Fr. Jose Fortea from Spain is a powerful exorcist from the Church. However, despite his work and his world wide preaching on drawing close to the faith, he will explain that understanding the faith is simple it is all in the Bible and in Church teaching. If we understand this, then we will understand what it means to be a Catholic. It is important for us to see it this, because we can get lost in the idea that our Catholic faith is rocket science. It is not. It is powerful and it is even more powerful in its simplicity.
We can see a basic message to it in our second reading. St. Paul who is writing to the Christians in Rome is teaching us that we need to be dead to sin, but alive in Christ. Remember, St. Paul was the apostle to the gentiles so he is writing to those former pagans now Christians who do not have Judaism in their background. They are learning about Christ and his teachings from the ground up leaving the pagan practices of the Roman religions some we today consider virtuous and others we do not. He is also writing to the Jews who are living in Rome embracing Christ.
He is teaching them some basic principles of the faith that lay the groundwork for what become profound teachings in the faith. Here he is giving a simple principle. Be dead to sin, but alive to Christ. If you want to understand this may I remind you of the words of Robert Frost in his poem The Road Less Traveled. It is a similar principle. We can see it also in the words of Jesus of taking the narrow path and not the wide path.
Essentially it is simple, the ways of the world lead to death and the ways of Christ lead to life. It is that simple. So to be dead to sin means simply to cut yourself off from the ideas of the world and to embrace the ways of life. You can turn this into rocket science and complicate this, but please do not. It is not complicated. If you embrace Christ and His ways in the Church. If you embrace the sacramental life of the Church and live a prayerful life seeking the wisdom of God, you will turn from those things that lead away from God and promise ultimately nothing but death. So, he is talking about a way of living where your focus is on doing those things that will lead to life and avoiding those things that lead to death.
St. Paul in the Galatians gives a good example of both attitudes: He teaches: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions occasions of envy drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.”
He continues to talk of living in the ways of the spirit, the ways that lead to life: In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no rocket science here. Indeed, the fruits of the flesh you can read in any newspaper, it is all right there. But as he says, there is no law against living by the spirit. In that, we put our trust in Christ and do his will and the fruits of will be less and less of the former and more of the latter. When we do that we not only are on the path to life, we are not only living the ways of the spirit. We are also living in such a way that we speak to others by our lives of the power of Christ.
In fact, if we are not living the second list, there is no reason to preach the Gospel for we are not walking the talk. But if we are living the second list, if we are living in such a way that we are alive for Christ, there is no reason to speak of the Gospel our lives are doing it for us.
But to do that we need to be people who are faithful to the mass and faithful in our prayers. We need to be well versed in the New Testament so that the words of the Gospels and the Apostles can teach us daily how to live in such a way that we are by default we are alive for Christ and dead to sin.
When we do that and ask the Lord to strengthen our witness to Him, we grow more alive in Christ and more dead to sin. This means we desire the ways of Christ and not the ways of the world.
We become like the former drinker who discovers he can have a great time in life without ever touching alcohol or if he does he drinks to enjoy the taste not to get drunk. It is this call that we are called to live. Others preach he opposite, they teach people to live for sin and be dead to Christ and as you know that does not work out for people ever.
So heed the words of St. Paul. Be alive in Christ and dead to sin, seek from him the ways of the world that lead us to the joy of Christ and then lead others away from those things in the world that promise nothing but death.
Fr. Carr is member of the Segundo Elo of the Canção Nova Community. He is the parochial vicar of St. Michael’s Parish in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA and is the editor of this blog. He is the author of several books, blogs and hundreds of videos all of which you may find on Youtube. You can follow him on twitter as @frbobcarr and on Google plus as+FrRobertCarr, his website is Carrbooks.com. Thoughts, comments on the homily? Let us know at Facebook