Chocolate and Roses

"Before man are life and death, good and evil": (((Homily))) 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday February 16, 2020

It's estimated that men spent 11.4 Billion dollars this past Valentine's Day on gifts for their significant other. That's a lot of expensive chocolates and flowers! When we break it down, each man on average doled out a whopping $153.65. As commercially laden this holiday has become, the heart of this spending is actually stunningly biblical. Genesis 1:26 reveals that each person is created in God's "image and likeness." Stamped within every human being is is the God-given gift of free will which makes love possible. Love is always a choice; it can never be forced.

That is why men spend billions of dollars -- to woo the heart of the beloved. God is no different. Faced with our free will, He now must entice humanity to freely choose Him. How? We need only look at Jesus crucified. He could have easily saved us through a paper cut on his thumb but instead allowed himself to tortured in the cruelest of ways. Jesus dying on the cross is God's spectacularly wild take of expensive chocolates and flowers.


The Pastor's Prayer Journal

Pastor’s Prayer Journal

Thank you to all who came to my presentation last week on the Bible. For the size of our parish, we had a great turn out. Between Portola and Loyalton we had over eighty people in attendance. There was quite a few new faces as well. The goal of my talk was to help share the power of our story. We live in the most prosperous, most technologically advanced, freest civilization that has ever existed. Our nation is not perfect by any means, but we are all beneficiaries of a tremendous republic with seemingly limitless potential. All of this is not by accident; it’s by design. It all rests on the dignity and free-will of each human person as revealed to us through the Book of Genesis: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (See Genesis 1:27) That sounds obvious to us now but before this, not everyone had equal value. And part of this God-given worth is our ability to choose freely, rooted in God’s own free-will that he shares with us. We are not mindless puppets. In the first reading, God begs us to use this gift wisely: “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” (See Sirach 15:15). By freely choosing to follow his commandments, we choose to enter into a loving relationship with him. It’s not forced.

The deepest thirsts we have that makes life worth anything, I argue, can only be satisfied through relationships, not the accumulation of more stuff, power, honor, pleasure or the other myriad of counterfeits we spend so much of our time and energy on.  Ultimately, it is love that we desire and it is love that we seek.  This desire for perfect and infinitely love can never be satisfied, however, through mere human relationships.  We will always be left wanting, when we try to quench our desire for perfect love from imperfect human beings.  Only in God, whose very nature is love (See 1 John 4:8)  can we finally find what we are groping for.  The great 4th century priest and bishop, St. Augustine, put it magnificently in his book The Confessions, ““You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

The supreme saboteur of our quest for love, both in our human relationships and our fundamental relationship with God, will always be pride. Pride is what caused the Devil and his legion of angels to fall.  Pride is what took down Adam and Eve.  Pride is the destroyer of marriages and families.  Pride kills the holy vocation of priests and nuns worldwide. Pride, that seething and steamrolling vice that exists within all of us, elevates ones own ego above everything and everyone else—even God.