Thursday, November 21, 2013
Cutting out sin: Daily Mass Homily--Thursday, November 21st, 2013 (Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
“As he finished saying these words, a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king’s order. When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice…”
What the heck? Is our first reading condoning murder?
When facing such passages in the Old Testament, we must keep a few things in mind. Granted, a daily Mass homily cannot do justice to explaining the nuances of reading the Old Testament, but here are a few pointers: First, we can’t lose the forest for the sake of the trees. Second, Jesus hasn’t yet come and we are in a period with a less clear understanding of God. Third, the Scriptures were written in specific societies and have contexts in which to be read.
All Scripture is inspired and teaches truth. The truth in the story of Mattathias, the catalyst to the Maccabean revolt, is that he sees evil and sin and cuts it off. He acts quickly and swiftly.
This is what our Blessed Mother did every day. Like any other person, Mary would have faced temptations to fall. Yet by God’s grace, she never did. She cut sin completely out of her life.
Especially in the Confessional when someone confesses habitual sin, I try to guide people to consider what leads up to sin. The battle is usually won or lost, not at the moment of temptation, but in falling into near occasions of sin. It is in this moment we must strive to make decisions to cut sin out of our life.
May we be like Mattathias in his zeal to root out evil. Mary ever sinless, pray for us.