will. I also note with appreciation the Church’s work to abolish the death penalty in your country.”
- Relation to the Gospel
a) St. John the Baptist is the central figure of the Advent season. He is the last prophet of the Old Testament. More accurately and most importantly, he is the Precursor or Forerunner of the Messiah: he announced the immediate coming of the Messiah. So, he stands between the Old and the New Testaments.
b) The effectiveness of his preaching was in his profound humility (“I am not fit to unfasten the ties of his sandals”; “He must increase, I must decrease”) and authentic witnessing (he lived what he preached). His life was marked with simplicity and asceticism.
c) He was called “the Baptist” because he performed the Baptism of Repentance. Those who are sorry for their sins go to him, and as a sign of their repentance, they are baptized by John in the Jordan River. There was no washing of sins that happens. On the other hand, the sacrament of Baptism instituted by Christ washes away all sins (original and actual sins) “ex opere operato”, regardless of the disposition of the individual and the minister (provided the proper matter and form are used, and the minister has the right intention.)
d) His message is strong and urgent: “Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight His paths!” And the only way to prepare is repentance and conversion: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” “Every valley shall be filled in” (punuan ang mga pagkukulang); “Every mountain shall be made low” (ibaba ang ating mga kilay ng kayabangan at patagin ang kapalaluan); “Crooked ways made straight” (ituwid ang mga likong ugali: di puwede ang katoliko na “may kato” at “liko”); “Rough ways made smooth” (kinisin ang magaspang na pag uugali). It is urgent: NOW!
e) The message of the Advent Season is repentance and conversion (that is why the liturgical color is violet) as our means of preparation for the coming of the Lord (cf. last week’s lesson: 1st coming – Christmas; 2nd – present coming in the sacraments and in our daily lives; 3rd – the Parousia or Second Coming of Christ).
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