Reparation for the world’s sins

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Beloved in Christ, in the Book of Genesis, we read of how the descendants of Noah multiplied and became very wicked. Their sins darkened their heart, and so they fell into idolatry. They built this Tower of Babel: They said, ‘Come, let us build a tower, that the top of it would reach up even to heaven.’ In their arrogance and pride, they believed they could build a tower to heaven, to challenge God.
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Friends in Christ, the world shakes it’s fist at God. The world makes it’s laws, thinking that man’s laws can supersede God’s laws. This is pride. We see the same attitude in the first reading. God sends Ezekiel his prophet, saying: ‘I am sending you to the Israelites, they are rebels who have rebelled against me.’ The world is in rebellion against God. Open rebellion.
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I’ve heard a lot from people of faith lately: ‘Father, I’m angry at the Supreme Court,’ ‘I’m upset about how the world is going and what is being taught to my kids.’
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We all know that our nation has plenty of failings, but what is perhaps most painful, is to think that we are now a nation that stands for sin, legalizing evil in complete contradiction to Christian religion. I’d like to speak today about the response that we might have to all of this insanity.
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One response might be that we must work to elect different public officials who will defend marriage and innocent life and decency – and who will put God-fearing decent people on the Supreme Court. And we certainly should be part of such an effort.
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But this would not be the highest sort of response for us. What is needed most, that we can and must do is: we must make Reparation.
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We don’t speak much these days about Reparation.[i] To ‘Repair,’ is to restore something to good condition again. When a house is falling apart, it has to be repaired. In the moral realm, the repair of a sin or evil is done by Reparation, meaning an oblation of one’s self. Moral order is restored by some penalty being inflicted on the wrong-doer or else it is self-imposed.
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When Tommy, in anger throws a rock at Mr. Smith’s window, the boy must pay to replace it. Reparation. But if he can’t pay, his older brother may step in and say ‘I’ll pay it for him.’ Or it could be that Tommy is unrepentant and refuses to pay; in which case, to repair the damage, his older brother still might pay it for him, to repair the damage.
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This is the case with our world. Those who are stomping on the moral law and shaking their fist at God are not repentant. Evil is being done. But the moral order is being badly disrupted. Someone has to do reparation.
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Now our Protestant friends may not understand this; they may say, ‘Jesus paid the price for all sins.’
Jesus Christ has come to this earth for one purpose: To make Reparation. To repair what has been ruined through sin, and restore our relationship to God. From the moment he was shivering in that stable, ridiculed in his life, crucified, and still mocked and wounded every day of human history – Christ has been expiating the sins against God, manifested continually in the Mass.
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The Catholic Church teaches that the person of Christ who walked the earth and is now in heaven, does not constitute the whole Christ. The whole Christ consists of himself plus ourselves, his mystical body. And so he wishes to make each of us another Christ, and that means that we must do what he does; we must participate in the expiation of sins, and in the redemption of the world.
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At the offertory of Mass, a drop of water is placed in the chalice with the wine. If the wine represents Christ, then the drop of water is us. The wine alone would be adequate for the consecration, but the Church insists that the drop of water be placed there also. In the end, the water, mixed with wine, becomes Divine Blood. So our offerings – ourselves – we become one with Christ’s offering.
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St. Paul offered his sufferings; he says to us: ‘I rejoice in what I am suffering, I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in the sufferings of Christ.’ What could be lacking in Christ’s sufferings? Our part. Ourselves.
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Jesus Christ expects his followers to take up the cross, and participate in his work of Redemption; for this reason, when St. John Vianney saw all the sins of his parish, he immediately began Reparation: fasting, eating only boiled potatoes, sleeping on the floor, scourging himself.
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St. Rose of Lima was determined to offer her life in reparation for sin and the corruption of her society. So, she inflicted penances on herself; while yet a child, she fasted 3 days a week on bread and water. She ate bitter herbs and during Lent she existed on five lemon seeds a day. Ready to offer any pain, one time when her mother put a beautiful garland of flowers on her head, she unknowingly stuck it to Rose’s head with a pin so deep, that there was great trouble that night prying it out of Rose’s head. She said nothing.
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Friends, we must become true Christians who offer ourselves in sacrifice to God – in reparation for the sins of our world. Jesus wants us to become great, like him. And so we must become a victim. ‘I beseech you brethren,’ says St. Paul, ‘that you offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and pleasing unto God.’ (Rom 12:1)
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How can we Christians who know all this – how can we waltz through life on easy street while the world destroys itself morally? We have to make reparation, it’s our vocation.
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What are the sacrifices that we are to offer? The best way, is the ‘little way;’ St. Teresa tells us. We can make reparation in a hundred little ways, for our sins and those of the world. Choose a food that is not our first choice; don’t turn on the air, take water instead of soda, or giving up the nap. Little things.
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St. Josemaria says that spiritual sacrifices are even better: ‘the mean word that you left unsaid, the bad joke you didn’t tell; the cheerful smile for those who bother you, silence when unjustly accused; your kind conversation with those who are boring.’ (The Way, #173)
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‘But a life of sacrifice takes all the fun out of life,’ you say. Not at all. Haven’t we noticed that those who live a life of indulgence are often empty and discontent? Far from ‘taking the fun out of life,’ sacrifices give us joy. It is true. Because in so doing, we are helping Jesus repair the wrongs of this world.
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When Mary appeared at Fatima, she asked: ‘Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear the sufferings He sends, as reparation for sinners?’
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Let us answer Mary’s challenge. Let us be other Christ’s, and answer the evil of the world with reparation;

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[Entrusted to the prayers of Blessed Bartolo Longo]

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[i] See article ‘Reparation is Fundamental Obligation of Christianity, Raoul Plus, 1921.

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