A New Perspective on the Commandments

The key to getting our relationship with God right is the key to getting everything else right in the moral life. – Fr. Robert Barron

Fr. Barron gave a very insightful homily today on our first reading from this Sunday’s mass.

Here’s a summary of his thoughts on each commandment:

  1. I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods besides me. Everybody worships something or someone – the center of gravity for your life. Everyone has the ultimate concern. What is of supreme importance to you? That is what you worship. What is of highest worth to you? The first commandment tells us it has to be God. If He is not, your spiritual life comes apart.
  2. You shall not the name of the Lord your God in vain. It’s one thing to claim that God is the center of your life, but do you speak like it and act like it? Don’t speak so casually about it. Speech matters. Right speech contributes to the building up of the soul. Wrong speech leads to the coarsening of the soul.
  3. Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Unless you incarnate your worship of God in some definite of act of worship otherwise that commitment becomes an abstraction and then irrelevant. It must express itself through action. God does not NEED our worship. WE NEED worship. Fr. Barron points out the falling off of people attending mass on Sundays. Sunday has become like any other weekend day like Saturday. This signifies this loss of focus of our society.
  4. Honor your Father and Mother. Not just your parents but also your family. If you love God but can’t manage to love and honor those closest to you, something is wrong. Family is the building block of society. The foundation will become lost if you love God but don’t love those closest and dearest to you.
  5. You shall not kill. 60 million unborn babies killed since Roe vs Wade. Victims of ISIS, casual murders in our streets/gang violence. God is the giver of life – We have no business interfering with that preogative. Do we enhance life or do we diminish it after meeting someone? In our dealing with people, do they feel more alive after being with us?
  6. You shall not commit adultery. Marriage is in serious trouble. Think of the pain that takes place when infidelity takes place. The family is the building block of society. Husbands and wives can’t stay committed and the sadness and pain that takes place when that commitment is broken.
  7. You shall not steal.  When you start bad mouthing someone, that’s a kind of stealing. You’re stealing the good reputation of someone.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. How we love tearing each other down. It’s a function of the ego’s need to be superior and to feel protected.  Our favorite indoor pastime is critiquing each other. How often do you engage in bearing false witness during the course of the day? Do you lie about someone for your own purposes?
  9. You shall not covet your neighbors goods/ 10. You shall not covet your neighbors wife. We desire what our neighbor desires. We tend to desire things not because their good in themselves, but because someone else desires them. We want someONE or someTHING because someone else wants it.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Take one of the commandments and focus on it and how you are possibly, without even realizing it, comitting one of these sins. Are you honoring your family? Do you covet things just because someone else wants it too? Have you stolen someone’s reputation by bad mouthing them? Do you treat Sundays just like any other day without making it a holy day? There’s so much we can work on spiritually to live out these commandments. We can go through our own transformation this Lent as we make an effort to not only memorize these commandments but live them out as well.

Practice What You Preach And Serve One Master

Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Didn’t we already learn from the first week of Lent, that Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil to have all the honor and glory that he wanted? We don’t need that kind of temptation and we don’t need that kind of life here on earth. It might look good on the outside to be “seated at a place of honor at banquets and synagogues” as the scribes and Pharisees were in this passage. But as Jesus mentioned, they were not practicing what they were preaching. They loved being honored like that. We don’t need to mimic this behavior. It LOOKS attractive, but with all that praise and honor comes idolatry and worship of false idols. We don’t need people worshiping us and we certainly need not worship anyone but God.

It’s also interesting to note people who are called Master. We might not use this exact word but we do put people up on high pedestals, don’t we? We like to call celebrities Kings and Queens. We buy their clothing line or perfume, or we watch their tv shows and read their interviews and hang on to every word they say. Idolatry is alive and well today although you may think it’s an old school practice.

This passage reminds us to humble ourselves before the Lord. He is our one true Master, He is our only King, and He is the only one we need to honor and praise daily.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you have idol worship? Do you look to celebrities or even just friends or people in your inner circle as Kings and Queens? Take a look at what Jesus preached. Are you practicing or just going through the motions? Ask yourself these questions this Lent and make a change if you need to stop worshiping false idols and start praising the one and only King, Jesus Christ.

A Forgiving Spirit

Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

The amount that we give will determine the amount given back to us in return. How much do you give? For those who give of their time and their hearts and their abilities, this is great news. For all that we give, we’ll be given back in return! And isn’t that usually the case? Sometimes it’s not right away – most times we have to wait patiently for it to come back to us. Some call it karma. I like to think it’s God. 🙂

But what about those times when we don’t do much good? What about those times that maybe we didn’t treat that stranger with respect. Or maybe that time we passed the donation basket down the pew when we knew we had a few bucks to spare? Or, that time we judged someone we just met based on their background or their accent or their clothing. We probably wish we could go back and do differently.

