Cling to Jesus!
Homily presented March 6, 2022
by Monsignor Michael Deering
Just as there are certain movies that we like to see again every Christmas Season,
because they get us into the spirit of that great celebration.
There are also certain movies that can get us into the spirit of the Lenten Season.
One of the best is the 2004 movie, “The Passion of the Christ”.
It too, is the kind of movie you can get value out of each time you see it, each year.
The movie “The Passion of the Christ” is about the event, the Passion of the Christ.
It’s the event that everyone was talking about 2000 years ago,
It’s the event the we continue to talk about ... every day... in every Mass.
Why? Because it’s the model of perfect love.
God is love ... and being made in His image and likeness ... we’re made for love.
Yes, we’re made to receive God’s love ... and to share God’s love.
What is Love? Love is the self-giving of oneself ... for the good of another.
It’s the very way The Catholic Church defines Marriage ... as being ...
the total mutual self-giving of spouses to each other.
and you who are married know that total mutual self-giving involves sacrifice!
Jesus said: “Greater love than this no man has than to give his life for his friend.”
Jesus also said: “I call you my friends.”
And then He went and demonstrated His “greater” love ...
by giving His life for us ...
offering Himself in order to secure our salvation!
That’s what it took to repair the wounds of our sins.
That’s what it took to put us back into a right relationship with God The Father.
That’s what it took to overcome the greatest consequence of sin, which is death.
Jesus’ total self-giving of Himself on the Cross was the price of our salvation!
And oh ... what a price ... it was! The Passion of the Christ!
Most artists show us a “cleaned up” version of how Jesus looked on the Cross.
The movie shows us how He really looked ... beaten and bloody.
Pope Saint John Paul the Great said of the movie: “It is ... as it was.”
The word “passion”, comes from the Latin word, “passus” ...
which means “having suffered”.
Jesus, Our Lord and God, suffered horribly in order to re-unite us with the Father.
You see, ever since the Original Sin of Adam, mankind was separated from God.
That’s what sin does … it separates us from God.
And nothing humans could do, not even perfectly following the Law of Moses ...
was able to mend our broken relationship with God.
So Jesus, the Son of God, came to rescue us.
Now in order for Him to redeem us, Jesus had to overcome sin,
and in order to overcome sin, He had to overcome the worst consequence of sin, which is death.
Jesus had to die and rise again in order to free us from our bondage to sin and death.
And He did! He suffered and died for our sins and then rose from the dead!
In doing this, Jesus demonstrated His great love for us.
And His desire is that we never forget or doubt or question His great love for us.
Which is why Jesus established that the Last Supper Meal would become ...
an Everlasting Memorial of His Love for us.
It was there He instructed His Apostles, “Do this in memory of Me.”
The Mass has many beautiful descriptions ...
The Lord’s Supper, The Breaking of the Bread, The Eucharistic Assembly and The Divine Liturgy.
But I believe the most powerful description & perhaps the least remembered is:
“the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass”.
That puts the essence of Love, which is Sacrifice, at the heart of the Memorial.
Yes, the Mass is the re-Presentation of ... “the once for all Sacrifice”
that Jesus offered for our salvation.
How powerful it is for us to meditate on the Sacrificial aspect of the Mass.
For this reason, I am offering you a copy of Fr. Muller’s latest book:
“The Holy Sacrifice”
It’s a fine presentation of how Jesus’ Sacrifice was foundational to
Him sending his Grace and Mercy to assist us on our journey through life.
Fr Muller writes in the Introduction ...
“The Mass is not primarily a Communion Service,
but a sacrifice offered to the Father.”
St. Paul did not write:
“As often as you do this you proclaim His last meal, until he comes.”
No, St. Paul wrote:
“As often as you do this you proclaim His death, until he comes.”
“The sacrifice of Jesus done once on the cross in a bloody and physical way
is offered time and again to the Father in an un-bloody way till the end of time.”
