daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, Last Week of the Year, December 02, 2017
Daniel 7:15-27, Daniel 3, Luke 21:34-36

Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted.


"But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:34-36).

Today is the last day of the last week of the liturgical year - the last day of the Church year, and our attention remains focused on the last things: the great tribulations of the last days and the sudden coming of the Lord, when people least expect him. It will be as it was in the days of Noah and Lot. It caught them unawares and unprepared, at an unexpected time, when they were in the midst of their sins, and they were all suddenly swept away and destroyed with no time to repent. In Noah's case it came by a flood, and in Lot's case by fire and brimstone raining down upon them from heaven. And Jesus tells us, "So will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed" (Luke 17:30). His coming will be sudden, like a flash of lightning, "for as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will be the Son of man in his day" (Luke 17:24).

"I tell you," Jesus says, "in that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left" (Luke 17:34-35).

The whole point is that as Christians we should always live in vigilant readiness, for we do not know the day of the Lord's coming. Let that day not catch us unprepared, wasting our time and talents. We are always to be in the Lord's service, using the talents God has given us, not for ourselves, but in his service.

Are we always doing this? Or are we simply using our talents in our own service, for ourselves and our own pleasures and entertainments? We should not be weighed down by such worldly pleasures. "But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare" (Luke 21:24).

So what kind of a life are we supposed to live as Christians? We are to live a life of Christian perfection, as Jesus tells us, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). And Jesus has much to say about this life of Christian perfection that he expects of his followers. It is to be the life that he describes in his parable of the buried treasure:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Matthew 13:44).

Obtaining the treasure of the kingdom of God is to be our goal. But how do we obtain it? As the man who discovered a buried treasure was only able to obtain possession of it by selling all that he had in order to be able to buy the field containing the treasure and so be able to claim it as his own, so we too must renounce all that we have to obtain the treasure of the kingdom of God.

And how do we sell all that we have? We can do it by living for God alone in all that we do, in our whole way of life. To live for God alone we must renounce living for ourselves and for our own pleasures. We should, therefore, eat simple, basic, plain, healthy food, not doctored-up, spiced-up dishes and fancy unhealthy desserts. We should avoid worldly entertainments, exotic pleasure trips, and worldly movies. We should try to live a plain and simple life, totally dedicated to the Lord, a life of prayer, simplicity in eating and living, and work for the Lord.

Jesus called his apostles to train them as preachers of his gospel of salvation. He then sent them out to the ends of the earth to preach this good news to the whole creation, to make disciples of all nations (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19). They were to be totally dedicated to this work of preaching. "Another of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead'" (Matthew 8:21-22). They were to leave their family behind and live henceforth totally for the Lord. They were to preach the death and resurrection of Christ as the basis for repentance and the forgiveness of sins, because "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3) to atone for them with his death by making full reparation for them.

"Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, ‘If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:25-26).

Jesus made this radical statement not to a select few, but to everyone, to "great multitudes." Nothing should take precedence over Christ in our life, not even our family. Our call to serve the Lord must come first and must be first and foremost in our life.

Celibates will be able to do this in the fullest, most complete, literal, and radical way of all. That is why for a Christian, celibacy is the highest state in life, higher than Christian marriage, as St. Paul clearly teaches (1 Corinthians 7:32-35, 38-40). Celibacy greatly facilitates loving God with all our heart, with an undivided heart in our love for him, which is the highest way of perfection.

But married people are also called to a life of perfection together as a couple, as two in one flesh, as best they can, renouncing worldliness and a worldly lifestyle together as a couple and dedicating themselves together as a couple to the Lord's service.

But a celibate priest has great advantages in living a life of Christian perfection, living only for the Lord, for he sacrifices even the love of a Christian spouse and reserves this kind of nuptial, spousal love for the Lord alone. He has an exclusive nuptial relationship with God that excludes a human spouse. He is called to live for the Lord alone in a very literal and radical way. Also he spends all his time in Christian ministry and in preaching the gospel and celebrating the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

A disciple of Jesus should renounce everything that he has for the sake of the Lord in order to live only for his service, as Jesus clearly tells us, "So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33). This is the formula for a life of Christian perfection. We are to have only one treasure, the Lord, as Jesus tells us, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

See how Jesus clearly calls his followers to a life of perfection, and see how often he explains what such a life involves! It is a life of renunciation of all else to live for the Lord alone, to live a life of prayer and fasting, a life of prayer and simplicity, a life that renounces the world and a worldly lifestyle and is dedicated to preaching the gospel to the world in order to save it.

We are to love God with our whole heart, and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Preaching the gospel to the world shows our love of our neighbor and our desire to save the world from its false worldliness that is destroying it. In preaching to the world we make known to it its Savior.

This life for the Lord is to be our only treasure, for the Lord is our only treasure. St. Paul also tells us to live not for ourselves but for the Lord, "He [Christ] died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Corinthians 5:15). We are clearly called to live no longer for ourselves, but for Christ. And this is how we do it, by serving only one master, not God and also a life of worldly pleasure, for "no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).

This is the narrow but true way of life, not the broad and easy way of destruction of the many. Let us choose the narrow way of life of the few, and avoid the easy and wide way of destruction of the many. "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 6:13-14).

If we live in this way, we will be prepared and ready to meet the Lord, when he comes.


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