Corpus Christi Blog

Approaching God with True Faith and Reverence

03-24-2019HomiliesFr. Chad King

My brothers and sisters, our readings today are so rich and full but before I jump into our reflection beginning with our well-known and powerful first reading of Moses and the burning bush, let us pause and ask God that we too will encounter our Lord as Moses did. To warn you though, you might find this homily a stronger homily than others, and like Moses, it might make you a little uncomfortable, but I would not be doing what I’m called to do as your pastor if I don’t.

In our 1st reading from the beginning of Exodus, Moses was going about what was probably a normal day tending the flock of his father-in-law, when suddenly the Lord appeared to Moses in fire flaming out of a bush, though on fire the bush was not being consumed or destroyed in the fire. Amazed and curious, Moses goes over to investigate why the bush was not being burned. Let us pause here for a second. How do you imagine Moses approached that magnificent sight? Did he approach carefully, maybe even fearfully? Or did he walk up sort of casually with great curiosity not to be deterred from his investigation? We learned earlier in his life that Moses was a fearless man, so I imagine Moses walked up casually with great curiosity, wanting to find out what was happening. This assumption makes sense because listen to what and how God speaks to Moses as he was walking over. God called out from the bush, “Moses, Exclamation Point! Moses, exclamation point! Moses stopped, and God continued, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground”. You can imagine how uncomfortable standing barefoot on the gravel must have felt. It’s reasonable to assume if Moses was approaching the burning bush carefully, and even fearfully, God wouldn’t have so emphatically needed to make Moses stop in his tracks.

After Moses stopped and took off his sandals, God continued saying to Moses, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. God introduced himself so that Moses could know who He was. It was only after Moses recognized it was God, did he humbly hide his face. Moses knew the stories the amazing things God to his forefathers. He heard the promise to Abraham that God would greatly bless him and even make of him a great nation, though his wife was barren. And Moses would have known that because of Abraham and Isaac’s faithfulness in obeying God, indeed, through Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, a great nation was formed, a nation so great that God even changed Jacob’s name to Israel. God then explained to Moses that He had seen the affliction and heard the cry of Israel, the great nation he had formed, and how they had become slaves in Egypt. And God wanted to use Moses to save them, to set them free, and lead them into their own land where they would have everything they needed, a land full of great promise.

Moses even had the audacity to ask God for his name, so that Israel would know what to call Him. However, that really wasn’t such a strange question. After all, there were many invented gods which people worshiped at this time, there was the sun god, the moon god, the god of the mountains, the god of the trees, so there were many types of gods the Egyptians and worshiped believing that if they did that good things to happen to them. However, the true God does give Moses his name, his identity, “’I AM who am’. Tell the Israelites that I AM sent me to you”. God is not one of the many gods of the various created things, God is the God of all of creation. God is not a being among many things; No, God is being, God is existence in Himself. God simply is, He is the eternal being. Therefore, the eternal God, who is Being Himself, through whom all creation has its existence, this God has revealed Himself. God has given his name, and reveals that He knows, deeply cares for, and loves the nation He has made. What a lesson Moses learned. Moses learned that God who brought everything into being has the right to determine how that being should act. But also learned that not only did God make creation, but that He deeply cares about all His creation. But above all, in all God’s majesty, Moses learned that God is approachable, but He deserves to be approached rightly.

My brothers and sisters, the same God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush appears to us upon this altar in the form of bread and wine. The same Jesus who later rightfully called Himself I AM, who amazingly became man upon the earth, who willingly died upon the Cross, was miraculously raised from the dead, and powerfully gives Himself to us in this and every Mass. The same God who revealed Himself to Moses, wants to reveal Himself to you and me in this Holy Eucharist. So, the questions we need to ask ourselves are: First: Do we really believe that it is God in this Blessed Sacrament? And secondly, how are we approaching God? When you approach God in Holy Communion, do you approach as Moses first did, casually, and without fear? Indeed, there should be a certain amount of fear, a certain amount of trepidation at the magnitude of what we are allowed to do. Friends, we should not approach God casually! Even though we say in every Mass, “Lord I am not worthy to receive you…” how many of us act as if we are worthy by our irreverence? What is your mind and heart thinking about as you come forward? What is your body language saying? How we approach reveals what we truly believe.

Do you truly recognize that you are approaching the almighty God, the eternal I AM? Or do you just approach out of routine? The Church teaches that those who are not Catholic, or Catholics who have not lived their lives according to Church teaching, should not receive the Sacrament of unity. For example, those Catholics not married in the Church, by saying ‘no’ to the grace of one Sacrament means you are saying ‘no’ to the grace in any Sacrament. Those divorced and living as if they are married to another through engaging in the marital act, are committing adultery and so should not receive. Similarly, those who have placed themselves outside of communion with the Church by willfully committing a mortal sin, should not act as if everything is OK and receive Holy Communion. The Church teaches that every Catholic must go to confession at least once a year, or whenever one is aware of mortal sin. So, if you are like many Catholics who haven't come to Confession for quite a while, or are aware of un-confessed mortal sins, you should not present yourself for Holy Communion. Some common mortal sins include those who have had an abortion, or helped others to have one. They are taking the sacred words of our Lord "This is my body" and desecrating them by selfishly applying them to the words of the woman without any concern for the baby, crying out 'this is my body'. Likewise, those who are using contraception, which in many cases are only killing a baby that has already been conceived. And those who willfully engage in pornography or masturbation are not living the gift of sexuality God has given for the good He has made it to be. Another common mortal sin, those who choose to miss Sunday Mass are choosing not to enter into the sacrifice of the Cross made present and choosing not to worship the almighty God as He commands and deserves. Do you treat missing Sunday Mass as no big deal, and that usually coming to Mass is good enough? That’s like saying, usually breathing is good enough. All mortal sins- that is those serious sins that we know are wrong but we choose to do anyways- must be confessed with a firm resolve to change before one can approach our Lord to receive the Holy Eucharist. Some people in these situations sometimes say or think: ‘the Church's teaching is too unfair and harsh, but God loves me so it’s OK, he understands’. However, Scripture says, "you say God's ways are unfair, rather, are not your ways that are unfair?" Yes, God still loves you, but we are not really loving God when we choose to ignore His commands. Then we are not living according to His ways, but our own; and we are not acting as if the God who brought us into being, knows how we should act for our well-being. It is the almighty God we are approaching in the Blessed Sacrament, God has declared to Moses, and throughout Scripture that there are consequences if we don’t approach him with the love and reverence that He deserves.

In our Gospel today, Jesus says, "Unless you repent, you will perish like the rest". What Jesus is saying is that the spiritual death for all of eternity that comes from unrepented mortal sin is just as real, if not much more severe, than physical death. But do we treat mortal sin as real as physical death, that we would do everything we can to avoid? Every mortal sin is choosing a literal and eternal death upon ourselves. So, my brothers and sisters, let us have no fear to run to God's love and mercy, hiding from God in shame is only hurting ourselves, rather let us have more fear of the punishment we inflict upon ourselves by every mortal sin. Therefore, if you are aware of mortal sin, I invite you to come to one of our scheduled confession times, schedule an appointment, or come to our Penance Service in a couple weeks. God’s fervent life is waiting for those who repent. That is what this season of Lent is all about.