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Monsignor Yennock's Homily December 16, 2018 - Third Sunday of Advent

Dec 17, 2018

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

DECEMBER 16, 2018

SOMETIME WE NEED TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE JUST COME INTO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. THEY HAVE AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE FROM US WHO HAVE BEEN CRADLE CATHOLICS.

A COLUMNIST WHO IS A CONVERT TO CATHOLICISM GAVE THIS PERSPECTIVE ON CONFESSION: HE SAID: WHEN I WAS COMING INTO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH I MET A NUMBER OF ANGRY EX-CATHOLICS ENRAGED AGAINST THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE.

I HATE IT!” THEY WOULD SAY. “I GREW UP WITH ALL THAT CATHOLIC GUILT!” 

I NEVER UNDERSTOOD THAT, BECAUSE I HAD BEEN RAISED COMPLETELY OUTSIDE THE CATHOLIC TRADITION, AND I COULD TELL YOU ALL ABOUT GUILT. THERE IS PLENTY OF SIN IN THE WORLD. THERE WAS PLENTY OF SIN IN ME, AND PLENTY OF GUILT.

I THOUGHT TO MYSELF. CONFESSION DID NOT CAUSE YOUR GUILT. YOUR SINS CAUSED THE GUILT. 

INDEED, COMING TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WITH MY BURDEN OF GUILT AND DISCOVERING FOR THE FIRST TIME WHAT WAS BEING OFFERED IN THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE, I COULD SCARCELY BELIEVE SOMETHING SO WONDERFUL COULD BE TRUE. YOU GO INTO A LITTLE ROOM, POUR OUT YOUR GUTS, AS YOU’VE LONGED TO DO, AND PURGE YOURSELF OF ALL THE SHAME, SIN AND PAIN YOU’VE BEEN LUGGING AROUND LIKE A LEAD WEIGHT FOR ALL THOSE YEARS — AND WHEN IT’S ALL OVER YOU DON’T GET A LECTURE ON WHAT A JERK YOU ARE, OR SHOCKED SILENCE. NO, YOU GET GENTLE COUNSEL, ACCEPTING LOVE, AND WORDS OF ABSOLUTION, SPOKEN BY JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF IN THE PERSON OF THE PRIEST. THEN YOU WALK OUT OF THERE IN PEACE. YOUR SINS ARE GONE FOREVER. YOUR GUILT ATTACHED TO THOSE SINS IS GONE FOREVER. YOUR SOUL IS FILLED WITH GRACE. YOU ARE A NEW CREATION AND IT DOESN’T COST ANYTHING.

NOW, YOU’D THINK THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE BEATING DOWN THE DOORS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SUCH AN OFFER. BUT THE WEIRD THING IS THAT, FOR SOME REASON OR OTHER IN THE 21ST CENTURY CONFESSIONS HAVE DROPPED OFF SHARPLY. AS A CONVERT IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.”

THAT PERSPECTIVE OF CONFESSION WAS GIVEN BY A NEW CONVERT TO CATHOLICISM.

SOMEONE WISELY SAID: PSYCHOANALYSIS IS CONFESSION WITHOUT ABSOLUTION.

HEALTHY GUILT, IS NATURAL IN EVERY HUMAN BEING EXCEPT FOR THOSE FEW UNFORTUNATE PEOPLE THAT WE CALL SOCIOPATHS. THE CREATOR PROGRAMMED EVERY HUMAN BEING WITH A SENSE OF GUILT TO REMIND US THAT WE ARE SUBJECT TO A HIGHER POWER.  

IF PEOPLE DID NOT FEEL GUILT WE WOULD ALL BE IN CONSTANT DANGER OF HARM FROM BAD PEOPLE. NATURAL GUILT IS THE ONLY MOTIVE FOR SOME PEOPLE TO BE GOOD.     

THE REALITY OF GUILT IS SO POWERFUL THAT IF WE CONTINUALLY REPRESS IT IN OURSELVES WE WILL NEVER HAVE PEACE OF MIND.

THE FIRST THING JESUS SAID TO THE APOSTLES ON EASTER SUNDAY NIGHT WAS: “PEACE BE WITH YOU”. THEY FELT GUILTY AND EMBARASSED BECAUSE THEY RAN AWAY WHEN HE WAS ARRESTED THE THURSDAY BEFORE.

 

JESUS DIDN’T WANT THEM TO REMAIN TOO LONG IN THAT STATE OF GUILT. HIS LOVE AND HIS COMPASSION WOULD NOT ALLOW HIM TO DELAY THE FORGIVENESS THAT HE HAD IN HIS HEART FOR THEM.

THAT’S WHAT CONFESSION IS ABOUT—DUMPING THE GUILT.

