The Epistle of today’s Mass reminds us of the centrality of Christ to our faith. That is a most obvious statement but, I suggest, one of which we need reminding regularly.
The reality is that we live in the dispensation of grace not in the dispensation of the Mosaic Law. This new dispensation only exists because of Christ and his sacrifice on the Cross, which is re-presented to us at this Holy Mass.
In the Gospel we must take notice of Christ’s displeasure at the ingratitude of the nine lepers who did not return to offer their thanks and homage. Christ had bestowed on them a great physical, social and spiritual benefit in their healing.
He has done the same to us at our baptism. He does the same to us through all the sacraments.
We have to admit that at times we are like the nine lepers. We forget, overlook or ignore our constant task of giving thanks. It is our duty and our salvation, as the words of the Preface of the Mass always says, to give God thanks always and everywhere.
What is it that hinders gratitude to God? I suggest two things – selfishness and egoism.
Selfishness is not just wanting to keep things to myself as we might see in a small child. It also means referring all your aims and goals solely to yourself.
A selfish person will only regard as good that which pleases him. If things occur in accordance with his wishes, he is proud and gives way to exaggerated delight; but if his hopes are frustrated, he gives way to excessive sadness, bad temper or even despair.
A selfish person aims only at the gratification of his own tastes. A selfish person complains of everything. A selfish person only wants to get what she wants. A selfish person is always wondering if he feels happy.
Egoism is an idolisation of self. An egoist knows nothing but his own tastes, which guide him in all his actions. He never rejoices at the prosperity of another, nor sympathises with his neighbour’s sorrows.
It happens frequently, that an egoist suffers misery, even on earth, and has no temporal comfort. She strives to gratify desires, and at the moment when she seems to have succeeded they prove worthless.
We ought to try with all our might to rid ourselves more and more of all self-seeking. This then ought to be our aim —to keep in view the one thing for which we live and move and are, namely, God’s holy will.
St Mary MacKillop wrote that for her the will of God was a dear book which she never tired of reading.
All that we do or avoid, all our joys and sorrows, must harmonize with His will, which we ought to see in all things, so that it becomes the guide of our actions, the reward of our exertions, encouragement to suffer, and hope of our consolation..
In this way we shall always be at peace with God. Conformity with His will is, according to Thomas a Kempis, the weapon with which we can overcome selfishness.
He does not mean the sort of resignation which, in a defiant though discouraged manner, submits to God’s will without cooperating with it, and lets itself be borne along, like an empty boat by the waves. He does not mean that false resignation, which manifests itself only in words, and resents the slightest opposition to one’s own will.
He refers to the Christian submission that asks at every step: “What does God wish me to do?” and when His will is known, works zealously and untiringly in union with it, enduring whatever comes day by day, however painful it may be, with uncomplaining patience.
Perhaps the most beautiful petition in the “Our Father” is, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If we really meant this prayer, we could not fail to decrease selfishness and egoism in us.
But it is not enough to express a desire in words —we must show our good resolution in all our actions and in our whole behaviour, and then it will be God’s will for us to be happy forever in heaven.
May God’s holy will be done!
Ideas sourced from Traditional Catholic Teaching traditionalcatholicteaching.com