26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saint Margaret Parish, Bel Air
September 28, 2014 9:30 and 11:00am
Today’s readings lead me to remember something from when I was about six-years-old.
One day, two of my neighborhood friends – Jack and Steve – and I were playing in Jack’s yard. It was a summer afternoon and one of the things we did was to play some kind of simple card game.
Well, the afternoon wore on, Steve went home, Jack was called inside his house and I got on my bike to ride home. But, before I did, I put Jack’s deck of cards in my pocket and took them.
Sure enough, my mother quickly noticed the cards and asked me where I got them. As you can guess, I got lecture about not taking things that belong to somebody else.
Then my mother told me to get on my bike and take the cards right back to Jack. I did that and was really lucky.
No one was in Jack’s yard and I was able to put the cards back where they were without being seen. But I still felt ashamed and really learned a lesson.
The Scripture readings today talk about doing what is right or wrong.
This past week I got thinking about all of this and decided to make two recommendations for us today – about being aware of ourselves and our behavior.
My first recommendation is to take an inventory of our lives sometime this week.
I want us to ask ourselves this question: what are the sinful areas or dark sides or growth edges or imperfections in me? Frankly, I don’t think the word or what we call this is so important.
The important thing is to look at ourselves and develop a list of our stuff. My bet is that each of us will be able to name about five things – at least I know that I can do that for myself!
So do this inventory. To help with this, think about the Ten Commandments, but go beyond what we call sins of commission to sins of omission.
For example, one commandment calls husband and wife you to be faithful to each other. But also consider whether you are also making time to communicate well and to do things that are thoughtful and will enhance the relationship.
In this inventory, it is also important to think about the Beatitudes – Jesus calling us to be compassionate, humble and peacemaking. And definitely think about Jesus’ emphasis on caring for the poor and anyone who is suffering.
Again, the idea is to identify our sinful areas or dark sides or growth edges or imperfections. And by the way, develop just your own inventory – please don’t develop mine even though lots of you could probably do that!
Now with this inventory as a benchmark, my second recommendation is to do an examination of conscience each day.
This is simply a review of how I did today or yesterday, depending on the time of day we do this. So look at each area on your personal inventory and ask: how did I do on that yesterday?
Probably we’ll do okay in some areas and not okay in others. After we own up to where we faltered, then make an Act of Contrition, or what I like to call a Prayer of Resolve.
This is a prayer asking for God’s forgiveness and also for God’s strength to do better. You can pray a prayer that you know by heart or just speak to God in your own words.
By the way, my Sunday homilies are posted on the parish website. So in case it is a help to you, I am going to add a Prayer of Resolve or Act of Contrition prayer at the end of this homily on the parish website – all for the same low price – free!
The last thing I want to say this morning is that all of this is about our personal and spiritual growth.
I find this to be a very positive practice. The personal inventory and daily review or examination of conscience is not a negative downer but a positive way to keep growing in the Lord each day of our lives.
Act of Contrition/ Prayer of Resolve
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong
and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance,
to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ
suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.