 

CONFESSION IS ABOUT THE HOUND OF HEAVEN GOING OUT SEARCHING FOR THE LOST SHEEP. CONFESSION IS THE LOVING FATHER RUNNING DOWN THE ROAD TO BRING HIS WAYWARD SON SAFELY HOME. CONESSION IS ABOUT MEETING JESUS CHRIST.

 

IN THAT UPPER ROOM IN JERUSALEM JESUS, AFTER FORGIVING HIS DISCIPLES GAVE THEM THE POWER TO FORGIVE OTHERS- WHEN HE SAID: “WHOSE SINS YOU SHALL FORGIVE THEY ARE FORGIVEN. WHOSE SINS YOU SHALL RETAIN THEY ARE RETAINED.” HE SHARED THAT DIVINE POWER TO FORGIVE SINS WITH HIS FIRST PRIESTS.

 

WHEN THOSE PRIESTS LEFT THAT UPPER ROOM IN JERUSALEM THEY FELT RELIEVED OF THEIR GUILT. THEY EXPERIENCED THE PEACE OF FORGIVENESS.  THEY COULDN’T WAIT TO USE THAT POWER TO FORGIVE SINS AND GIVE OTHER PEOPLE THE SAME RELIEF FROM GUILT THAT THEY HAD EXPERIENCED. THEIR FIRST PRIORITY WAS TO GO OUT AND TO SEARCH FOR SINNERS TO ABSOLVE.  

 

TO THE JEWS OF JESUS TIME IT WAS UNHEARD OF THAT HUMAN BEINGS SHOULD DARE TO FORGIVE SINS. WHEN JESUS SAID TO THE LAME MAN YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN THE LEADERS SAID TO HIM: “YOU BLASPHEME, ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE SINS.” AND THEY WERE RIGHT. ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE SINS.

 

JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD. THAT’S WHY HE HAD THE POWER TO FORGIVE SINS. IN CONFESSION THE PRIEST STANDS IN THE PLACE OF JESUS CHRIST. HE FORGIVES SINS NOT IN HIS NAME BUT IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST.

 

A MAN SAID TO ME ONCE: “I KNOW THAT I NEED CONFESSION. I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT I FEEL MUCH BETTER AFTER I GO TO CONFESSION. I HAVE NO PROBLEM SAYING THAT I LIED, THAT I WAS MEAN THAT I WAS GREEDY AND SELFISH. BUT IT IS STILL DIFFICULT FOR ME TO CONFESS SINS AGAINST THE SIXTH AND NINTH COMMANDMENTS.

 

I AM ASHAMED AND EMBARASSED BY MY LACK OF SELF-CONTROL AND MY LACK OF SELF-DISCIPLINE.

 

IT WAS NOT EASY FOR THAT MAN TO MAKE SUCH A HUMBLE CONFESSION. WE HAVE ALL EXPERIENCED THAT FEELING OF SHAME WHEN WE FACE OURSELVES IN OUR WEAKEST MOMENTS.

 

IF EVERYBODY HAD PERFECT SELF-CONTROL IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES THERE WOULD BE NO SIN. YOU KNOW AND I KNOW THAT THERE IS NO ONE WHO ALWAYS HAS PERFECT CONTROL OVER EVERY PASSION THEY WE ARE BORN WITH, WHETHER IT’S LUST, GREED, ENVY, ANGER OR ANY OTHER PASSION. 

 

SINS AGAINST THE SIXTH AND NINTH COMMANDMENTS ARE SINS OF HUMAN WEAKNESS.  THEY DESERVE THE SAME UNDERSTANDING AND COMPASSION AS ANY OTHER SIN. NEITHER GOD NOR THE PRIEST IN CONFESSION ARE SHOCKED BY SINS OF THE FLESH.

 

AS SERIOUS AS THEY MAY BE, SINS OF THE FLESH ARE NOT THE WORST SINS THAT WE CAN COMMIT. SINS THAT DESTROY THE FAITH OF OTHERS ARE WORSE SINS. SINS OF BAD EXAMPLE THAT DESTROY PEOPLES SOULS ARE WORSE SINS. SINS THAT DESTROY PEOPLE’S GOOD NAME ARE WORSE SINS. SINS THAT DEFRAUD THE ORPHANS AND WIDOWS ARE WORSE SINS. SINS THAT BLASPHEME GOD—SINS THAT IGNORE GOD—SINS THAT WE COMMIT BY FAILING TO WORSHIP GOD ON SUNDAYS AND HOLYDAYS—THESE ARE WORSE SINS THAN THE SINS OF THE FLESH.

 

SIN IS NOT THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD. THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD IS THE DENIAL OF SIN. THE DENIAL OF SIN MAKES US A HYPOCRITE AND JESUS CONDEMNED THE HYPOCRITES.

