As Bishop James P. Powers began his homily on Friday, Oct. 27, at the Diocese of Superior’s 61st Annual Fall Conference, he noted the energy and excitement of those gathered.
Reflecting on the readings for Mass – Romans 7: 18-25a, Psalm 119 and Luke 12: 54-59 – he addressed the congregation, “I’m guessing that if we were asked, we’d say we know right from wrong and how we should act … I would also guess also that if we were honest – and we are in church – that we would have to say that we could relate to St. Paul’s words, ‘for I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.’”
He continued with the assertion, “Whether we like it or not, sin is real, evil is alive and well in the world and our lives. We can know what is right and still fail to do it.”
The bishop reflected on how St. Paul’s recognition that he was incapable of winning the battle in his own heart and mind “sheds light on our fallen human condition, the fight between good and evil inside us.”
He also acknowledged that it helps us to admit sometimes we give up the war without a fight and other times, even though we make a sincere fighting effort, we’re simply not strong enough to win the battle on our own.
“The good news is that we don’t have to,” Bishop Powers said. “Jesus calls us to put our faith and trust in him,” in the one who has won the battle to set captives free.
“All we have to do is ask and open our hearts and minds to him,” he encouraged. “By conforming our lives to obedience to his commandments, we share his victory. How freeing it is to rely on Christ to deliver us through his eternal sacrifice and the help he gives us in the Holy Spirit and through the grace of the sacraments. We shouldn’t try to fight the fight alone. Our advocate, our God is here with us, is here for us.”
In the proclaimed Gospel, Jesus speaks to the crowds about their hypocrisy: “You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” Commenting on this, Bishop Powers noted how Jesus’ words come only five chapters before he enters Jerusalem where his body will be broken on the cross, “Broken for you and me. He wants us to read the signs and settle the matter. Jesus has delivered us, but we need to accept that gift.
“We gather together, each of us as we are. A little bit saint, and a little bit sinner – each striving to be that saint that God created us to be.”
The bishop concluded with the invitation to “rest in the sanctuary of our God” and to “ask our God’s help to prepare our hearts and minds to receive that great gift of the Eucharist.
“As we receive it, may our hearts overflow with thanksgiving and praise to God who, though we fall time and time again, gives us the strength to get up one more time and continue our journey to holiness … My prayer is that we know, we feel that blessing and we take a moment to thank him for all he has done for us, all that he does for us.”
Bishop James P. Powers preaches the homily to educators and catechists for the Diocese of Superior’s annual Fall Conference at St. Joseph’s Church in Rice Lake. (Catholic Herald photo)
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