I don't totally agree with yesterday's homily

Sunday Mass yesterday, the topic was about “loving your God with all our soul and our strength”. Thus the homily was about sacrificial love. The priest give an example of some journalist who withnessed a mother in a refugee camp where there was no food to eat, but a piece of sweet potato, and how she fed her child carefully with the only sweet potato she had, and then she died. According to the priest, this is the example of sacrificial love. I don’t totally agree with him : why would we always talk about our own strength, thus our own sacrificial love? If only the mother took some of the sweet potato, she might have lived. Her sacrificial love did mean a lot for the child, but it would have meant more if only she was going on living to raise him.

At the end of the homily the priest mentioned how “we can love only if we see Christ example”. My disagreement with him is that “Christ died on the cross” is not a mere “example” for us to “imitate”. I do agree that He is our example, but more than that, Christ died so that we live. Thus to follow Christ is not the same as “imitating” Him as a mere moral action example.

This has been my problems with many homilies I hear : that we focus with our own strength to imitate Christ. My idea of “following Christ” is to believe Him more than just an example.

Of course we are to view Christ as more than an example, but we are also called to live as Christ, as we are now literally members of the Body of Christ. Catholic Tradition is that by Baptism and the Sacraments we gain and grow in the very Life of Christ, becoming participators in His Glory and Power. This doesn’t mean we replace Christ on the Cross or any such nonsense, but rather than we share in what Christ does and did, and are called to be His hands in the world.

If we simply look to Christ as being our Savior, but fail to actually live His Life and do His works, such as through self-sacrificial care, then we really aren’t being full Christians at all. I imagine that this is what the priest is trying to convey in his homilies.

I recommend reading Paul’s Letter to the Galatians for more on this subject.

Peace and God bless!

‘Greater love hath no man than this, to lay down his life …’

If there was only a small amount of food available I would go without to give it to my child/ren.

When food is in short supply, countless mothers have dished it up to everyone else, reserving a small amount for themselves. If it is commented on, they smile and say that they are not very hungery.

Been there, done that. So did my mother.

The mother in question (in the refugee camp), might have survived, but her child might also have died. That child might have grown up and discovered the cure for infantile diabeties or cancer.

That child might have one day touched and converted the heart of someone who would go on to do great good in the world. Of course, he/she might have grown up to be a serial killer.

Only God knows the outcome, yet no unselfish act goes unrewarded.

First, I think the word “Iimitate” really shouldn’t be too much of a concern, if, the word is understood as trying to follow a pattern or way of life. Hopefully this is how your priest meant the term to be understood.

Sunday’s readings are one of those times I think the three readings could have been different yet brought out, in my opinion, the same message. Instead of the Letter to the Hebrews I think Philippinians 2 would have been better. I say this because if you read the first reading and then the Gospel, I think the message is ones attitude is what is really important and must form the foundation of any action we might due.

Christ Paschal Sacrifice, when you think about it, happened because He totally surrendered His Will to the Father’s. He would not compromise this surrender knowing that it would lead to his death. St Paul in his letter to the Philippians tells us that this must be our attitude as well. Also, as brought out in the reading from the OT and the Gospel, part of Christ sacrifice, and thus must be the pattern of our life, was to understand God’s active presence in our world here and now and commit Himself totally to God’s presence.

So, I think perhaps in a dramatic way, what your priest was trying to say is to be true followers of Christ we must sacrifice our self to the Father’s Will.

Sure there are many possible “if only” scenario for the mother & child. But that is not my point. The priest use such story for a teaching of “loving your God with all your strength” is actually accurate, but such is only “up to the law” (old testament teaching) and he has not touch any good news yet. His teaching about Jesus is only up to Christ as an “example” to “imitate”.

The good news must go to places where the mother insist on living, because she love her child. To live and raise her child is much greater sacrifice.

To love God with all our strength is Moses law. So long we focus on our own strength to love God, we have not gone to the new testament yet.

I’m not sure how the mother insisting on living is necessarily showing love or sacrifice. It could very well be that there was only enough food for one person to survive.

