Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prayers today: When you walked at the head of your people, O God, and lived with them on their journey, the earth shook at your presence, and the skies poured forth their rain, alleluia. (See Ps 67:8-9, 20)

God of mercy, may the Easter mystery we celebrate be effective throughout our lives. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

Blessed Caesar de Bus (1544-1607)

Like so many of us, Caesar de Bus struggled with the decision about what to do with his life. After completing his Jesuit education he had difficulty settling between a military and a literary career. He wrote some plays but ultimately settled for life in the army and at court. For a time life was going rather smoothly for the engaging, well-to-do young Frenchman. He was confident he had made the right choice. That was until he saw firsthand the realities of battle, including the St. Bartholomew's Day massacres of French Protestants in 1572. He fell seriously ill and found himself reviewing his priorities, including his spiritual life. By the time he had recovered Caesar had resolved to become a priest. Following his ordination in 1582, he undertook special pastoral work: teaching the catechism to ordinary people living in neglected, rural, out-of-the-way places. His efforts were badly needed and well received. Working with his cousin, Caesar developed a program of family catechesis. The goal — to ward off heresy among the people — met the approval of local bishops. Out of these efforts grew a new religious congregation: the Fathers of Christian Doctrine. One of Caesar's works, Instructions for the Family on the Four Parts of the Roman Catechism, was published 60 years after his death. He was beatified in 1975.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John(3.31~36)

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no-one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.


(Homily by Fr. E. J. Tyler)

During the third decade of the nineteenth century in England, the Oxford Movement was rapidly developing. It was spearheaded by a small group of Oxford dons at the centre of which was John Henry Newman — but he was one of a tight group of high-minded friends. From their pens flowed published tracts, books, sermons and reviews. They aimed at a spiritual renewal of the Anglican Church, understood by them as involving a revival of the catholic ethos of the Caroline divines of the seventeenth century — which itself referred back to the Church of the Fathers. It was a catholic revival, and its final upshot was the passing over of its leader and certain others to communion with the Church of Rome. At one point in the Movement — it was during the 1830s — Newman received a visit from some members of Cambridge University, and the subject of the liberalism of certain Cambridge men came up. He observed that what they needed in their religion was a lot more fear. They needed to be more fearful of God. The fear of God was a theme which Newman returned to at various times in his famous sermons. He claimed that modern man too often looks on God as absolutely benevolent, even in respect to sin. The modern image of God is such that we do not fear him, and in fact we take little notice of him. There is a corollary to this. It is that modern man shows relatively little concern for personal and public “sin,” and yet he becomes profoundly incensed at personal and public immorality. Consider the proportion of space given to news of unethical, immoral behaviour of individuals and institutions, and to ethical failures in government or public persons. Such failures are roundly condemned (as often they should be), illustrating the objective reality of the moral realm. People fear being exposed as immoral for this will involve the wrath of society. But they have few apprehensions in respect to “sin,” because this involves merely the supposed wrath of God. The modern media will not accuse a person of being “sinful,” only immoral or unethical. What is behind this is the absence of God. While the wrath of society is feared, the wrath of God is not.

This is to say that one of the most obviously counter-cultural aspects of revealed religion in the modern day is the revelation of the wrath of God in respect to sin. God revealed himself as pure love, as is shown in the person of Jesus Christ, and as is summed up in the terse definition of St John in one of his Letters — that God is love. But modern secular man, for whom God is absent from daily life, has little difficulty with the notion that God is love. This is because he imagines the love of God as a benign acceptance of everything. God is just a benevolent backdrop to life and reality. There are, he deems, intolerable evils in the world and this discounts the proposition that there is an infinite and holy God active in the world. But to the extent that the thought of God is admitted by him at all, he takes it to be a thought of mere benevolence. In fact, this is a facet of the relegation of God beyond the margins of the world of daily life. But it has been revealed that God’s love is a holy love, a mighty love for all that is good. It is a love that will not bear sin. God will not accept the slightest sin and this non-acceptance of sin is what the inspired Scriptures call his wrath. Sin will ultimately be completely rejected by the all-holy God, and this rejection will be a manifestation of divine wrath. Wrath is the converse of a love that is holy. There is a parallel in the indignation of modern man and media towards unethical practices because of the harm it inflicts on others. So too with God in respect to sin. While society is alert to morality and ignores “sin,” God sees every sin and, because of his love for the sinner, hates his sin. All this is to say that we need to recover a sense of the wrath of our loving God. His wrath is his judgment on sin. In our Gospel passage today, St John refers to the sin of rejecting the Son of God. It will incur the wrath of God. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him” (John 3: 31-36).

The person who has little fear of God is a foolish person. The Scriptures are replete with references to the wrath of God on sin. Compare the teaching of our Lord as it is presented in the four Gospels with that of any of the prophets. Christ’s references and warnings of the judgment of God and of the punishment of Hell are far more telling than anything in the Old Testament. In an age that ignores the living God, we ought give special thought to the divine judgment. It will help us turn away from sin and believe the Good News of God’s infinite love for all.

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