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A listing of recent homilies delivered at my parish.
Una lista de homilías recientes entregadas en mi parroquia.
Una lista de homilías recientes entregadas en mi parroquia.
- 04-18-2021 3rd Sunday of Easter
1 John 2:2 – Matthew 26:28
He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
… for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.
Notice the difference between these two verses. “For those of the whole world.” “On behalf of the many.” These two verses need to be kept in tension. This is the reason why when we received the new translation of the Roman Missal the words of consecration were corrected. In the previous edition, (in English) the consecration of the wine into the blood of Jesus was “which will be poured out for you and for all”.
There is a danger of making a serious theological mistake with the old translation. It seems to be supported by our verse from St. John. I said “it seems…” Let me explain. There is a heresy called universalism that believes that God “would never condemn anyone to hell, that eventually everyone will end up in heaven, despite their sins and choice against God.” This is the belief in universal salvation, or universalism. This idea has been condemned as a heresy.
Why is this important? Because there are people today who want to believe universalism. They find it somehow “degrading of God that he would be so callous as to send someone into hell.” If he is an all loving God, why would he send someone off to hell? The answer to that is really very simple. God will not insist that people love him. But he can never stop loving them or trying to show that love to them.
Because of this, the people that are in hell will not want to be with God. They will, so to speak, run from him when they encounter him after the end of their lives here. Why would someone do that? They would turn from God’s love because they will not be able to abide the look of love that God has for them. This is the entry into hell. Let me repeat that.
Now, let us return to those two verses. It is true that Jesus is the expiation of all sin. He even offers that to those who refuse his mercy. This is what John is affirming. But Jesus, at the Last Supper, also understood that there would be people who would reject this offering. This is why he said that his blood is offered for many, not for all.
He has not separated himself from anyone. His desire is for the salvation of all. But he also recognizes that there are those who will not accept what he offers, who choose instead to be separated from him. He says this in Matthew chapter 7: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
I heard a priest – not from our archdiocese – who made the silly mistake after the new translation of the Eucharistic prayers of saying “which will be poured out for you and for many and for all.” That seemingly small addition opens up the problems of the heresy of universalism.
We have to recognize that there are dangers to remaining in sin. Thanks be to God; he has given us the Sacrament of Reconciliation! In his mercy he offers us forgiveness without end! We cannot use up his mercy for us. As St. John Vianney said: “Our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the great mountain of the Mercy of God.” Unfortunately, there are many people who do not understand this. Because of their lack of understanding, they would rather believe in a God who would force his love on us rather than repent of the sins that they have committed.
There are far too many people in our world today who think they are not doing anything wrong while they continue to mock God by remaining in their sins and encourage others to do the same.
We are called to a holiness of life. We are called to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. In part, this is what the Easter season is all about. It concludes with the great feast of Pentecost. The great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who is our other Advocate, enables us to pursue the holiness of the saints while we are here on earth.
Yet, John tells us today that Jesus is an advocate for us with the Father. This explains his ability to be an “expiation for our sins.” What is expiation? Some synonyms are penitence, compensation, and punishment. His advocacy before the Father has been established so that we can have a clear conscience when we ask for forgiveness. But we must ask, be penitent, and seek to be transformed into the holiness that Jesus offers.
We need this in order to enter the narrow gate of heaven. I think it would be something analogous to carrying a huge backpack and trying to fit through a small door. We need to take the backpack off. That backpack is the sum of our sins. We need to strive for the love of God to be truly perfected in us. We need to lay the burdens of this life, filled with sin and rebellion, at the foot of the cross. Only then does the offering of the cross by Jesus remove from us the stains and problems of sin.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, we give you thanks for your great mercies. Last weekend we celebrated your Divine Mercy. Recognizing that gift of your grace, we turn to you now. Hear our prayers. Pour out your mercy on a world that does not understand your mercy. Change the hearts of those who refuse to acknowledge your majesty and glory. Continue to bless everyone in the world in such a way that they would receive knowledge of your mercy and respond to it by asking for the forgiveness of sins.
We turn to you, knowing that you are the one who can bring us through the problems of this world and to the glory of heaven. Help us all to lay down our own pride, our own misconceptions, and embrace the truth – the only truth that can set us free. Your salvation is offered to us all. Help us to accept this gift and live with you in your glory forever. Amen.