 

SOMEONE SAID TO ME ONCE: IT MUST BE SO DEPRESSING TO HEAR ALL ABOUT PEOPLE’S SINS. I TOLD THEM IT WOULD BE DEPRESSING IF I HAD TO WATCH SOMEONE LEAVE GOD. IN CONFESSION I GET TO BE WITH THEM WHEN THEY COME BACK TO GOD. THAT’S UPLIFTING.

IN CONFESSION I GET TO SEE GOD’S SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS CONSTANTLY BREAKING INTO PEOPLE’S LIVES AND MELTING THE HARDEST OF HEARTS.

IN CONFESSION I SEE JESUS CONSOLING THOSE WHO ARE GRIEVING THEIR SINS-- SOME WITH TEARS. I SEE HOW HE STRENGTHENS THE DESPARATE ONES WHO WANT TO GIVE UP ON GOD AND ON LIFE ITSELF. IN CONFESSION I GET TO SEE THE DIVINE MERCY IN ACTION. I GET TO COME FACE TO FACE WITH THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF GOD’S LOVE. IN CONESSION I GET TO SEE GUILT MELT AWAY AND PEACE AND JOY TAKE ITS PLACE.

AS A PRIEST, WHEN YOU SEE GOD’S LOVE CLOSE UP IN ANOTHER PERSON’S LIFE, YOU CAN ONLY SAY: THANK YOU LORD FOR THIS PRIVILEGE.

ADVENT IS THE SEASON THAT INVITES US TO TAKE TO HEART THE WORDS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST: “REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND”.

ADVENT IS THE SEASON THAT INVITES US TO TRANSFORM OURSELVES FROM SINNERS INTO SAINTS. WE WILL NEVER COMPLETELY ERADICATE SIN FROM OUR LIVES. IF YOU HAVE ERADICATED SIN COMPLETELY FROM YOUR LIFE YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO TO CONFESSION.  IF YOU ARE ALREADY A SAINT WAITING TO BE CANONIZED YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO TO CONFESSION.

I HAVE A FEELING THAT SIN HAS NOT BEEN COMPLETELY ERADICATED FROM OUR FAMILIES. WHAT EVER YOUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION IS I INVITE YOU TO GO TO CONFESSION ON MONDAY FROM 4 TO 7 P.M.  THE LORD OF JOY IS WAITING TO REMOVE YOUR GUILT AND YOUR SADNESS.

WE ALL HAVE EXCUSES FOR PUTTING OFF CONFESSION. THIS POEM IS ABOUT A LITTLE GIRL AND HER EXCUSES FOR NOT GOING TO SCHOOL. I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT ENJOY THIS.

 

 

 

“I CANNOT GO TO SCHOOL TODAY"
SAID LITTLE PEGGY ANN MCKAY.
"I HAVE THE MEASLES AND THE MUMPS,
A GASH, A RASH AND PURPLE BUMPS.

MY MOUTH IS WET, MY THROAT IS DRY.
I'M GOING BLIND IN MY RIGHT EYE.
MY TONSILS ARE AS BIG AS ROCKS,
I'VE COUNTED SIXTEEN CHICKEN POX.

AND THERE'S ONE MORE - THAT'S SEVENTEEN,
AND DON'T YOU THINK MY FACE LOOKS GREEN?
MY LEG IS CUT, MY EYES ARE BLUE,
IT MIGHT BE THE INSTAMATIC FLU.

I COUGH AND SNEEZE AND GASP AND CHOKE,
I'M SURE THAT MY LEFT LEG IS BROKE.
MY HIP HURTS WHEN I MOVE MY CHIN,
MY BELLY BUTTON'S CAVING IN.

MY BACK IS WRENCHED, MY ANKLE'S SPRAINED,
MY 'PENDIX PAINS EACH TIME IT RAINS.
MY TOES ARE COLD, MY TOES ARE NUMB,

I HAVE A SLIVER IN MY THUMB.

MY NECK IS STIFF, MY VOICE IS WEAK,
I HARDLY WHISPER WHEN I SPEAK.
MY TONGUE IS FILLING UP MY MOUTH,

I THINK MY HAIR IS FALLING OUT.

MY ELBOW'S BENT, MY SPINE AIN'T STRAIGHT,
MY TEMPERATURE IS ONE-O-EIGHT.
MY BRAIN IS SHRUNK, I CANNOT HEAR,

THERE'S A HOLE INSIDE MY EAR.

I HAVE A HANGNAIL, AND MY HEART IS ...
WHAT? WHAT'S THAT? WHAT'S THAT YOU SAY?
YOU SAY TODAY IS.............. SATURDAY?

G'BYE, I'M GOING OUT TO PLAY

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