Thursday, January 7, 2021
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily during a Mass at the archdiocesan Pastoral Center attended by cabinet and senior staff of St. Thomas University, Jan. 7, 2021.
“For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome.”
However, too often, we can think of our faith as a burden and not as a gift – a gift that gives joy and meaning to our lives.
On Sunday, we will celebrate Jesus’ baptism by John in the River Jordan. John’s baptism was not the baptism we receive as Christians – for, as Christians, we are baptized in the dying and the rising of Our Lord Jesus Christ. But Jesus’ baptism marked for him the beginning of his public ministry, his mission to save a fallen humanity; our baptisms make us sharers in that mission.
When we are baptized, we are asked to make a profession of faith – that profession of faith, based on the Apostles’ Creed, is our “yes” to God. The Church, and the Gospel, is not about a bunch of "noes" – but fundamentally about a great “yes.”
In baptism, we pledged that – despite whatever trials and tribulations we may face – we will walk through this life as a friend of God, as a friend of Jesus and in the company of his friends, that is his Catholic Church.
The content of that yes to God is expressed in 10 Commandments. And it is important that we understand that the Commandments are not just a pack of “burdensome” prohibitions. We shouldn’t think of the obligations we assume as Catholics in that way. The good news of Jesus Christ is not sour like vinegar; it is sweet as honey.
The Commandments are not burdensome. Yes, they require us to say "no" to many things — no to anger, no to lust, no to envy, no to selfishness. And because we are people whose will has been weakened and whose intellect has been darkened because of human fragility and sin, saying "no" can be difficult.
Vice enslaves, but virtue makes us free. The Commandments are a school of virtue; before they are a "no" they are a great "yes," a yes to life, to solidarity, to truth. The "no’s" make sense, they can be accepted and even embraced, if we understand the "yes."
Obeying the Commandments does not limit or restrict our freedom. Obeying the commandments makes true freedom possible. For freedom isn't license — we do not show that we are free by doing as we please but by doing what we ought.
The joy of the Gospel is found in that "yes" we have given to Jesus Christ. To be friends with Jesus is a great gift, knowing him is our greatest joy — a joy that we should not keep to ourselves but share with others. Again, the good news of Jesus Christ is not sour like vinegar; it is sweet as honey.