daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Friday, 26th Week of the Year, October 05, 2012
Job 38:1, 12-21, 40:3-5, Ps. 138, Luke 10:13-16

"Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you" (Luke 10:13-14).

These cities, where Jesus worked so many miracles, did not repent and believe in him. They will therefore be severely judged on the day of judgment, for they had seen and received much, and they were Jewish cities. If the Pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon had seen such miracles, they would have long ago repented. Jesus therefore curses them in the style of the prophets of old.

We can apply this to our day as well. Institutes of consecrated life, for example, have received much from Jesus Christ, and so God expects more of them than of others who have seen less of him. He expects to see in them a way of life worthy of their calling. They are institutes of perfection. Their members have responded positively to the call to perfection given to the rich young man. "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you posses and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Matt. 19:21). These are the ones who have dedicated themselves to serve the Lord with an undivided heart, having renounced marriage in order not to be entangled with the world and in order to serve God without division of heart (1 Cor. 7:32-34). They have dedicated themselves to serve one master only in a radical and complete way (Matt. 6:24). They have committed themselves to losing their life in this world for the sake of Christ (Mark 8:35) and have renounced all they had to obtain the buried treasure and the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:44-46). They have chosen the strait and narrow way of life, which few choose; and have left the comfortable and spacious way of the many that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14).

But how have they lived this call to perfection? Fifty years ago these institutes lived this life very differently than they do today. There were sacred times of prayerful silence in the night and morning (Magnum Silentium) and places where silence was always observed. Everyone wore a religious habit, cassock, or clerical attire, a sign and constant reminder to themselves and others of their consecration to God, a reminder that helped them to live their consecration. Mass began the day at the first hour of daylight, consecrating the whole day to God. Mass, which normally raises us to our highest spiritual level, was not linked to lunch, which drops us spiritually because of eating and talking. How can the love of God long be experienced in the heart if we do this? The dinning rooms in their community houses were reserved exclusively for members of the institute, as is fitting for a celibate community, and there was a separate small dinning room for guests. The food and life were simple. Now some eat ice-cream and/or cake not only on their birthday but twice daily, and in some communities there is a television in almost every room. Lauds and Vespers, the official prayer of the Church, were recited daily in community, and the official decrees of Popes were received with honor.

So, have we progressed or regressed? and how will God judge us for how we have changed as institutes of consecrated life? "I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you" (Matt. 11:24).

But we still have time. We can still repent and change as institutes before it is too late, and we die completely. The time, though, is short, and the signs of our extinction are already upon us-we have almost no vocations, a sure sign of the death of an institute if it does not repent and change its direction. Fifty years ago there were many vocations; now there are practically none-for who, having a true vocation from God to the consecrated life, would be attracted to join an institute in such a condition? Very few, I think.


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