Summary: In the fight for the right to life from conception to natural death, our biggest weapon is prayer.

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Third Sunday after Epiphany EF

Third Sunday in Course 2013

The Time Always Right to Do What is Right

What does it mean to follow Jesus Christ? For the apostles, it meant abandoning their boats and nets, and literally following in His footsteps, all the way to Pentecost, all the way to their own deaths, preaching the Gospel throughout the world. For St. Paul, it meant loving both Jew and non-Jew, trying to live at peace with all men, even those who would throw him in prison several times and ultimately cut off his head. For the centurion of Capernaum, following Jesus meant humbly asking him to heal his young servant, while acknowledging his own unworthiness to have Jesus even enter his house. And his memorable words are repeated at every Mass, as we say almost in astonishment to the Lord Jesus whose risen Body and Blood are our food: Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but say only the Word and my soul shall be healed.

Now think of the first scenes in Genesis: Adam, Eve and God are establishing their covenant, the rules governing the beautiful garden God is gifting them. He tells them to love each other in every way, have lots of children, take care of the garden and eat of its fruit. The only “no” is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They must not sample its fruit, for it is death. God had only our good in mind. Only good; never evil. “You are made in my image and likeness; obey me and you will, in time, be like me.”

We don’t know how long after that the author of evil tempted them. But the serpent caused them to doubt God’s good intention. “Go ahead,” he said, “disobey. You’ll instantly be like God, knowing good and evil.” We don’t know exactly why Eve disobeyed, and led Adam into disobedience. Maybe the serpent looked really kind; maybe he looked really scary. But, unprotected by absent Adam, she did the deed, and then led him to do the same. They had told God that they preferred the short-cut to divinity, and learned the hard way that knowing evil means knowing pain and sin and death all during life, for themselves and their descendants. Interviewed years later by the New York Times, they said, “it seemed to be a good idea at the time, but now we know that it’s always a bad idea to do bad things, even if your intention is good.”

Let’s face it: whenever I have sinned, whenever you have sinned, we didn’t say to ourselves, “this idea is really evil. I want to do something bad. I want to get into trouble.” No. We see something we want to have, or to do, and it looks good to us. But to get to have it, or to do it, we have to say, or think, or do something that God says is bad for us. I want to be popular with my crowd, so I start using God’s name in vain like they do. I want to feel really good, so I engage in illicit sex or pornography or drugs. I want a new car, or video system, or computer, so I cheat on my taxes or pilfer company money. We never intend anything but a good result. I might even take the week’s grocery money and blow it on Lotto tickets, making a deal with God in prayer: God, if I win, I will put 10% in the collection basket. So we not only hurt the family, we ask God to cheat so we can be winners!

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