Saint Columbkille Parish
Please let begin by introducing myself. I am the new name on the front cover of the bulletin, Monsignor Moroney. I’m 31 years a Priest of the Diocese of Worcester and a professor of Liturgy at Saint John’s Seminary. Monsignor Fay and I worked together at the Bishops Conference in Washington D.C. for many years and I am grateful to him and to you for the hospitality shown me as the new resident of Saint Columbkille’s Parish.
While I spend a lot of time teaching Priests throughout the country about the new Roman Missal, I will, on occasion, be privileged to stand in this pulpit and explore with you the mysteries of our faith. Please pray that God will make these reflections insightful and engaging, or at least not too long.
fire and water
life and death
good and evil
The Lord places two choices before us this morning.
And that’s it.
On the one hand...Hell.
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
On the other hand....Heaven:
where eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, what God has prepared for those who love him.
And Jesus points out to the Pharisees three sins that can get us to Hell:
Anger, Lust, and the Lie.
1. If you are angry with your brother, he tells us, you will be liable to judgment.
This from the one who they nailed to a cross and spat on and he looked up and said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
This from the one who who said, “Judge not, least ye be judged...turn the other cheek...forgive and it will be forgiven you...in the measure you give, so also you shall receive.”
This from the one to whom we pray morning, noon and night, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Two roads. Anger and Mercy.
2. If you look on another with lust, you will be liable to judgement.
Lust, by the way, has many more meanings than we might first realize. For one thing, when researching this homily a few weeks ago I Googled Lust and was stunned to find that our Congress had once overwhelmingly approved something called the LUST Trust Fund. Only after a bit more reading did I discover that LUST stood for Leaking Underground Storage Tank.
Nonetheless the first definition we often think of, and the one Jesus uses today, is sexual lust. It’s a sin as old as King David and as new as the resignation of a Congressman last week. It is the sin of treating of a person as a thing, a man or woman as an object of desire.
Lust is pornographic, it sees the desired as nothing but a thing to be aquired, by hook or by crook. True lust precludes true love, for I can only love a person whom I do not see as a person.
Lust for another as an object is sinful, for it is using a person I should be loving. Just as lust for power, or for money, or for fame is a sin. For I seek power in orer to convince myself that I am strong, when God is really the only one who is strong, and I am very, very weak. I lust after money to prove to myself that I can get all the stuff I want, when in reality I will never really own nothing...it all comes from God and it will all return to him in the end. I lust after fame in order to prove what a big man I am, worthy of the adulation of the world, when only God is worthy of glory, and I am, at the end of each day, but his worthless servant.
Two roads. Lust and Love.
3. If it takes an oath for you to tell the truth, you will be liable to Judgement.
Just after Christmas I was chatting with a precocious four-year-old parishioner. Kneeling on the floor beside him, I inquired whether he had a favorite gift from Santa Claus. Oh Yes! he proudly declared. I got a reindeer! A reindeer? I asked. You mean like a toy or a doll? No, he stamped his right foot, I got a real reindeer with a red nose and antlers and he flies and everything. I look up and saw his mother smiling don on us. He got a puppy, she softly chuckled, but he thinks that a reindeer sounds a lot more impressive.
But I’m not much better than the four-year-old! Last week, I was engaged in a conversation about a new book on an esoteric subject about which I style myself as something of an aficionado. “You’ve read it, haven’t you,” a colleague looked at me and asked. I’d never heard of the book before, but I was tempted...so tempted (in fact, the lie was getting ready to roll off my tongue) I was so tempted to say, “Of course...of course, I have read it...what a foolish question! Me? Of course I’ve read it!”
Two roads. The lie and the truth.
Lust and Love.
Anger and Mercy.
One leads to hell. And the other leads to Heaven.
And we have the choice.
Monsignor James P. Moroney