Sunday, March 15, 2020
What is justification? (Sunday homily)
(This is the homily I was going to give this weekend, but events led to a change of course. I might as well post it. Oh, and why three pictures? Why not?)
The second reading mentions “justification” –
we don’t talk about this often,
so you might wonder just what that is.
From the Council of Trent and the Catechism we learn that
"Justification is not only the remission of sins,
but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.”
In other words, justification not only forgives us, but changes us.
The life of God is poured into our hearts and our lives.
In a word, we become saints. This happens in baptism.
Baptism! Ah, now you know why we heard the first reading
and the Gospel, all about water.
Of course, Jesus wasn’t just talking about ordinary water,
but the water of the Holy Spirit.
And you and I “drink” this water first in baptism.
And as I said, in baptism we are justified; we become saints.
Sadly, you and I squander this inheritance through sin,
but God in his incredible goodness gives us a way to renew it,
and that is the sacrament of confession.
All the sacraments are about thirsting for this water God gives.
There’s a kind of paradox at work here:
The Holy Spirit is the water of heaven that satisfies our thirst,
and yet, in another way, he makes us want even more!
Saint Augustine said that the justification of sinners
“is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth,"
because "heaven and earth will pass away
but the salvation and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away."
Two weeks ago I told you that Lent is about baptism,
and here we see it again.
Yet nearly all of us have already been baptized;
So for us, Lent is for reawakening that thirst for God,
For finding our way back to the well where Jesus waits for us,
Where he says, I have water no one else can give you.
There are so many things we get busy with,
but really only one thing matters: sitting at the well, and saying to Him:
Lord, give me this water always!
I’m going to stop right here. Let’s sit down and let Jesus talk to us.