Whose Image Is On You? - Monsignor Yennock's Homily from October 22, 2017

Oct 23, 2017

WHOSE IMAGE IS ON YOU? (Matt. 22:15-21)

TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

OCTOBER 22, 2017

A MAN WENT UP TO JESUS AND ASKED HIM A QUESTION TO TRIP HIM UP. HE SAID TO JESUS: TELL US, IS IT LAWFUL TO PAY TAXES TO CEASAR?  

JESUS SAID TO HIM: GIVE ME A COIN. THE MAN REACHED INTO HIS POCKET AND PULLED OUT A COIN AND GAVE IT TO JESUS. IN ROMAN TIMES ALL MONEY BELONGED TO THE EMPEROR. JESUS SAYS: WHOSE IMAGE IS ON THIS COIN? THE MAN SAYS: CAESAR’S IMAGE IS ON THE COIN. JESUS SAYS: THEN GIVE TO CAESAR WHAT BELONGS TO CAESAR. GIVE TO GOD WHAT BELONGS TO GOD.

AS A COMEBACK QUESTION THE MAN COULD HAVE SAID: WHAT BELONGS TO GOD? THEN JESUS COULD HAVE SAID: WHOSE IMAGE IS ON YOU?  IF GOD’S IMAGE IS ON YOU THEN YOU BELONG TO GOD. 

IF I BELONG TO GOD I HAVE TO ASK MYSELF FOUR FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF LIFE. WHERE DID I COME FROM?  WHAT GIVES LIFE MEANING?   HOW DO I KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG? AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME AFTER I DIE?

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME AFTER I DIE? EVERY RATIONAL, HONEST PERSON IN THIS WORLD HAS ASKED THAT QUESTION SOME TIME IN HIS LIFE: WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME AFTER I DIE?

SOME PEOPLE SAY MODERN MAN IS NOT CONCERNED ABOUT DEATH. THAT IS NOT TRUE. WOODY ALLEN WHO IS CERTAINLY CONSIDERED A MODERN MAN SAYS THAT HE IS TERRIFIED OF DEATH. HE JOKED ABOUT IT ONCE WHEN HE SAID. “I’M NOT AFRAID TO DIE. I JUST DON’T WANT TO BE AROUND WHEN IT HAPPENS.”

HERE’S WHAT THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM SAYS ABOUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME AFTER I DIE: THE BODY GOES TO THE GRAVE—DUST TO DUST. THE SPIRIT GOES INTO AN AFTERLIFE TO FACE JUDGMENT. THE BIBLE IS CLEAR THAT THERE WILL ONE DAY BE A BODILY RESURRECTION FOR EVERYONE TO EITHER ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD OR ETERNAL CONDEMNATION APART FROM HIM IN HELL. 

THE PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE FOUND IN A 2015 SURVEY THAT 94% OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GOD; 74% BELIEVE IN HEAVEN AND 59% BELIEVE IN HELL.

IT IS INTERESTING THAT MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT THEY WILL BE REWARDED IN HEAVEN FOR THE GOOD THAT THEY HAVE DONE.  BUT NOT AS MANY BELIEVE THAT THEY WILL BE PUNISHED IN HELL FOR THE EVIL THEY HAVE DONE. THAT’S CURIOUS BECAUSE IT SHOULD WORK BOTH WAYS.

HELL IS A REALITY THAT WE HAVE TO FACE IF WE ARE HONEST.

HELL IS MENTIONED 54 TIMES IN THE BIBLE

AMAZINGLY, 13 PERCENT OF JESUS SAYINGS ARE ABOUT HELL AND JUDGMENT; MORE THAN HALF OF HIS PARABLES RELATE TO THE ETERNAL JUDGMENT OF SINNERS.

ONLY A FOOL WOULD BELIEVE THAT WE CAN DELIBERATELY DISOBEY THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE AND GET AWAY WITH IT.

THROUGH THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS WE KNOW THAT HELL IS REAL AND THAT THERE ARE SOULS IN HELL.

WE MUST BE CLEAR ABOUT THIS. ST. PAUL SAYS THAT HELL IS NOT THE CHOICE OF GOD. IT IS THE CHOICE OF THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO REJECT GOD. THE GREATEST THRILL OF MY LIFE IS TO TELL A PERSON THAT THEY CAN HAVE GOD’S CHOICE BECAUSE WE HAVE A MERCIFUL SAVIOR.

A CRIMINAL IN ENGLAND WAS ON HIS WAY TO EXECUTION. THE MINISTER WAS READING FROM THE BIBLE ABOUT HEAVEN AND HELL. THE CRIMINAL PAUSED AND LOOKED UP AT THE MINISTER. HE SAID: “IF I BELIEVED WHAT YOU ARE READING I WOULD CRAWL ON MY HANDS AND KNEES ACROSS ENGLAND TO SAVE ONE SOUL FROM HELL.”

 

SOME PEOPLE HAVE A HARD TIME BELIEVING IN HELL. THEY SAY:  HOW COULD A LOVING GOD ALLOW ANYONE TO SUFFER IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY.

