THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
28 April 2019
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The Sunday Sermon Archive
Today's Gospel provides us with some very important considerations. The Apostles and their successors have been given the power of God to forgive sins. They have been sent as God's ambassadors throughout the world. In the Name of God they open and close the gates of Heaven. Whose sins the priests forgives God forgives. Whose sins they retain God retains. As God the Father has sent His Son as God among men, so Jesus as Man sends men into this world. It is not the priest who has chosen God, but it is rather God who has chosen the priest.
While worldly men seek and glory in having authority over others, priests should fear and tremble. St. John Chrysostom tells us that even if the priest orders his life well, it counts for nothing if he fails in his obligations to those placed in his care. The priest must render an account not only of his own soul but also of the souls placed in his care. Having the care of souls is a fearful matter because men are all different and range from one extreme to the other as well as every degree in-between. The priest must be ready to be harsh toward those who need harshness to heal their souls, but he must be gentle toward those who need gentleness to be healed. He must be stern with some and compassionate with others. This truly requires divine insight because it is beyond the normal capacities of mortals. This is why we see that when sending the Apostles and giving them the power of binding and loosening, He breathed upon them and gave them the Holy Ghost.
To be faithful and true to the Holy Ghost is likewise a delicate balance that requires diligence and perseverance. Therefore, we all have been given the obligation to pray for our priest and bishop. They do much more for us than we often ever think of. Mortal men wielding the authority of God is something to be respected and feared. The spiritual writers tell us that a priest can stray in the guidance of a soul and will have to give an account of this to God, however, the soul that faithfully obeys and follows the guidance of her priest (even when he errs) never makes a mistake. Charitable, holy obedience is always pleasing and meritorious before God. Just as we learned in the Catechism that children must obey their parents in all things except sin, likewise in the spiritual realm every Catholic must obey his priest (spiritual father) in all spiritual things except sin.
Fathers do not enjoy punishing their children, but they must do so because they love their children. The children can make this distasteful burden easier if they will humbly and charitably embrace their corrections knowing that these come forth from the hands of a loving father who truly desires what is best for them. His punishments may be overly strict at times or overly lax at others, he is human and subject to this fault, because he cannot know everything. We as children and subjects can make our lives better as well as aid our superiors to be better superiors, simply by being humble and obedient regardless of whether we believe the superiors' judgment is right or wrong, too harsh or too lenient.
We also see "doubting Thomas" in today's Gospel. Through his doubting, we are strengthened in our belief. We find confirmation of the faith. It may have been that the others were blinded by being too eager to believe, but St. Thomas proves without any doubt that there is a real and solid foundation for the faith of those who had only seen because he saw and felt the very wounds of Christ. His doubting makes it easier for us to believe and increases our merit because we can now believe without seeing.
We carry this belief into all that Jesus has said and done. We believe that the priest truly forgives us our sins when he grants us absolution in the sacrament of Holy Penance. Not because we can see and hear Jesus directly, but because of true faith. We believe and adore Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, not because we can see Him there with the eyes of our bodies. We believe in the True Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion because He has said: "This is My Body... This is My Blood."
St. Thomas has verified and confirmed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The truth of all that Jesus has said and done is confirmed and verified by His Resurrection. St. Paul tells us that if Jesus had not risen from the dead our faith would be in vain. We know our faith is not in vain because Jesus has risen from the dead. We know that Jesus has truly risen from the dead because St. Thomas had doubted and verified the Resurrection for us. His fault has become our blessing. God has taken evil and turned it into an even greater good just as the evil of His Crucifixion became the source of our greatest blessings.
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