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HOW, THEN, ARE WE TO LIVE?
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, 15th Sunday of the Year, July 14, 2013
Deut. 30:10-14, Ps. 68, Col. 1:15-20, Luke 10:25-37


"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).


I

 

These are the two great commandments of Jesus: to love God with all our heart, and to love our neighbor as our self. Then Jesus adds, "Do this, and you will live" (Luke 10:28). These two commandments should guide our whole way of life in this world. How many people believe, falsely, that the pursuit of happiness is the end of man, and that we were created for ourselves, to try to be happy? Anyone who has this idea and organizes his life around it will never be happy, because he is not living in accord with the way God made him. If we do not live correctly, according to the way God made us to live, we will never be happy. Only the person who lives in conformity with God's plan for man can be happy.


What we should then do is not pursue our own happiness, not plan our life to maximize the things that we think will make us happy, but rather obey these two great commandments. We are to love God with all the love of our heart, soul, and mind. We are to dedicate ourselves completely to him in all that we do, and do it for love of him. And we should also love and serve our neighbor. Monks serve their neighbor through their prayer and by the witness of their way of life. Priests love and serve their neighbor through their ministry of prayer, their celebration of the Eucharist, their sermons, and by administering the sacraments.


Only in this way will we be happy; that is, by observing the two great commandments of Jesus. If we dedicate ourselves to our own pleasures, this diminishes, rather than increases, our happiness, for it divides our heart, making us incapable of loving God with all our heart. To avoid becoming divided like this we should renounce a worldly lifestyle. A person who has a worldly lifestyle can never be happy, for he is always divided. Only a life of sacrifice and love for God can know true happiness, which is the light of God shining in our heart, filling us with divine love (2 Cor. 4:6).


The happy life is a life of sacrifice that renounces the delights of the world for love of God, in order not to be divided by them, but rather completely dedicated to the Lord, finding all our delight in him, and spending our time serving the needs of our neighbor. He who writes sermons serves his neighbor in this way. A nurse serves her neighbor by ministering to the sick with love and devotion.

 


II

 

When we fail in this, it is Jesus Christ himself who forgives and redeems us with the blood of his cross, as St. Paul tells us today. "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:19-20). How is Christ "making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20)? This is the mystery of the atonement, of redemption. Christ atones for us, redeeming us and expiating our sins through his blood poured out for us on the cross. He redeemed us by his death. This is his Paschal Mystery, his death and resurrection, which redeems and saves us. He justifies us, making us truly righteous, by his death on the cross. Then he rose from the dead to illuminate us with the light of his resurrection, giving us a new life shining in our hearts (2 Cor. 4:6).


In his death Christ suffered for our sins. He died for them (1 Cor. 15:3). God condemned and punished our sins in Christ's flesh on the cross (Rom. 8:3) to fulfill the law on our behalf (Rom. 8:4), namely the law that we should have suffered this in just punishment for our sins (Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:23). He did this instead of us on our behalf. The chastisement for our sins that brings us peace was upon him (Isa. 53:5). God put our sins on him, and he suffered their just punishment on our behalf on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). Thus the law was fulfilled by him for us (Rom. 8:4), and divine justice was satisfied in our regard.


"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph. 1:7-8). "Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). "And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (Col. 1:21-22). It is this death that saves, redeems, justifies, and forgives us by propitiating the wrath of God against sin (Rom. 1:18; 5:9), satisfying divine justice in our regard, and expiating our sins. Through our faith in him all this becomes ours. He knew no sin, but God put our sins on him so that he might make reparation for them by his suffering for them on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).


And now that we are reconciled to God through his death, we are illuminated by his life, which he gives to those who believe in him. "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life" (Rom. 5:10).

 

 

This is how we are saved. Once saved and forgiven for our sins by the blood of Christ poured out in reparation for them on the cross and received by faith, we are to live a new life, guided by the two great commandments of Jesus, living for God with all the love of our heart, and serving our neighbor as our way of expressing our love for God.

 

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