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Sunday:       Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Date:         March 6, 2011
Year:         A
The readings: [Deut. 10:12-13, 11:18, 26-28, 32; Rom. 1:16-17, 3:20-26, 28; Mt. 7:21-27]
The message:  Walk in God's ways.
Total words:  1300

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** The readings follow the sermon.

Walk in God's way. Yes, my brothers and sisters in Christ, walk in God's way is today's message. Those who walk in the way of the Lord, they shall receive His blessings. Those who oppose God's way, they shall endure His wrath. God's warning is as clear as black and white; there is no grey area.

Today's First Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy reminds us that today is the day to make a final decision. Today, you must decide if you will walk with God according to His Commandments or against God, contrary to His Commandments. This means that teachers must be living models of the Catholic faith, practicing what they preach. This means that Police Officers and Correctional Officers must uphold righteousness and not be the cause of corruption. This means that politicians must live their Catholic faith according to the Catholic teachings. They cannot separate their political life from their private life. In Christ, there is one life, one way and one truth. If one claims to be a Catholic politician, then he cannot support and vote in favour of abortion, divorce and same sex marriage. By doing so, he is saying that he will obey God in his private life but he will be a hypocrite in his public life as a politician, at which time he will go against God. Woe to the hypocrites, for there is no place for them in Heaven!

During the Second Reading, we heard Saint Paul say that he is not ashamed of the Gospel. Equally, we as Catholics should not be ashamed of the Gospel. We should not be ashamed to stand up and be counted among those who practice what God has commanded.

Those who are not ashamed of the Gospel, God Himself justifies. He justifies those who have faith in Jesus, this justification by faith being apart from works. This does not oppose the words found in the Letter of James where it states "faith without works is dead." [Jas. 2:26] It clarifies it!

The one who is saved by faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he is impelled to do good works. Doing good works is natural to him. It is not the good works that saved him. The good works are the fruit of his having been justified through Christ. For that reason, we read in the Letter of James "You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith." [Jas. 2:18] If one is justified, the two are present, faith and good works. They cannot be separated because God's justification produces good works within the saved person who has faith in Christ. For that reason, it can be said that "a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." [Jas. 2:24] Justification produces a fruit (of good works) that is absolutely necessary to be saved. If one claims to be saved and he does not display any good works, he cannot be saved. For the fruit of good works in lacking in the person!

The initial description of the Gospel in the Book of Romans makes it clear that the Gospel is not just a message, or a philosohy, or a system of thought to be learned. It is the "story of the cross." [1 or. 1:18]

There are two degrees of faith. It could be said that there is the beginning of faith where one simply believes that he can be saved by Jesus Christ, the Saviour. Then there is a more perfect faith where one grows in the understanding, knowledge and wisdom of God that is manifested through the Catholic Church and its Sacraments.

From the aforementioned, it is clear that man's condition without the gospel is one that calls forth God's wrath. Paul's warning was not just for the Jews and the Greeks. At the time of his preaching, he was primarily thinking of the two historic groups of humanity, the Jews and the Greeks. Yet his absolute formulation also connotes the ideal of "all individuals."

The Christian dispensation is wholly due to the merciful and gratuitous benevolence of God Himself. It is not gained by something within each individual, but is due only to God's benevolent favor. God's mercy and free gift of justification that leads to salvation is undeserved by all, for we are all sinners.

During today's Gospel Reading, we heard Jesus say, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?'"

"Only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That is a very powerful statement! There are 30,000 different religions that claim to be the one that has the way to salvation. Yet, there is only One God, one Church, one Body of Christ, one Truth, one Spirit and one Way. Accordingly, there can only be one religion that is the truth and the way, that does the will of the Heavenly Father. There can be only one religion that was instituted by Jesus Christ Himself, one religion that has implemented the Sacraments according to the instructions of the Lord Jesus. There can be only one Church that was commissioned by God to represent Him on earth by the power of the Keyes of the Kingdom of God. Otherwise, the words of Jesus shall echo, "Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you: go away from me, you evildoers.'"

Division is not the fruit of the Holy Spirit; it is the fruit of pride! Those who abandon the faith in order to start their own religion, are they saved? Will they enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Not according to Jesus! Devout invocation of Jesus as Lord and the reception of the charismata of the apostolate do not guarantee that one is a genuine disciple. Paul clearly says that these gifts are vain without love. [1 Cor. 13:2]

The test of the Father is "doing what I tell you." Jesus prayed to the Heavenly Father for Church unity. "Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one." [Jn. 17:11] The words of Jesus are a call and a challenge to action; they are not mere teaching. Understanding them is an insufficient response. The challenge is serious; failure to meet it is followed by catastrophe. "Great is the fall!"

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"Moses spoke to the people and said: 'So now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being."

"You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead."

"See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known."

"You must diligently observe all the statutes and ordinances that I am setting before you today." [Deut. 10:12-13, 11:18, 26-28, 32]

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Second Reading...

"I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, 'The one who is righteous will live by faith.' For 'no human being will be justified in God's sight' by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin."

"But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe."

"For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that God himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus"

"For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law." [Rom. 1:16-17, 3:20-26, 28]

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Gospel Reading...

"Jesus went up the mountain with his disciples. He sat down and began to teach them: 'Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?" Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you: go away from me, you evildoers.'"

'Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, becasue it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell - and great was its fall!'" [Mt. 7:21-27]

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