AT FIRST GLANCE THAT SOUNDS LIKE A REASONABLE QUESTION, UNTIL WE CONSIDER THESE QUESTIONS:

HOW COULD GOD ALLOW DISEASE IN THE WORLD? HOW COULD GOD ALLOW JAILS AND PRISONS FOR CRIMINALS? HOW COULD GOD ALLOW OVER A MILLION DEATHS AND A MILLION AND A HALF WOUNDED MEN AND WOMEN AND ALMOST 40,000 MEN AND WOMEN MISSING IN ACTION FROM OUR WARS?

HOW COULD GOD ALLOW THE DEATHS OF OVER 100,000 PEOPLE IN HIROSHIMA AND OVER 80,000 PEOPLE IN NAGASAKI FROM THE ATOM BOMB?

HOW COULD GOD ALLOW OVER FIVE MILLION SYRIAN REFUGEES TO WANDER THE FACE OF THE EARTH? WE COULD GO ON AND ON LISTING ALL OF THE HUMAN MISERY CAUSED BY NATURAL DISASTERS AND THE VIOLENCE PERPETRATED BY EVIL MEN AND WOMEN.

THE KEY TO ALL THESE QUESTIONS IS FREE WILL. ONCE THE CREATOR GAVE US A WILL THAT WAS TRULY FREE HE HAD TO ALLOW THE POSSIBILITY OF GOOD AND EVIL. BY THE GRACE OF GOD WE ARE FREE TO CHOOSE THE GOOD, THE TRUE AND THE BEAUTIFUL. WE ARE ALSO FREE TO REJECT GOD’S GRACE AND TO CHOOSE THE EVIL, THE LIE, AND THE UGLY.

WHEN PEOPLE BEGIN TO DOUBT THE EXISTENCE OF HELL THEY BEGIN TO DENY THE EXISTENCE OF SIN AND EVIL. THE WORST EVIL IN THE WORLD IS NOT SIN. THE WORST EVIL IN THE WORLD IS THE DENIAL OF SIN.  THE DENIAL OF SIN LEADS TO ATHEISM AND DESPAIR. IT IS THE GATEWAY TO DEPRESSION AND ADDICTION.

FOR SEVERAL DECADES NOW IT HAS BECOME FASHIONABLE AMONG SOME OF OUR INTELLECTUALS TO DROP ANY REFERENCE TO SIN, GUILT, REPENTANCE, CONFESSION, HEAVEN AND HELL.

IT IS SAID THAT ALL SOCIAL ENGINEERING IS PRECEDED BY VERBAL ENGINEERING.A FEW YEARS AGO THE JUNIOR OXFORD DICTIONARY DELETED THE WORD SIN BECAUSE IT WAS NO LONGER RELEVANT.

THE WORD SIN HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH THE WORD SICKNESS. THE WORDS SINFUL BEHAVIOR HAVE BEEN REPLACED WITH THE WORDS INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR. THE WORDS VIRTUE AND VICE HAVE BEEN REPLACED WITH THAT ILLUSIVE WORD THAT WE CALL VALUES. THESE CHANGES HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED AS THE NEW FREEDOM. LET US SEE HOW THE NEW FREEDOM HAS WORKED.

NOW THAT WE HAVE CALLED EVERY SIN A DISEASE PEOPLE FLOCK TO GROUPS LIKE GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS, PILL ADDICTS ANONYMOUS, SEX ADDICTS ANONYMOUS, YOUTH EMOTIONS ANONYMOUS, UNWED PARENTS ANONYMOUS, EMOTIONAL HEALTH ANONYMOUS, DEBTORS ANONYMOUS, DUAL DISORDERS ANONYMOUS, BATTERERS ANONYMOUS, VICTIMS ANONYMOUS AND SEX OFFENDERS ANONYMOUS.

THIS DOES NOT SOUND LIKE THE NEW FREEDOM WE WERE PROMISED. IT SOUNDS MORE LIKE A NEW SLAVERY.

MAN IS NOT ONLY LOST IN GUILT. HE IS LOST IN SIN. I CAN SAY OVER AND OVER AGAIN: I AM GUILTY, I AM GUILTY, I AM GUILTY. UNTIL I SAY I AM A SINNER I WILL NOT BE HEALED. UNTIL I SAY I NEED A SAVIOR I WILL NOT BE HEALED. UNTIL I SAY I AM A SINNER I WILL NOT ADMIT THAT I NEED TO BE REDEEMED.

DID YOU KNOW THAT THE ONLY WORLD RELIGION THAT SPEAKS OF REDEMPTION IS THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION? REDEMPTION, FORGIVENESS AND HEALIING COME TO US ONLY THROUGH JESUS CHRIST; HIS CROSS AND RESURECTION.

