Saturday, September 21, 2019

2019-Sep-21 Homily on the Feast of St Matthew


Today is the feast of St Matthew today. St Matthew was a tax collector who dropped everything and followed Jesus when Jesus called him. He later went on to write his version of the Gospel that bears his name. His version of the Gospel was one of the four versions that record the Church’s understanding of Jesus and of his teaching. The sad thing today is despite the consistent teaching of the Church through centuries, many have rejected the teaching of the Apostles and claim to know the truth about Jesus Christ. Which is why in North America alone, we have more than 30,000 Christian communities who claim they know the truth. By doing so, they destroy the unity of the Church and go against what St Paul stressed in the first reading: there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
Catholics believe that the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth because Jesus revealed everything to the Apostles and their successors in the Catholic Church. Some say this is an arrogant claim. But the Church claims this not to boast, but to let people know where they can find truth. She merely repeats the claim of her Bridegroom that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
This is why it is extremely sad that many prominent Catholic lay theologians and clergy prefer to preach their own opinions rather than the authentic teaching of the Church. By doing so, they confuse Catholics about the truth such that today, using the phrase, the teaching of the Church, causes confusion because some of those who represent the Church preach error.
So how will we know if someone preaches the truth? We know whether someone preaches the truth if it is based on the teaching of the Apostles and of the early Church. The teaching of the Church from the time of the Apostles to the Early Church Fathers has been consistent throughout centuries. It is only now, in our generation, that many intentionally teach error for their own purpose. These claim to want unity so they bully the faithful to compromise and be silent. But unity within Holy Mother Church is not achieved by compromising the truth or accepting what others say so as not to offend them. Unity is achieved by remaining faithful to the teaching of the Apostles. The first reading tells us that the gifts of Christ should build up the body of Christ in unity and knowledge of the Son of God. This is done only when the truth is taught and when Jesus Christ is preached. If a teaching does not preach Jesus Christ truthfully or distorts his teaching, it destroys the Church which is the Body of Christ.
The Church grows in unity and knowledge of the Son of God when she calls people to repentance to follow Jesus. Jesus called Matthew and Matthew responded to that call. Matthew’s response scandalized the Pharisees because they thought holiness is obedience to the law. Yet, for Jesus, holiness is achieved by following him through repentance after one hears the truth proclaimed.
One of the more common opinions today is the Church needs to be pastoral, therefore, loving and accepting because God is merciful. While Scripture repeatedly tells us God is merciful and his love endures forever, it is erroneous to preach that God is merciful therefore, I can do what I want without changing myself because he accepts me for who I am. This preaching does not lead to a knowledge of Jesus Christ. This teaches that there is no need for repentance, therefore, no need for forgiveness therefore, no need for a Savior. If there is no need for a Savior, then Jesus died for nothing because there is no need to atone for sin. The sick need a physician. But if the sick does not go to the physician, then the sick will die, soon. If the sinner does not go the Jesus, the sinner will also die in their sins. The Gospel says, Jesus came to call sinners and this call requires a response. Matthew shows how to respond: drop everything and follow Jesus.
This is the message of the Apostles which the Psalm describes as the message that goes out through all the earth. This has been the message through centuries and will be the message until the end of time. There are many heresies in the Church today, but we know that like all heresies, these will fail because not even the gates of hell will prevail against the Church. The message since the time of the Apostles is: we are sinners. We need to repent and in doing so, Jesus becomes our Savior. There is no other Savior than Jesus Christ. So we accept the Sacrifice of Jesus at this mass, relying on his mercy, that we are saved, not by anything else, but by the grace and mercy of God when we repent of our sins and follow Jesus.

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