But that is beside the point. We are called to Love as Christ Loved, and He Loved in obedience unto death. We may not be able to make solid prudential judgements all the time of when our death is really demanded, but we must be constantly ready to lay down our lives for our loved ones, and they should include all humanity. Whether or not the mother COULD have survived to do greater things is beyond our measurement, but what we do know is that she was Loving with Christ’s Love in making the Sacrifice she did. She wasn’t simply committing suicide or anything so dismal. Even if her prudential judgement was off, her spiritual understanding was great, and that is what truly connects us to God.

“Love your God with all your heart and strength” is not merely the Mosaic Law, it’s is the Law from Christ’s own mouth (which is the point of the Gospel). The Good News is simply that God has Sacrificed Himself so that we may have the Grace to not only Love within human limits, but with supernatural limits, indeed without limits because God’s Love becomes our own.

The Council of Trent, while speaking of Justification, has this to say about its character:

For though no one can be just except he to whom the merits of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet this takes place in that justification of the sinner, when by the merit of the most holy passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of those who are justified and inheres in them; whence man through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives in that justification, together with the remission of sins, all these infused at the same time, namely, faith, hope and charity.

For faith, unless hope and charity be added to it, neither unites man perfectly with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body.

That is the fullness of the Good News that the Catholic Church teaches. The Passion, in all its Glory, is for this reason: that God’s own Love, His Charity, is poured forth into us and “inheres”, becomes part of us (related to the word “inherent”). The Passion is for this very purpose, so it can’t be overemphasized, IMO.

Peace and God bless!

It is very heart wrenching but there are indeed some places in the world in which there is very little food. I’m sure the mother did not want to die. She wasn’t committing suicide.

Her only choice seems to have been to feed her child and let him live or feed herself and let him die. I think what she did was admirable and touching.

I think that you are approaching the story as though the mother had a third choice, that both she and her son could live, but it sounds as though she did not have this option.

Here in the West we are very blessed to not have to face such choices.

uh, that is so that “we may Live” , as in eternal Life, it has nothing to do with the physical body.

i bleieve it was mentioned earlier,

“There is not greater gift than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”…JC

Hi all,

Christ lay down His life so that we may believe that He can and WILL help those who are hungry yet HOPING and TRUSTING Him.

Motherly life is no inferior compared to dying of hunger for her child.

To teach the good news, it is not enough that we ask the people to “imitate Christ”, for we all know that for sure. The homily must include the aspect of how Christ is not mere “an example to follow” but He also “the savior and the hope” for mothers and children who are dying.

After talking about the law with the scribe, Jesus then said “You are not far from the kingdom of God”.

Mark 12
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question.

“Being not far from the kingdom” didn’t show that the scribe have understood the good news.

To ask the people to “imitate Christ out of their own stregth” is the same as to ask the people to “love God with all your stregth”. I am sure that all the people have understood this even before they heard the homily. And this was “not far” from the kingdom, but hasn’t arrive there yet. The “savior” aspect of Jesus (this is the good news), had no place there in the homily yet.

I agree that her story is touching, and that her deed was noble. I have no intention to condemn her nor those who are still suffering in this world. My point is the message of the homily.

Here in the West we are very blessed to not have to face such choices.

Exactly.

We will only get the message “do the best you can” from such homily.

Consider another example. A woman has always had the dream of proving women can climb Mt. Everest. So, leaving her eight year old daughter at home, she climbs Mt. Everest. Then goes around giving lectures in various schools in the country on how she has proved to her daughter women can do anything. She took the chance of death to prove this to her daughter so her daughter would be confident. My daughter, 14, met her and listened to her. then wrote an essay on the absolute irresponsibility of the woman to her daughter as she took an unnecessary risk with her own life to prove to her daughter she could do something that God was not calling her to do. God was calling her to be a mother to her daughter. Instead she chose mountain climbing. Two ways of looking at the same thing.

I think people get confused about what God really wants from them. And your priest was focusing on us in order to inspire and instruct us in properly following Christ. It is not that he is discounting Christ. He is attempting to assist us in our decision making and priorities.

I like your reply.

Francisca,

I know what you mean. I have a real hunger to hear homilies about supernatural realities - sermons where the primary focus is Jesus, the Trinity, heaven, hell, angels, or grace, etc. These are topics that lead us to think about God; come to know Him; love Him. And once we love Him, we will automatically want to please Him by doing as He asks. The Mass readings could often be used to address these topics, but rarely is; the focus is put on us instead.

