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WOF Radio > Sermons > Sermon Archive for 2012 > Sermon 608 : The Dilemma of the Law : 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
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'Let this healthy tension of the law remain in you. Don't try to resolve it. Out of that tension comes the real power of the spiritual life'
Thank you Fr. Barron.

I've done fault finding when I'm in my 'spiritual best' & then ashamed when I find myself in the same situation.

Pope John Paul II in 'veritatis splendor' -
Once again it is Saint Augustine who admirably sums up this Pauline dialectic of law and grace:

"The law was given that grace might be sought; and grace was given, that the law might be fulfilled"

(just read it yesterday, what a coincidence)
8/29/2012 11:49:09 PM
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Robert Little
Two analogies about the healthy tension:

We should not ignore the complexity of the law but instead seek what Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. called "the simplicity on the other side of complexity."

An actor friend, trying to avoid overly mannerized portrayals told me about having rehe*****d too much. He said you should be prepared enough to put your preparation aside.
8/30/2012 12:45:18 PM
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22nd Sunday
A catch-22 situation?
8/30/2012 8:50:32 PM
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Paul Mugerwa
I look at the law as the painted lines that divide the lanes on the free-way. It is supposed to be a free way (no or less traffic signals), but staying in one's lane increases his or her safety while on the free way. Those line markings make us drive better.
8/31/2012 3:55:31 PM
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What a powerful, and deceptive excuse fussing with The Law can become! If we have not perfected The Law within, we may avoid The Eucharist, the Grace promised, the Perfect Law of Jesus Christ, our reparation.
People have left the Church,the Church a people of toddlers, walking tall, now falling; climbing back up, tripping. The internalizing of imperfection, or externalizing in excuses to avoid scandal, hypocracy. Walking away becomes easy, avoiding the tension you so wisely speak of. If evil can take advantage of The Law, the denial of Jesus' Victory, it will. God Speed!
9/1/2012 12:09:56 PM
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vito benigno
Peace be with you Father Barron!Although God has given us HIS Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes,His natural law is inscribed in our hearts.As human beings we know when we have fallen immediately.Be doers of the word and not hearers only. JESUS tells us the things that come out from within are what defile us.Where are heart is also our treasure.Thank you Father for the brilliant golf analogy.St.Giles Abbot Ora Pro Nobis!
9/1/2012 11:17:02 PM
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Anthony Bamber
The tension between the law and grace is mirrored in the tension between the body and the spirit. The lesser can be used to lead one either towards or away-from the greater.
God bless Fr Barron
9/2/2012 1:24:53 AM
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Tom M.
"liberal" catholicism, "American" Catholicism often minimizes the Mosaic law. However, you so clearly
state that we must let the laws of Moses become second nature to us and allow Christ to then pour out His grace on us. So enjoy your rich homilies!
9/2/2012 10:30:40 AM
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"From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,adultery,greed,malice,deceit,licentiousness,envy,blasphemy,arrogance,folly. All these evils come from within and they defile. We will never gain, we will never obtain, we will never know personal holiness until we rid ourselves of all the sins that come from within.
God Bless
9/2/2012 10:59:54 AM
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"...and if I should know all mysteries, and all knowledge: and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing."

I was reminded of this popular chapter 13 in 1 Corinthians when listening to Father's homily with the golf-swing analogy.

I started golfing in my late 20's and was never as good as many of the guys I ended up playing with. A couple of them went on to be professional golfers. But I loved that game.....religiously! I carried the bag for one of the guys the week he qualified for his pro card. Helped him read the greens and did the usual work of a caddy for him. It was great and I may have been almost as happy as he was to see him get that card!

And though I learned a lot from the guys who knew and better perfected the "laws" than I could, it was more fun for me to see how much they loved the game, too. In that way, I could match them on and off the course.

So an awful lot of good things came to us, but without that love for the game — including all of the rules, and the laws, as well as the beauty, and the joy, and the camaraderie of the game, ("this healthy tension" between the law and grace) playing golf really and truly could merely have been what Twain is attributed to having
called "a good walk spoiled"!

Without charity, first for God and then also for our neighbor, without that true, unadulterated love of the game..... it wouldn't really have meant anything at all.

That chapter continues on to define what that love looks like, how it shows itself to be truly within us, and while reading through the whole of that description of what charity truly is, it's not surprising the words are so well-known — "faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity."

"Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself" was how our Lord summed it up once. And St. Paul, who knew well enough both the extremes of the law and the extremes of grace — and every state in between I would imagine — came to know that without that kind of love, that charity, we are nothing.
9/2/2012 1:24:49 PM
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Deacon Dave
I like an analogy of driving a vehicle. The rules of driving keep us in our proper lane, keep us save. However, an inordinate concern for steering can leave us continually oversteering, overcorrecting our progress and the tension can become our main focus...rather than an internalized practice which leads us to simply "drive the car." The boundary lines of the road - and of the laws - keep us safe and focused on loving God and our neighbor.
9/2/2012 2:34:59 PM
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vito benigno
Tom M,
Our lORD JESUS himself tells us he did not come to abolish the law.But with out the Grace from JESUS the Christ humanity can do nothing.It is only through the Divine Mercy of JESUS CHRIST our LORD that we have our being and even exist.Nothing good comes from humanity but the only good comes from above through JESUS the logos.our very unalienable rights are under attack in this country. these rights do not come from gov with a small g or obama but GOD HIMSELF.i suggest that it is time to stand in solidarity against this administrationl and pray for the healing of this nation.President Lincoln stated "take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began so that the truth and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land.MI IMMACULATA
9/2/2012 7:11:50 PM
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Frank Uroda
"Don't fuss with the details of the moral law." Clarify: lying, stealing, adultery.
St. Paul was pointing up the difference between Faith and the practices of the Law to converts, especially Jewish ones.
I liked your analogies,i.e., golf. For me, law has always to do with justice. My homiletics professor continually reminded us: "Don't stress prepositions," ordinarily. You do once in a while. Small thing. You're doing great work; don't quit.
9/2/2012 7:52:53 PM
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I used to be a dancer and these same principles apply to this sport. Of course, this healthy tension would collapse when I found myself off-balance.

I can really feel this tension between law and grace because when I sway too much in the wrong direction I can feel almost uncomfortable or uneasy. This also applies to my observance of others that tend to sway too much in the wrong direction.

I do not use my knowledge of the law or my faith to undermine others though. I try my best to guide and show by example to let the law assist me in achieving a comfortable balance to enable me to run toward grace with zeal.

I am not always literally running to attain grace. Often - one is required to lead others to it gradually. Nevertheless, my heart always seems to be running toward it with leaps and bounds. So what you see on the outside isn't always what is on the inside.

Inside their exists a steady progress to maintain the proper balance of tension.
9/3/2012 3:37:33 PM
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Have you ever watched The Golf Fix? The host is so fast, that I find myself asking "How am I going to remember all of that?"

What if the laws are subjective and unfair? The tension you are talking about reminded me of an exercise where the Pastor gave Council Members five minutes to answer two questions in a group of about five ministry leaders. We were suppose to hear from everyone on both topics, within the five minutes. The Pastor came by and noticed that I was still on the beginning of question two after three minutes, and he said "You better hurry up. You are going too slow." I felt paralyzed for the rest of the exercise. That night, I really wished I had told the Padre to back off. I wanted to give each elderly person their moment to share. The content of what they were sharing was important.

I used to be so involved with our Parish, teaching, and on Pastoral council, but I backed way off and I only lector now, because of fear related to the previous Pastor, and unhealthy remaining tension in the Leadership in the Parish. Despite the fact that the new Pastor has only shown kindness to me, I really have no desire to become more involved. This is surprising to myself. As a former Director who was active and involved in so much, the ongoing lull, and very limited involvement, with no spiritual writing, and no desire to increase involvement, is definately atypical for me. Maybe it has to do with the one way communication often associated with parish life. For me, it's so much more fun and exciting to work in a team building way, where interpersonal communication is open and free, and not always stressed, limited, and going in one direction.
9/5/2012 4:10:50 PM
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Paul Mugerwa
Brother Tom M,
you need to read Matthew chapter 5 and meditate about it. Jesus did not abolish the law but fulfilled it. Also read about the transfugiration (mat. 17:1-13), featuring three important figures in there; Moses, Elijah and Jesus. Transfugiration means a glimpse into the glory of Christ. Where Moses symbolizes the law, and Elijah symbolizes all the prophecies and Jesus as the consumation of both the law and the prophecies. Another related chapter, Mat.19:16-26, about a young rich man. He had kept all the law perfectly, but Jesus found his faith still inadquate.

The idea here is not to get rid of the law but to keep the law out of love for God. It has much to do with the act of our free will. Also bear in mind that the Jewish people had something like 635 precepts to obey. How on earth was that possible!! Many of them were dietary, hygienic circumcision and so on, but were later done away with by the Apostles who themselves were Jews. God's law is not like the laws of men which we keep just to stay out of trouble. Rather God's law is engraved into our minds so that we love Him with all our hearts, soul, and strength.

We need to understand that faith is a gift from God and that it is not something we can earn on our own. Jesus clearly states that nobody can come to him unless the Father draws him. Jesus also says that without Him, we can do nothing. These all means that we need God's grace in order to know Him and to do His will. The word grace means, participation into the nature of God - thus holiness. In other words "unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,we shall never see the kingdom of heaven," Mat.5:20 (paraphrasing).
9/6/2012 5:15:56 PM
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