This is my sermon for the Mass of the Fourth Sunday of Advent (extraordinary form) based on the epistle 1Cor. 4:1-5. Please note that a sermon is quite a bit more didactic in style than a homily.
"Nihil enim mihi conscius sum; sed non in hoc justificatus sum: qui autem judicat me, Dominus est." 1 Cor. 4:4
These days people invoke conscience for every immorality claiming to be "following my conscience," or "free to choose" or "free choice." Saint Paul says he is not guided by human judgment and that he has nothing on his conscience but...that that in itself is not enough: "...I am not conscious to myself of anything: yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judgeth me is the Lord." What matters is how God sees me. One's conscience might be in error, even in grave error. Each person has an obligation therefore (to prepare to receive Christ to the [your] world) to examine himself, not on the opinions of men, nor simply on one's own opinions, but before God Himself: before the Truth, reviewing the ten commandments and the precepts of the Church because "every man is prone to evil, having countless corrupt propensities, since he tends downwards and is carried with ardent precipitancy to anger, hatred, pride, ambition, and almost every kind of evil." (Roman Catechism, 530) Scripture convicts every man: "All alike have gone astray; they have become perverse; there is not one who does good, not even one." (Ps. 52:4)
It's time for Advent confessions. Those who do not honestly examine themselves before God end up distorting morality by calling bad good and good bad. Isaiah condemns this perverse judgment "Woe to you that call evil good and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness..." (Is. 5:20)
There are two types of perverse judgment (as opposed to rash judgment which is false being too quick, perverse judgment is false after deliberation): one type is judging a good man to be evil. But the other type of perverse judgment is much worse; in it the judgment of things themselves is perverted, for instance, claiming virginity to be evil or fornication to be good. (Aquinas, In 1 Cor, 194) We must measure goodness according to the "One Who alone is good," the Lord, not according to our own opinions.
Every man has a grave obligation to ensure that he properly form his conscience, therefore, and not let himself be deceived. And pastors of souls, parents, governors of people, teachers, doctors, lawyers, counsellors, etc., anyone in authority must teach people (those under their care) what is right and what is wrong, or else they are perverting judgment by their negligence to guide. It is not just a matter of religion, it is a matter of basic humanity.
That is why, every time I have a sweet sixteen ceremony I require all the teenagers involved to go over the examination of conscience (on the ten commandments, detailing all the major sins under each commandment) and go through the confessional: Catholic, non-Catholic Christian, Jew, atheist--they all need to know right from wrong and admit it, in order to live. The ten commandments are for everyone. Explaining it that way no one objects. It makes sense. They are the God given guidelines for all humanity, THE guidelines for true humanity. Last time (a couple of weeks ago), as I read the question under the sixth commandment "Have I used any method of contraception or artificial birth control" a girl raised her had and respectfully and innocently asked (the youth are great, their innocence makes them so transparent), obviously repeating the perverse mantra she has so often heard in the context of procreation "Isn't it just a choice?" I patiently and briefly explained the meaning of carnal love and how unity and openness to procreation are two inherent and inseparable aspects of the acts proper to marriage, and that the Bible itself condemns contraception right in Genesis 38:8, the sin of Onan: Onanism. And I though to myself, "yes, it is a choice, a bad choice, based on a perverse judgment." That is what sin is, a wrong choice. We need to know the difference between right and wrong, lest we be wrong! We need to know the difference ourselves and to teach others, in order to receive Jesus Christ as He deserves, in goodness, and that people might know Him and love Him thereby, in freedom.
At Christmas, the Light came into the world, Christ our Lord, to show us Himself, to show us God, His Goodness, His Truth for all men of every time and place; because His goodness is the only ultimate Good and His Truth is all truth, excluding all error. Those who would be rid of the darkness and confusion of life must receive, celebrate and worship Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father: God from God, Light from Light, true God from True God. He alone is God in the flesh, the manifest, definitive and immutable meaning of man: the eternal Word.
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