Friday, August 28, 2009

Living in a Catholic Cave: A Reflection on the Twenty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Do you live in a Catholic cave? What do I mean by a Catholic cave? Well, do you know who Scott Hahn, Tim Staples or Patrick Madrid are? Do you know which archdioceses Abps. Chaput or Dolan lead? Do you know who David Archeleta, Zach Efron, or Jon Gosselin are? Do you know what football teams Michael Vick or Brett Farve are? If you know the answers to the first two questions but not the second two questions, you may live in a Catholic cave. If you say the word "secular" as in "secular media" or "secular colleges" with a tone of disdain then you may live in a Catholic cave. If you get pangs of jealousy when a friend tells you he went on a retreat hosted by Fr. Benedict Groeschel or that they got to hear a speech by Fr. Corapi then you might live in a Catholic cave.

We often have a tendency to blame our faults or short comings on the outside instead of looking towards the inside. This goes for those of us who may or may not be living in that Catholic cave.

In this weekend's gospel reading, the Pharisees are critical of Jesus' disciples because they observed that some of them did not wash their hands prior to eating. I guess they did not use Purell or anything! Jesus didn't chastise the disciples. He didn't go to them and say, "DUDE!! That's gross! Wash your stinking hands! They are filthy!" (well, hopefully he did later on out of site of everyone else.) Nope-Jesus, always looking for a teaching moment says,

"Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;but the things
that come out from within are what defile. From within people, from their
hearts,come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice,
deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come
from within and they defile.”

While we face tempations from the outside, sin comes from the inside. Yes, the Devil may whisper into our ears and try to get us to do things we know we should not. In the end though, we have free will. Sin boils up from the inside and we cannot blame anyone else when we falter.

The good news is that we have access to God's grace that will quash those urges and vices we only need to turn to Him. If we don't take advantage of the graces that God tries to give us, especially those available in the sacraments, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Don't blame the secular world for sin being in the world when it comes from inside of us. Don't hide in our Catholic cave but let God's love and mercy shine from inside us. Go out into that evil secular world and live the gospel. As James tells us in our second reading, "Be doers of the word and not hearers only."

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