ONE OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JESUS CHRIST AND ETHICAL MORALISTS IS THAT JESUS DID NOT COME TO MAKE BAD MEN GOOD. HE CAME TO MAKE DEAD MEN LIVE. WHEN I GAVE MY LIFE TO JESUS IT WAS NOT BECAUSE I WAS A BAD MAN WHO WANTED TO BECOME GOOD. IT WAS BECAUSE I WAS A DEAD MAN WHO WANTED TO LIVE FOR A CAUSE GREATER THAN MYSELF.

THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES WERE CONCERNED ABOUT GIVING TRIBUTE TO CAESAR. GOD WAS STANDING IN FRON OF THEM. THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONCERNED MORE ABOUT THE STATE OF THEIR IMMORTAL SOULS.

HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED DEEPLY INTO YOUR HEART? HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR HEART BESIDE THE HEART OF JESUS CHRIST?

THE HUMAN HEART IS CAPABLE OF THE MOST HEINOUS EVIL. WE ALL HAVE THOUGHTS THAT WOULD SHAME THE DEVIL.

WE HAVE WITNESSED IN OUR OWN LIFE TIME THE DEPRAVITY OF THE HUMAN HEART.

CAN WE EVER ERASE FROM OUR MEMORIES THE 21 CHRISTIAN COPTS DRESSED IN ORANGE JUMP SUITS AND DRAGGED TO A MEDITERRANEAN BEACH FRONT IN LIBYA WHERE THEY WERE CRUELLY BEHEADED. AFTER SEEING SUCH INHUMANE TREATMENT CAN WE SERIOUSLY DENY THAT THERE IS SUCH A THING AS EVIL?

HOBART MOWRER A PSYCHOLOGIST, PROFESSOR AT HARVARD AND YALE, AN ATHEIST AND A SKEPTIC WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE AT THE AGE OF 75 SHOCKED HIS FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES WHEN HE MADE THIS STATEMENT:

 “FOR SEVERAL DECADES WE PSYCHOLOGISTS LOOKED UPON THE WHOLE MATTER OF SIN AND MORAL ACCOUNTABILITY AS A MYTH, AND ACCLAIMED OUR LIBERATION FROM IT AS EPOCH MAKING. BUT AT LENGTH WE HAVE DISCOVERED THAT TO BE FREE IN THIS SENSE, THAT IS, TO HAVE THE EXCUSE OF BEING SICK RATHER THAN SINFUL, IS TO COURT THE DANGER OF ALSO BECOMING LOST… IN BECOMING AMORAL, ETHICALLY NEUTRAL AND FREE, WE HAVE CUT THE VERY ROOTS OF OUR BEING, LOST OUR DEEPEST SENSE OF SELFHOOD AND IDENTITY, AND WITH NEUROTICS, THEMSELVES, WE FIND OURSELVES ASKING: WHO AM I, WHAT IS MY DEEPEST DESTINY, WHAT DOES LIVING MEAN?”

OUR YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE LOST THE MEANING OF LIFE. THAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS BEHIND ADDICTION AND INCREASED SUICIDE.

NOW THAT SIN AND GUILT HAVE BEEN REDEFINED AS DISEASE, GROWING NUMBERS OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO GO TO RID THEMSELVES OF THIS DISEASE.

OUR CATHOLIC FAITH TEACHES US THAT WE GET RID OF SIN AND GUILT BY GOING TO CONFESSION. WE ARE TAUGHT THAT WHEN WE KNEEL DOWN AND OPEN OURSELVES TO THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE THE GRACE OF GOD TAKES AWAY GUILT,  HEALS THE SOUL AND GIVE US THE STRENGTH TO PICK OURSELVES UP FROM THE DEPTHS OF DESPAIR.

WHEN PEOPLE BEGIN TO DOUBT THE EXISTENCE OF HELL THEY BEGIN TO DENY THE EXISTENCE OF SIN AND EVIL. WHEN WE DENY SIN AND EVIL WE BEGIN TO LIVE IN THE PRISON OF OUR OWN GUILT. WHEN WE CAN NO LONGER BEAR OUR GUILT WE EITHER DENY THAT THERE IS A LAWGIVER OR WE AFFIRM HIM AND ASK HIM TO TAKE AWAY THE GUILT.

ACCORDING TO THE VISIONS AT FATIMA AND THE VISIONS OF SISTER FAUSTINA THERE ARE PEOPLE IN HELL. BUT WE MAY REST ASSURED THAT ANYONE WHO IS IN HELL IS THERE BY THEIR OWN CHOICE.

REMEMBER HOW WE BEGAN THIS HOMILY. WE SAID THAT WE BELONG TO GOD BECAUSE WE HAVE IN US HIS OWN IMAGE. GOD WILLS THE SALVATION OF ALL PEOPLE. AT THE SAME TIME HE RESPECTS THEIR FREE WILL AND FORCES NO ONE TO LOVE HIM.

ST. PAUL GIVES US A BEAUTIFUL SUMMARY OF OUR FAITH AND HOPE CONCERNING LIFE AFTER DEATH.

“EYE HAS NOT SEEN, EAR HAS NOT HEARD, NOR HAS IT ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.