Audio Sermons

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

    There are some people who say that we cannot know what the will

    of God, at least not with much certainty. Saint Paul would not be one

    of those people. In the short passage we have today as part of our

    second reading he tells the Christians at Rome not to conform

    themselves to the thinking of the present age but to be transformed

    and renewed in their mind so they may, “…discern what is the will of

    God, what is good and pleasing, and perfect.”

    Now, discerning what is the will of God is actually not that difficult.

    Let’s start with what God finds ‘good’. It is good to follow the

    commandments God has given us. They are a gift to us and

    everything God gives us is good. Following them is good because that

    keeps up from hurting ourselves and hurting others. Following them

    is good because that enables us to make more of our lives than we

     

    would without them. And following the commandments reveals to

    others the goodness of God’s love and wisdom.

    Another thing that God finds good is harmony between his

    children. Psalm 133 begins this way: “How good and pleasant it is

    when brothers live in unity. It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls

    on the mountains of Zion. For there the LORD ordained his blessing, life

    forevermore.” When we strive to live in unity with others, at

    whatever level: family, school, neighborhood, workplace, country, or

    world, God finds that very good indeed.

     

    But what about what is pleasing to God?

    Listening to Jesus is something God finds to pleasing. When Jesus

    was transfigured and his glory shown through his human form for a

    moment the Father spoke and said for the apostles who were present

    to hear: This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen

    to him.” When we listen to Jesus and put his words into effect we are

    building a solid foundation for our lives, as Jesus told us, that will

     

    enable us, not only to bear up under the pressures of life and resist

    unwholesome temptations, but to be more like Christ himself and the

    more we are like Christ the more God will be pleased with us.

    Humility is pleasing to God. In Psalm 51 it says: “The sacrifice

    acceptable to God is a humbled spirit; a humble and contrite heart, O

    God, you will not spurn.” A humble heart is pleasing to God because

    it will lead the humble person to God and will lead to extending mercy

    to others which is also very pleasing to God. So is the practice of

    charity in word and speech and action. God likes those. And God is

    always pleased when we spend time with Him in prayer. In Psalm

    141:2 it says: “Let my prayer rise up before you like incense, my

    uplifted hands an evening sacrifice.” Short prayers, long prayers,

    prayers from an assembly or private prayers spoken in silence, all

    prayers that come from a humble heart are pleasing to God.

    So we know what God finds good and pleasing, but what about the

    perfect. Can we discern what God finds perfect and become perfect

    ourselves? Well, it was certainly something that Jesus expected. He

     

    said in Matthew 5: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    That is a lot to expect, isn’t it, to be perfect?

    But we have to understand a couple of things. Perfect in this sense

    does not mean to be free of error or even free of sin. And it doesn’t

    mean to have complete understanding of things. So how can we be

    perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect? We can love perfectly.

    Yes, we can. We can love with God-like love because we are made in

    the image and likeness of God. I am not speaking about feelings or

    emotions or sentiments here. I am speaking about the movement of

    the heart and will that desires what is right and good and best for

    another and seeks to achieve it without any benefit to the one who

    loves.

    That is how God loves us. That is how, we can, with the help of

    God, love others. We can move past our human limitations and see

    others not for what they lack, not just their sins, and not just their

    failures. We can see them for what they can be, what God wants

    them to be, we can see them as Jesus Christ sees them. We can see

     

    others as God sees them. And then we can love them. This is what

    God finds perfect and this will make you, in the sight of God, good,

    pleasing, and perfect.