The following is by Father Valentine Young, OFM, a faithful Catholic priest who died on 17 January 2020. It was delivered sometime between 2013 and 2020. To learn more about Father Valentine, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
18th Sunday after Pentecost
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—(1962 Missal) Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
ODAY’S GOSPEL incident is one of my favorites because it quite obviously shows that Jesus knew He was divine. Now I hate to talk nonsense in a homily, but the truth of the matter was—and in some cases still is—that some ‘modern’ Catholics say: “Oh, Jesus is divine, but He didn’t know it, and He only gradually became aware of it.” Now I don’t know if I should just call this kind of talk ‘gobbledygook’ or try to refute it. Already in the early Church there was the heresy of Arianism, promoted by a priest named Arius. This heresy denied the Divinity of Christ. Unfortunately much of the Catholic world fell for this false teaching. Saint Athanasius (d. 373) bravely fought against this until finally this heresy was laid to rest.
Today’s Gospel: The incident in today’s Gospel is a rather convincing demonstration that Jesus was aware of the fact that He was divine. And surprisingly enough, He even had the backing (although it was not intended) of His enemies. Being God—or just being a good psychologist—He knew what His enemies, the Pharisees, were thinking. They were thinking, and rightly so: “Only God can forgive sin.” Truer words were never spoken. Sin is an offense against God. Therefore, only God can forgive sin. To preclude any objections that some might bring up about priests, the only reason why priests can forgive sins is because God gave that power to certain men when they receive a certain Sacrament which we know as the “Sacrament of Holy Orders.”
Jesus & Sin: So Jesus, being God, knew He had the power to take away sin. For this reason, He told the poor paralyzed man: “Your sins are forgiven you.” Jesus knew what the reaction of the Pharisees was going to be. Jesus also knew that eventually it would be the fact of His claiming to be divine that would cost Him His life.
Modern ideas: For the life of me, I have always wondered where some of the moderns have come up with their modern new ideas, like the one I mentioned about “Jesus being God, but he did not know it.” I’m not here to bring up all the crazy ideas I’ve heard in the last fifty years. Believe it or not, they even have new ideas and theories about my own beloved Saint Francis, ideas we never heard before the Second Vatican Council. We are told these ideas are the fruits of “great modern scholarship.” If you ask me, I think a lot of it is pretty ‘fruity.’ I just heard a few weeks ago that Saint Francis did not really receive the Stigmata. Those marks on his hands, feet, and side were supposedly caused by his contracting leprosy. (Earlier in life, Saint Francis had worked with people afflicted with that disease.) It took almost eight hundred years for the great scholars to discover that theory—and wasn’t it strange that the leprosy affected only five certain parts of his body?
Forgiving sin: Jesus had the power to forgive sin because He was God—and He knew He had the power to do so. Because of that power, He was able to work many other miracles. The INTROIT for today asks God to give peace “to those who patiently await Thee.” One of the greatest gifts that Christ gave us is that Sacrament of Penance (“Confession”) in which we are assured of God’s forgiveness in the event that we failed and did something wrong. Hearing those words of absolution, Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis (“I absolve you from your sins”) has brought a peace of mind to many people down through the ages which no money, no psychiatrist, and no counselor can provide. If people don’t use it, they are only cheating and depriving themselves.
The Introit: The Introit verse for today is the same that is used in votive Masses offered for peace. It reads: “Give peace, O Lord to them who patiently wait for Thee; hear the prayers of your people and deliver us.” I know that many faithful Catholics have been praying hard for the present difficulties in the Church to come to an end soon. It will happen, but only God knows when. In the meanwhile, let us do what God puts in front of us. Let us be thankful for all that God is giving us right here and now. Let me end by repeating the wise advice of Saint Teresa of Calcutta: “God doesn’t expect us to be successful, but he does expect us to be faithful.” +