Yes, Jesus is God ... who is eternal.
In offering Himself ... He offered the Eternal Sacrifice.
And we get to participate in that Eternal Sacrifice ...
offering Jesus in union with our Prayers and ourselves to the Father ...
in every Mass.
That is what makes the Mass the most powerful prayer in the world.
We are presenting ourselves and our prayers to the Father along with His Son ...
truly present in the Paten veiled under the appearance of bread. .
The Father looks down with great affection as He did at Jesus’ Baptism saying:
“This is my beloved Son ... in whom I am well pleased.”
How blessed we are to be able to approach the Father through His Beloved Son!
In our First Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses calls the people
to remember the parting of the Red Sea and to realize that it was
“the outstretched arm” of God that saved the Israelites from slavery to Egypt.
In the same way, The Mass calls us to remember the Passion of Christ, and realize that it was “the outstretched arms” of Jesus that saved all of us from slavery to sin.
The Holy Season of Lent is meant to be a time appreciate how much we’re loved by God and change the things we need to change to love Him more fully in return.
Please take & read the Little Black Book of daily Prayers & Meditations for Lent
And if you intend to read it, take a copy of The Sacrifice of the Mass.
You know, another reality perfectly depicted in The Passion of the Christ ...
was the bold and relentless oppression of the devil.
Satan is presented as he truly is ... alluring ... but sinister. Satan is real.
He is actively working to take you away from God. He is cunning and he is powerful. And he will not give up until we are safely home with God in Heaven.
You know sometimes when people get baptized or come into the Catholic Church or go through a conversion experience ... they are surprised to find that they still feel tempted to do the wrong things. Somehow they thought that by becoming Catholic or becoming more holy they would be immune to Satan’s temptations.
That’s definitely not true. In fact, of all the souls in the world, those closest to God are the biggest target of the devil. Just think, if Satan could get one of those souls to fall from grace, what a huge victory that would be for him.
No, the devil never gives up. Just look at our Gospel today where Satan
is bold enough to tempt even Jesus Himself … over and over again!
And how did Jesus overcome these temptations?
Jesus overcame His temptations by calling on the word of God. Over and over, Jesus said,
“It is written, man does not live by bread alone.”
“It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God.”
“It is written, you shall not put the Lord, your God to the test.”
We need to do the same thing. We too need to call upon the word of God to overcome the temptations of the devil. But to do this we first have to know the word of God, which is why it’s so important that we come to Mass every Sunday so that we can hear the word of God and allow it to become part of us.
St. Paul tells us today in his letter to the Romans that,
“Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
And in our Responsorial Psalm God assures us: “Because he clings to me,
I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.”
Hopefully you see why we need to have the holy name of Jesus ever on our lips.
Today is day 5 of the 40-day Lenten Season.
How are you doing in sticking to the prayers & penances that you committed to do? Have you done them well ...
or have you fallen to the devil’s temptation to give up on the process?
Don’t give up!
Remember this; there’s a much bigger battle going on than the one you’re trying to wage in doing your penance. There’s a battle going on for your soul.
On one side there is God; on the other side there’s the devil. God wants your soul to come to Him because He loves you infinitely and wants you to be happy forever.
Satan, on the other hand, wants your soul to come to him … because he hates you, and wants to keep you apart from God!
Satan will not give up ... he wants you to give up.
In the movie, he’s there to taunt Our Lord.
During Jesus’ Agony in the Garden, Satan mocks Him saying,
“No one man can carry the whole burden of sin.”
Right Satan ... no man could ... but Jesus is more than man ... He is God and man.
And as God-Man, Jesus did carry the whole burden of sin and that’s why we have hope of Everlasting Life with God in Heaven. Jesus is our hope and salvation.
Today, let’s recommit ourselves to making this Lent a time of growth and transformation, a time to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
And let’s arm ourselves for battle ... by clinging each day ...
to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.