Nita

francisca,

I do not understand your use of “Thus” in the second sentence of your post:

*Sunday Mass yesterday, the topic was about “loving your God with all our soul and our strength”. Thus the homily was about sacrificial love. *

To me, loving God with all my strength is a subject unto itself that is, of course, prior to any possibility of loving sacrificially, but – when loving God is the subject or the idea being discussed, generally it does not automatically mean that the idea of sacrificial love is meant. I think your priest made an error.

In summary, while sacrificial love is an outgrowth of loving God, when I want to talk to you about love of God, I am not asking you to talk to me about sacrificial love – that’s a different subject.

Love of God is its OWN subject and needs its own time and attention – all by itself.

So I suppose in a way I agree with you that the homily was not quite right in its focus. Perhaps that mother had the instinct to not eat, but she could easily do that without loving God or even knowing about him. So I think the incident he observed is not germane to a discussion of love of God.

Exactly.

The responsorial psalms on that particular sunday was from Psalms 18, it reads like this

Psalms 18

1 1 For the leader. Of David, the servant of the LORD, who sang to the LORD the words of this song after the LORD had rescued him from the clutches of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.
2 He said: I love you, LORD, my strength,
3 2 LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!
4 Praised be the LORD, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.

The people response was verse 2 : I love you, Lord, MY STRENGTH !

I think the book of Psalms is full of the teaching of the good news. No wonder Jesus was called the son of David. But homilies rarely address the psalms.

My word “thus” above means “so then the priest decided that”. It was the priests own word to say that the homily was “about sacrificial love”

I think your priest made an error.

I wouldn’t go that far. I think he was accurate about the first law of torah, but he did not go any further than that.

I think he was not a unique case. There were many homilies I have heard which message focus on ourselves “things we should do”.

In summary, while sacrificial love is an outgrowth of loving God, when I want to talk to you about love of God, I am not asking you to talk to me about sacrificial love – that’s a different subject.

Love of God is its OWN subject and needs its own time and attention – all by itself.

So I suppose in a way I agree with you that the homily was not quite right in its focus. Perhaps that mother had the instinct to not eat, but she could easily do that without loving God or even knowing about him. So I think the incident he observed is not germane to a discussion of love of God.

Yes. We can’t tell whether the mother died loving God. We only know that she died of hunger giving all the food she had to her child.

*I think he was wrong. Loving God is its own subject. Sacrificial love is about loving our neighbor as ourselves *.

*He chose to preach on loving our neighbor as ourselves instead of loving God with all our strength. Of course, they are related, but strictly speaking, he conflated two ideas and two subjects, in my opinion. *

But that is Christ’s message, and there’s no doubt about that! What is a Commandment if not a direction to act? The Christian message is not about thinking lofty thoughts – it’s about acting in the world. Love of God is the foundation for that. So, in my opinion, which is informed by scripture, the focus is always on things we should do. That’s the entire point of Christ’s message, in my opinion. Saying Christianity isn’t about things we should do seems entirely wrong to me.

Again, the anecdote illustrates something other than love of God.

Well basicly both commandments were there in the readings. So yeah.

The Christian message is not about thinking lofty thoughts – it’s about acting in the world. Love of God is the foundation for that. So, in my opinion, which is informed by scripture, the focus is always on things we should do. That’s the entire point of Christ’s message, in my opinion. Saying Christianity isn’t about things we should do seems entirely wrong to me.

Well, the thing is, we can’t do anything without Christ.

If homilies always focus on things we should do, I tell you that I have known that. I know that I need to pray, to read bible, to feed the hungry, to be kind to my enemies. I know. What I do not know is how.

Moreover if we focus on things we shoud do, the homily message will become condemnations : Do this and you will enter heaven. So… in other words, what if I fail to do it? Is this the good news? Noway. If I can do all the good things, then I will enter heaven. Is this the news? Even non christians know that. You don’t have to be a christian to know if you do good things you will go to heaven.

We have to have faith but faith has to be active. In other words faith is not mere belief as some Protestants try to claim. In order to show faith you must have works, so a person could make a claim that both belief and works save you-that is what an active faith is afterall. Is that closer to what you mean?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.