The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ - Fr. Joe Austin
November 26th, 2023 - 8:30 AM
It’s easy to recognize when we do something wrong.
Conscience is good enough about making us aware whether or not we should do what it is we are about to do.
Sins of passion or sins of malice are, more often than not, easy to recognize.
Our anger that we have in traffic or at work can readily be seen as being misguided, or maybe just out of proportion.
Our dislike of someone leading us to use up too much headspace thinking up a witty comeback to an imagined nasty remark can be recognized as hurting ourselves more than anybody.
Sins of passion and sins of malice are usually easy to identify.
And then there are sins of ignorance.
Sins of ignorance aren’t quite as easy to identify, by nature. If they can be identified, it’s after the fact of being committed, when we come to understand that our previous thoughts and actions didn’t align with the transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty.
The Christian message can be seen as the movement toward the transcendentals in one’s life, recognizing that, to come to know what is true and good and beautiful, is to come to know the Person of Jesus Christ.
We hold that to live an authentic Christian life is to live a divinely-willed human life — that the Christian message of the radical love of a Savior God who went to his death for love of us is an example for all of us to follow. The Church teaches us about carrying our own crosses in life with the same eyes of the intellect as our Savior, with the same eyes of the soul looking toward the great truth, and goodness, and beauty that we are moving toward, in hope. The Church teaches us to imitate our Savior, whose spiritual eyes were fixed on the redemption of humanity and doing the Father’s will, while enduring scourging, and mockery, and death.
We have this invitation in today’s Gospel, the invitation to the call to holiness, a call that is universal, as the Church tells us. All are called to union with God, all are called to live an authentic Christian life, to live as our Lord lived at all times — our Lord who was concerned with others even as he underwent his passion.
To be considered one of the sheep as we hear in today’s Gospel is to be someone who has concern for others — to be concerned with the well-being of others, indicated by performing corporal works of mercy.
Today’s Gospel does not warn us about sins of commission — that is, the sins that we actively perform, sins that can be easy to identify whether they derive from passion or malice or ignorance after-the-fact — but rather, we are warned today about sins of omission — sins that occur through our lack of action, through our choice of doing nothing when we could have made a difference and brought the transcendentals into the lives of others in a more explicit manner. “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome.” Those identified with the goats are confused by these words, unaware of having committed any sin — but our Lord isn’t speaking to sins of commission, but to sins of omission, to sins that occur when we choose to do nothing. He tells us this, saying, “What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” A warning against sins of omission.
Today’s Gospel teaches us that our good deeds lead to the Person of Jesus Christ, that they are works that not only bring one into loving contact with another human being, but they are works that also bring one into contact with the Son of God who is the source and achievement of the transcendentals, the One who brings all things to fulfillment and unites creation to the Father in the act of the outpouring of Himself for the life of the world.