Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Easter: Members of the flock of the Church "do not recognize the voice of strangers" but only that of Christ the true Shepherd

There are many voices in the world today. In addition to cell phones, email, Facebook, chat and Skype we have the internet, news outlets, presidents on one side and terrorist jihadists on the other, bloggers, TV demagogues and talk show hosts, self-help gurus and purveyors of popular spiritual books through public appearances; all these and more have joined the chorus of voices calling out for our very limited attention along with those of our family members, our communities and our bishops.

With our very great limitations as human beings how do we remain open to others in a way that would be pleasing to God, would be holy and in imitation of Jesus Christ our Lord, who exercised compassion for the many who sought him out for a sympathetic hearing, while also obeying Christ's command to refuse falsehood and error?

We must be willing to listen in love to those others who ask for our attention as an expression of love, except in cases where we would be participating in sins such as gossip about the faults of others or lies about others. These are called detraction and calumny, excluded by the laws of God and matters for sacramental confession. We must also avoid listening to any talk such as abusive and angry speech, denigration of the gift of the marital act through lustful speech, advocacy of gratuitous violence outside of legitimate needs for self-defense, or speech which takes the Lord's Holy Name in vain.

Priests, when hearing confessions for example, sometimes must ask the penitent to limit the description of any sins they are confessing to the briefest detail in order to avoid the near occasion of sin. And it is helpful to remind here that penitents are asked to name sins only by type, or species, and number.

For the full text of today's homily, please visit MCITL.


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