This is a transcript of a recent homily from Fr. Larry Richards. You can listen to Fr. Richards’ homilies on his website, The Reason for Our Hope.
Today, the second part of the gospel focuses on sin, and so we need to focus on sin and to deal with it.
The word of God says,
“God hates sin.”
And there got to be a point in our life where we hated sin too. But it’s interesting, because often, people hate everybody else’s sin but not their own.
We become blinded to our own sins. It’s so important that we start with us first. That’s why Jesus says, “Don’t look at the speck in your brother’s eye until you deal with the plank in yours.” And that means all of us, we’ve got to deal with our sin.
And as we deal with that sin, we’ve got to cut it out. We’ve got to repent of it.
G.K. Chesterton on Sin
There was a writer we all know, G.K. Chesterton, remember he’s a writer, a big Catholic writer from the last century. Had a great influence on the world.
The Times was writing different authors like him to have them do a reflection for their paper on what is wrong with the world. And so they asked G.K. Chesterton to write an article on what is wrong with the world.
He responded. He said, “Dear sirs, I am. Yours truly, G.K. Chesterton.”
He had the option to focus on all the things in the world that are wrong, and boy we can do that now.
We could focus on all the things that are wrong with the world, with America, with our Church, but G.K. Chesterton says,
“We’ve got to deal with me first. I’m the problem. It’s my sin. My selfishness. I’m the problem. I am.”
Dealing With Our Sin
And so that’s where we all need to begin with: my sin.
It’s amazing isn’t it. When Jesus talks about it, He says,
“Don’t lead anybody into sin, especially little ones.”
And it’s not just children of course, He was talking about those simple in the faith. Don’t lead them astray. And how often we have led people into sin!
You know, not the sins you might think about, but when you gossip with somebody, you’re leading one of the little ones into sin. If you tell a dirty joke to somebody, you’re leading one of the little ones into sin. If you sit there and you say a detraction, you’re leading one of the little ones into sin.
We’ve got to sit there and watch before we’re ready to throw rocks at everybody. Think about, when I’m in middle of saying my detraction, these are true stories but I’m going to say them. You’re leading the little ones into sin.
Now, we’re not in any way talking about not dealing with sin. Of course we’ve got to deal with sin, but the way God deals with sin is how?
The cross. The cross is the way Jesus deals with sin.
He takes it and He pays the penalty. Again, there’s a lot of people talking about justice. We demand justice Father. It’s all I hear. Justice. I agree, let me tell you. Let’s deal with justice but let’s start with you.
When we’re going to deal with the sin and we’re going to deal with justice, instead of looking again, let’s do it the way God’s going to do it and let’s start with you and me and our sins.
How to Understand Mercy and Justice
I’ve been thinking a lot about death these last weeks.
Last Sunday my mother went to the hospital emergency room, I went down, we put her in a nursing home on Friday, and then yesterday my sister called me. Things aren’t going well. We’re going to have to put her into hospice.
And so again, this afternoon right after Mass I’ll go down and deal with all this stuff. But as I’ve been thinking and reflecting on death, I got to think about what’s happening, when my mother stands before God, my mother as married three times. She wasn’t a perfect human being as none of us are. But I had a priest go and spend time with her on Friday morning. Before we go I says because I’m her son, it’s different with me but,
“Get her ready. Get her ready to see the Father.”
And I just know that in spite of all my mother’s sins and in spite of all her imperfections that our God is a God of mercy. That this is who God is. That He’s not as horrible as some people make Him out to be.
That we’ve got to start with us and our sin. When you and I come to the end of our life, when God’s dealing with us, He sits there and we have dealt with our sin and we didn’t look at everybody else’s sin. But when we do this, we’ve got to remember what justice is about.
Justice, God fulfills justice on the cross.
He Himself fills the justice of God. That’s where justice is fulfilled. We get it. If sin is not punished then God is not a just God.
If you and I embrace our sin and we say, “We like our sin. We’re going to keep our sin,” then when God goes to punish the sin, He will punish you. He will punish me.
If we embrace the sin, we will get the punishment of God. That’s the way justice works.
But, if we repent of that sin, we’ll say “God I’m so sorry. I’ll never do that again. You’ve got to help me. I need your grace.” Then when God goes to punish the sin, His mercy comes upon us.
It depends on what we embrace. Do we embrace our sin and say, “Well this is just who I am. I’m going to stay like this, it doesn’t matter.” Or do you and I constantly repent? Because think about it.
It Starts with Us: Repentance from Sin
When He says, “If your eye causes you to sin,” what’s He say? Pluck it out.
If we did that, there isn’t a man in this church who would be seeing right now. Is that true? It’s very true. Me neither. My eyes would be gone and so would yours.
But isn’t it interesting that He says,
“If YOUR eyes cause you to sin, pluck them out.”
Not, if someone else’s eyes causes sin, pluck them out.
He doesn’t say anything about going around plucking out other people’s eyes. He says, “Let’s start with you. Let’s start with you.”
Whenever you and I start getting real righteous about everything that’s going on, let’s refocus. Let’s start with me. If I demand justice of everybody else and that’s the way it must be, then that’s the way God’s going to deal with us.
“We’re not where God wants us to be yet.”
If you read my tweet last night, it was from James, chapter 2 verse 13. James, chapter 2 verse 13 says,
“Merciless is the judgment which is shown to those who show no mercy.”
But what’s the next line, you know?
“Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
If you and I, if we don’t look at our sins first and we judge everybody else, there will be no mercy for you. You and I will be damned, period. No mercy for those who show no mercy.
But, if you and I are constantly repenting, saying, “Jesus give me the grace,” and then praying for the repentance of others, and instead of judging them and demanding justice of them, I am bringing them mercy, then mercy will come to you and me. Again, the way you measure others will be measured back to you.
All of us today, when we look at the problems in the Church and in the world and someone asks us, “What is the problem with all these things?” You and I will respond, “I am.”
And until you know that in the depths of your heart, we’re not where God wants us to be yet. And then when you and I learn to receive the repentance of sin, we’ve got to repent of all of our sin.
We can never ever say okay to our sin but when we repent of it and then mercy is given, isn’t it amazing that God doesn’t remember our sins after we confess it? Is that true? And if God does that with us, then what should we do with others? Be the same. And again, if you say, “Oh no. I will not forget.” Well then oh no, God will not forget you. He will not forget your sin.
Today, we’ve got to begin with me and my sins and repent of them.
Then when you and I start there, there should be great mercy for everybody who’s not there.
You got it? Get it? Going to live it?
Make sure to know His love today and forever. Amen. What’s wrong with the world?