We have been through the Gospels, but have the Gospels been through us?

We have been through the Gospels but have the Gospels been through us? So asks our favorite ethernet priest, Fr Vallee. Here is an excerpt of his homily from Feb 8th, 2009:

You and I know the Gospels pretty well. We meet here every week and read the Gospels. We sing about them and I am constantly talking about the them. But faith is not a intellectual game to be played. We don’t prepare for faith the way we prepare for an academic test. We have been through the Gospels but have the Gospels been through us? Here’s how we tell: does it change who we are and how we are? We about to take up the ABCD pledges. The Gospels have a clear and consistent “preferential option for the poor.” We all know that, but knowing it doesn’t do us one whit of good if we don’t act upon it. It is hard to sacrifice in these difficult economic times; the only thing harder is to do nothing.

Homily referenced is copied in full at end of post.

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Fr Vallee’s Feb 8, 2009 Homily

I. Vae enim mihi est, si non evangelizavero
A very short, yet lovely, passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is given in today’s second reading. Actually it is the motto on Bishop’s Roman’s coat of arms: “Vae enim mihi est, si non evangelizavero.” For those of you who have not kept up your Latin, that is, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel.” It strikes me here as very strange that Paul anticipates “woe” if he does not preach the Gospel. In that, Paul claims that he has been beaten, imprisoned, ridiculed and tortured for the sake of preaching the Gospel. He writes, “Brothers, this is the Gospel I preach and in its service, I have suffered hardship like a criminal; yea even unto imprisonment; but there is no imprisoning the Word of God.” And in another place, “Dear Beloved, I believe that God has made us apostles the most abject of mankind. We hunger and thirst, we are naked, we have are roughly handled, and we have no fixed abode…They curse us and we bless. They persecute us and we suffer it… They treat us as the scum of the earth and the dregs of humanity, to this very day.” If this is what happens when Paul preaches the Gospel, one shudders to think about what sort of woe might befall him if he did not preach the Gospel. It seems that the only thing more terrible, for Paul, than preaching the Gospel is not preaching the Gospel.

II. All of my suffering is not equal to the suffering of not having suffered enough
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a 17th century French mystic, once said, “None of my sufferings is equal to the pain of not having suffered enough.” An odd little passage, I suppose it is no accident that Saint Margaret Mary was almost a contemporary of the Marquis de Sade. Nevertheless, once we get past the initial shock of such seemingly masochistic sentiments, they make sense. Paul suffers all sorts of persecutions and trials for the sake of the Gospel. But woe to him if he does not preach the Gospel. Because the greatest suffering, the most terrible torture would be not to preach the Gospel, not to know the Lord Jesus Christ. All of Paul’s sufferings would not be the equal of a life lived without God. Hence, Woe to him, woe to me, woe to you, woe to us, if we do not preach the Gospel. Even though preaching the Gospel, entails all sorts of trials, not preaching the Gospel is a deeper, darker, more deadly woe.

III. Paul’s dilemma is our dilemma
The preaching of the Gospel is never easy. I mean it is, of course, easy to read the Gospel. It is even easy to talk about the Gospel. But to live the Gospel, to make it real here and now – that is a woeful and difficult thing to do. There is story told of the great Jewish Scripture scholar, Abraham Heschel. He wrote a book called “The Prophets” which is a classic, and the most beautiful and poetic work of Scripture scholarship I have ever read. Anyhow a young student came to him one day and asked Heschel to test him. He said that he knew the Torah inside and out and there was nothing left for him to learn. The young man said, “Professor, I have been all through the Scriptures.” Heschel smiled at the young man and said: “Yes, but have the Scriptures been through you?”

IV. Conclusion
You and I know the Gospels pretty well. We meet here every week and read the Gospels. We sing about them and I am constantly talking about the them. But faith is not a intellectual game to be played. We don’t prepare for faith the way we prepare for an academic test. We have been through the Gospels but have the Gospels been through us? Here’s how we tell: does it change who we are and how we are? We about to take up the ABCD pledges. The Gospels have a clear and consistent “preferential option for the poor.” We all know that, but knowing it doesn’t do us one whit of good if we don’t act upon it. It is hard to sacrifice in these difficult economic times; the only thing harder is to do nothing. Vae enim mihi est, si non evangelizavero. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! It is hard to sacrifice in these difficult economic times; the only thing harder is to do nothing.
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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