Give Him your life

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Beloved in the Jesus Christ, in the 13th century, Angela of Foligno was a beautiful, wealthy, and vain lady. As a rich man’s wife she lived in luxury. Her passions were expensive clothes, flashy jewels, and extravagant meals. She dressed and acted in ways that provoked envy among women and lust among men. When she was not indulging herself, she spent hours gossiping with her friends.
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But then at one point she did something very bad and started to really have a fear of hell. It was suddenly clear, that she had not been living a real Catholic life. she desperately prayed and asked Gods help and mercy; she went to confession and resolved to begin a new life, and this would lead her on a saintly path; we now call her ‘Blessed Angela Foligno.
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Friends in Christ, not only Angela, but all of us can easily slip into living a lukewarm religion. Because we go through the motions of being Catholic, or say ‘I was brought up Catholic,’ our faith-life can become only a façade.
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In the gospel today, we are shown this striking contrast between the Jewish Scribes and this humble widow who puts her last pennies into the temple treasury. Our Lord is not pleased with those religious leaders, who were living a ‘fake’ religion; they were more concerned with outward appearances and what people thought of them.
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Jesus specifically points his disciples to see that poor woman, who is more generous than all the others; she is more generous because she does not donate to the temple funds out of her surplus, but out of her need. In other words, her heart was in the right place.
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So how could someone end up living a phony religion? Well, the devil does not attack us head-on: for example, he doesn’t try to trick us into becoming a Muslim or something – we wouldn’t do that; instead, he tries to hollow out our faith-life, until we are only doing some outward, religious things – like those Scribes; this way, we will think we are Catholics, but we really are not any more. And there are many people living sinful ways of life who will often say: ‘But I’m a good person!’
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Spiritual blindness can happen very easily, especially if ‘everybody else’ is doing it, or saying it. We always have to ask ourselves, ‘ok, I’m at Mass on Sundays, that’s good, right? But am I really receiving Jesus with love and faith in Holy Communion? Is it clear that I am a follower of Christ on days other than Sunday? On Monday, or Friday, am I known as a Christian, by my behavior?
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A good test for us, is to notice how we behave when we are pressured. What do I say when my peers at work or school criticize a moral teaching of the Church? Do I speak out? What do I say when a girlfriend or boy friend want to do something impure? Do I speak up and lead that person on the path to Christ? When I could get in trouble or be embarrassed, do I lie?
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You’ve probably heard it asked: if you were on trial, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian? Is there enough evidence that we belong to Jesus?
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There was a guy who generally tried to be a good man, he felt that he followed the Lord; he heard in a sermon that it’s good to sometimes ask others how they see you, to see if you are what you think you are. So, for the heck of it, he one day asked his daughter, ‘Sweetheart, what do you think is the most important thing to your father?’ Now he figured she would say that God is the most important, since he knew that God should be most important; but his daughter said, ‘’Daddy, most important thing for you is Bowling.’ He was crushed. Is that how it looked to her? Was his heart really more captivated by bowling than Jesus?
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Friends, we can easily delude ourselves into thinking that we are faithful Catholics, but we can be deceived; Christ Jesus might not really be the center of our life. St. James in his Epistle says, ‘If anyone thinks he is religious….’ ‘If anyone thinks he is religious – and then he goes on to explain, that one’s religion is in vain – – is worthless, unless we are living it. If we have an evil tongue, if we have no compassion or go along with the false morality of the world,’ he says, our religion is vain.
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There is a tendency for us to keep the Lord – to keep Our Faith – in a kind of convenient box, mostly for Sunday. I go to Mass, I pray at meals, I Confess once a year – there – that takes care of that. That’s the ‘religion-thing.’
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But even if we have given ¾ of our heart to Christ, we are not a Christian, because Jesus wants our life, our whole heart. Angela of Foligno tried to live as a supposed Catholic, but her life did not reflect the gospel, it was a shell of a religion. It took a serious sin to shake her out of her fog, and give her life back to Jesus. Christ says, ‘I wish that you were either hot or cold, but the lukewarm I vomit out of my mouth.’ At least if we are cold – that means, in serious sin – at least then, we might be shocked back into our senses, even for fear of hell. But coasting along in lukewarm Catholicism is not the way to get to heaven at all. Lukewarm Catholics will be sweating it out in the next life – I mean, REALLY sweating it out!
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Let us look back to that poor widow in the gospel today. She gives her last pennies to the temple fund; Jesus says, ‘she has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.’ I was curious about that phrase, ‘her whole livelihood,’ so I looked it up in the Greek – the gospels were written in Greek. That line from Christ is translated different ways. Some bibles say, she put in all she had to live on.’ Another says, ‘she gave her whole living.’ But the greek word is ‘bios’. The first definition of it is not ‘living’ or livelihood, but ‘life.’ So one could really translate this as: ‘she gave all she had, even her whole life.’ This is what we must do to be true Christians. We must give our whole life to Jesus Christ. Not withholding parts; not holding on to our favorite sins. If we want to be alive with his love, we must give our whole life to the Lord, even if we have to suffer for it.
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St. Peter says, if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
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May the Blessed Virgin pray for us; Mary, pray for us, that we will praise God by a true Christian life, and become worthy of the promises of Christ.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Bernadette]

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