The good news is, it’s never too late. We can put some money in the basket at the next mass, we can give that stranger a smile next time we see them, or we can re-introduce ourselves to that person we misjudged. And for those “bigger” sins? We can confess and ask God to forgive us and the peace to move on.

Fit In Your Faith Today: As Lent continues, take stock of what you’re doing right now that is good. Are you shining your light on to others? Or are you still in the darkness of contempt or disappointment or shame? It’s time to be compassionate just as our Father is compassionate and merciful. Be merciful to others but also to yourself!

Christ-Centered Suffering

1 Peter 3:18-22

Beloved:
Christ suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,
who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Focus on the words in bold and let them assure you of Christ’s love for you. Although we are unrighteous, we are saved through our baptism and the fact that Christ died for our sins. Our lives on earth are not easy; we suffer, we sin, we seek repentance and we ask for forgiveness constantly. It’s a process, but as long as we believe and worship our Savior, we can be assured our suffering is only temporary.

Hunger For God

Isaiah 58:6-9

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

This reading from Isaiah was read during Friday (yesterday) mass. It’s a good reminder to all of us what true fasting is. And what God wanted and sees as hungering for Him. It’s not just fasting from food or our favorite snack. No, it’s also clothing the naked when you see them, sharing your food with those who are truly hungry and in need, fasting from unjust practices, and abstaining from a particular bad habit that you might have.

Fit In Your Faith This Lent: Get creative with your fasting this Lent. Maybe one day you fast from social media, another day you fast from keeping that extra change and giving it to the homeless man sitting outside the grocery store, and perhaps one day you fast from gossiping about others. There are many ways you can Hunger For God, and not just with your empty stomach.

 

The Best Quotes About Lent

The practice of Lent

Matthew 6:1 Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

Pope Benedict XVI: “Lent is like a long ‘retreat’ during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual ‘combat’ which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism.”

Mother Teresa: “As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”

Pope Francis: “Live your Lent as if there is no Easter.”

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” – John Chrysostom

Fr. Robert Barron: “Jesus, having resisted these temptations from the devil in the desert for 40 days, is now ready to make God the center of His life. This, too, is our purpose during Lent.”

Prayer:

Matthew: 6: 5-6 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Martin Luther: “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

Paul E. Billheimer: “Satan does not care how many people read about prayer if only he can keep them from praying.

Various Priests and Deacons: “Pray in your car, it’s the perfect setting. You’re alone, you’re forced to slow down when you’re stuck in traffic. Begin a conversation with God right there.”

St John Damascene: “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”

Fasting:

Matthew 6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Pope Francis suggests we fast from indifference to others:  “Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”

Fr. Robert Barron: “The pleasures of the body sometimes dominate and take over – so we fast from them purposely so as to allow the deeper hungers to arise and emerge.”

John Piper, Author of A Hunger For God: “Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God.”

Almsgiving:

Matthew 6: 2-4 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Father Robert Barron: We all have too many material things. Here are 3 ways you can express almsgiving:

  • When you receive something in the mail and it is requesting money, donate to that cause.
  • If you see a homeless person who asks you for money, give them something (does not have to be money).
  • When you want to buy something, take a look at what you would consider your first choice. Then buy the model or the version just beneath it/less expensive than your top choice. Use the money that’s the difference between those two and give it to the poor.

Mike Aquilina – Catholic Education Resource Center: Almsgiving is a form of prayer because it is “giving to God” — and not mere philanthropy. It is a form of fasting because it demands sacrificial giving — not just giving something, but giving up something, giving till it hurts.

Book of Tobit 12:8-9: “Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness … It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life.”

Fit in Your Faith Today (and this Lenten Season): Practice the 3 aspects of Lent – Perhaps you take just one a day. Which one do you need the most help with? Do you find that you aren’t giving to the poor enough when it’s NOT Lent? Work on how you can give to those less fortunate, even if it’s not monetarily.

Do you go about your day skipping prayers and forgetting to give thanks to God? Arise every morning with a short prayer of thanksgiving.

What do you have too much of that you can fast from this Lent? It could be food, it could be social media, or it could be a certain bad behavior/habit you have been meaning to cease.

Is 46 days too much to ask to abstain and use that time/energy/money on something for your community of fellow Christians? Start your Lent off on the right foot and start a calendar or write down in a journal how and what you’re going to accomplish this Lent. At Easter, note how closer you have come to putting God first in your life.