2 Peter 3:12-15a, 17-18
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.
Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent
to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech.
They came and said to him,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion.
You do not regard a person’s status
but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?
Should we pay or should we not pay?”
Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them,
“Why are you testing me?
Bring me a denarius to look at.”
They brought one to him and he said to them,
“Whose image and inscription is this?”
They replied to him, “Caesar’s.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
They were utterly amazed at him.
Good News Reflection: How much effort are you making to be holy?
In today’s first scripture we read: “Make every effort to be found without stain or defilement ….” Oh we are a lazy lot! If we truly were making every effort to be found without sin, we would be going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation every week if not every day. Pope John Paul II used to go to Confession weekly. Mother Teresa of Calcutta went daily. What I want to know is: Why? I am not nearly as holy as they were, and I can’t figure out why I should go once a month!
Going to Mass is a good substitute for Confession, if we have only venial sins to overcome, because the Penitential Rite takes care of that if we are serious enough about it to consciously recall our sins and seek forgiveness. And receiving the Eucharist unites us to Jesus’ holiness. But do we make every effort to benefit from this?
The Saints made “every effort” to grow in holiness. But we take short-cuts and slower journeys. It’s not that we don’t want to be holy. Rather, we too easily feel satisfied with our current level of spiritual growth. We’re too busy to read more books about faith, too tired at the end of the day to attend programs at church, and too distracted to pray when stressed out and in need of a quiet time-out with the Lord.
To feel satisfied with our current level of holiness, we become good at ignoring our spiritual shortcomings and sins. Others see them though, don’t they. We’re very good at denial and rationalization. We lash out in anger at others and absolve ourselves by claiming they deserved it. We smoke cigarettes and believe that we are not destroying our bodies. While rightfully condemning abortion and same sex marriage, we also condemn those who promote it, ignoring that our judgmentalism is another form of killing.
However, once we admit our need to put more time into spiritual growth, God helps us, not with a scolding, wagging finger of “I told you not to sin” disapproval, but with mercy and kindness and a powerful gift of grace that will help us grow if we make every effort to rely on it.
In the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist, God fills us with this grace. He enables us to be the holy persons he created us to be during the Sacrament of Baptism. Grace gives us supernatural strength to resist sin. The Blessed Mother was full of grace; this is why she could always choose holiness when tempted with opportunities to sin. Why would we want to ignore such a gift?
Let’s make honest assessments of ourselves, with full confidence in God’s love and forgiveness and helpfulness. In God’s forgiveness we rediscover who we really are: Saints. We receive his help for living out our true identity. We move forward making great strides on the road of holiness.
Praised be to You, Lord, because You can do in my life those wonders I could never achieve on my own efforts. Blessed be You forever! Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica