MERCY: Sin and Grace

Posted on Sep 08, 2017

23rd Week in Ordinary Time
September 14 RCIA Session

Ezekiel 33:7-9
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Romans 13:8-10
Matthew 18:15-20

"But if you warn the wicked..."   -cf. Ezekiel 33:7-9 

"Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another fulfills the law."  -cf. Romans 13:8-10

SCHEDULE:   RCIA Thursdays, 7-9 pm: ROOM LIST

  • Adults who wish to inquire about Catholic faith are welcome to meet every Thursday from 7:00-9:00 pm:  English-speaking adults meet in the Holy Family Room, Spanish-speaking in the St. Augustine Room.
  • Spanish-speaking parents meet in the Cafeteria each week, after taking their children/youth to their RCIA rooms.  Their children/youth will return to them in the cafeteria to close the evening as a family at 8:30 pm.
  • English-speaking parents will begin in Anne's Office, near the Cafeteria this Thursday at 7 pm, after taking their children/youth to their RCIA rooms.  Their children will also rejoin them at 8:30 pm.
  • High School youth go to the "little gray house" called the PMC or Parish Meeting Center.  Seventh and 8th graders go to ROOM 11.  Fifth and 6th graders go to ROOM 12.  Third and 4th graders go to ROOM 7.  First and 2nd graders go to the ART ROOM.  Babysitting will be in ROOM 1.

FEASTS THIS WEEK: Exaltation of the Cross

September 14 – Exaltation of the Cross; September 15 – Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows; September 16 – St. Cornelius, Pope & Martyr and St. Cyprian, Bishop & Martyr


PRACTICE THE FAITH:  Recognizing Sin & Grace 

  • Read Chapter 23 of the USCCA.   
  • Reflect on the experience of "freedom" - this is a difficult concept for Americans.  We view freedom as the opportunity to do and be whatever we want to do or be.  But in the Christian sense, in its most perfect form, "freedom" is the ability to "freely" choose what God wills for us - to be "free" enough to will what God wills and to love as God loves.  What stands in the way of you receiving God's love?  What stands between you and the ability to love others?
  • This week, do an Examination of Conscience each night.  Pinpoint interactions or events from the day past when you were freely loving, and other times when you were not free to love.  What sin is there?  What grace?  Right it in a journal each night this week.  Do not feel you have to share this with anyone but God.
  • Help your children take time to examine their conscience each evening.  Where and when could they do this?  What help would they need?


CONNECTIONS:  Understanding the Tradition

"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother."  -cf. Matthew 18:15-20

This week's readings speak about love, but not always in the ways we are accustomed to speaking of love.  Love is not just a feeling, but a decision to do what is right and good on behalf of another, whether we enjoy that person or not.  Love requires good deeds, kind words, gentleness, patience and much more: but often overlooked is the need to be honest with our brothers and sisters when they are failing to do what is right and good, to do what God asks of them.  This can be a "tricky" territory - and it requires a careful balance between listening and confronting gently and effectively.  We really do not know what God is doing in another person, but when we see much turmoil and suffering, kindly walking with that person and helping them to see new ways, possible ways God is calling them, can be a true gift to them.  

Today's readings are an invitation to accept the reality of sin in our lives, in each of us - but also to know, first hand, the surpassing power of God's love for us and his boundless mercy and compassion.  Our happiness and the happiness of every human person, each one made in the image of God, is to do the will of God, loving ALL others as God loves us.  Our ability to do "good" is measured in our ability (freedom) to love God, to love our neighbor, to cooperate with God's grace in our lives.

 "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."  -cf. Psalm 95

How do you feel about these statements from the Catechism?

"We cannot speak about life in Christ or the moral life without acknowledging the reality of sin, our own sinfulness, and our need for God's mercy.  ...Admitting the reality of sin helps us to be truthful and opens us to the healing that comes from Christ's redemptive act."   p. 312

"Original Sin...darkens our minds, weakens our wills, and inclines us to sin.  ...Within us then, is both the powerful surge toward the good because we are made in the image of God, and the darker impulses toward evil because of the effects of Original Sin."  p. 310

"Human freedom is more than a capacity to choose between this and that.  It is the God-given power to become who he created us to be and so to share eternal union with him.  This happens when we consistently choose ways that are in harmony with God's plan.  Christian morality and God's law are not arbitrary, but are specifically given to us for our happiness."  p. 310

"The best way to grow in freedom is to perform good acts.  Good deeds help to make us free and develop good habits.  The road to loss of freedom is through evil acts.  Sin makes us slaves of evil and reduces our capacity to be free. "  p. 311

"The Christian moral life is one that seeks to cultivate and practice virtue.  "A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good.  It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself."  p. 315

How does Jesus "teach" us the moral life?

If Jesus is Savior and Redeemer, from what does he save and redeem us?  How does he do this?

What is your experience of "grace": that is to say, has there ever been a time have you felt an outpouring of peace accompanied by the courage and desire to overcome some shortcoming you find in yourself?  Can you imagine letting "grace" lead you every day?


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