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Guard our thoughts and follow Christ to holiness

Read bio Fr. Joseph Eddy27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 2, 2011
Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M.

See video homily
Gospel: Matt. 21:33-43 “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Full homily text: Growing up, one of the greatest joys was to go to the local fast food place. I can remember being so excited as a child to go to McDonald’s, Burger King, or one of the other places. It was so different from home where I would have to drink my milk and eat those vegetables. This was “fun” food that was just for enjoyment.

Blessed Virgin Mary of MercyFr. Joseph Eddy is the vocation director of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, founded to redeem Christians whose faith is in danger. The Order’s student house in the U.S. is in Philadelphia.

Is God calling you to become a Mercedarian friar? Visit Fr. Joseph’s Facebook page, or the website of the .

Now, I am beginning to notice that some of our favorite fast food places have been changing over the past few years. The menus are offering much more variety. Yes, the traditional “Big Mac” or “Whopper” is still available. But, now, we have healthier options: fresh fruit, yogurt, salads, and smoothies. It’s hard to believe that these changes are happening to restaurants that have been so successful at selling “fun” food to hungry Americans.

Making good moral choices

The old adage is that “you are what you eat.” So we shouldn’t be so surprised that our fast greasy food has made us fat and unhealthy. There is a crisis particularly with young Americans who are becoming more and more obese. Truly, it is only responsible for our schools, local organizations, and even fast food restaurants to educate people about the effects of fattening foods on our health. Children are being taught to avoid those foods that are unhealthy and make healthier choices. Fast food restaurants are making healthy options available to everyone. But, no one can force another to make good choices. We have a free will. If a person wants to be fat, and feels that this is OK, then they will inevitably become large and have the health consequences that come with the condition of obesity. All society can do is teach our children to make good choices and offer those options.

The same is true of our moral lives. Our morality and the state of our soul is determined by the choices that we make. What we take in with our senses (touch, sight, and hearing) will go a long ways to determining the choices that we make. If we listen to, look at, and experience virtuous behavior, we will be more likely to become virtuous. But, if what we listen to, look at, and experience each day is sinful it will wear away at our resolve and eventually turn us into a person in bondage to sin.

Watch your senses

Each person has the choice each day to determine what they take in through their senses. It may seem harmless to watch a program that displays values contrary to Christianity. After all, it is on prime time TV and there are only a few questionable parts. But unfortunately, it slowly becomes part of us. The images we see, things we hear, and values that are presented become the thoughts that run through our heads each day.

Thoughts in themselves are neither good nor bad morally. Each of us has thousands of thoughts each day some are positive, some negative, and some in-between. Yet, if we chose to act on the negative thoughts or accept them as true they can become harmful. It is reasonable to believe that what comes through our senses the most will become our thoughts and then eventually become our actions. Once we have begun to act in any way for a period of time it becomes a habit. So, really we become what we watch, hear, and experience the most.

Guard our thoughts

St. Paul tells the Philippians to keep guard over their thoughts. They are to think about what is “pure…gracious…worthy of praise.” This is the way that St Paul tells them they can obtain the peace that Christ desires for them. Another word for all of this is to avoid the near occasions of sin. As Catholics we can’t just blindly go through life accepting all that comes from our secular culture. Our culture is no longer Christian — it is secular. Some things that come from the culture through TV, internet, radio…. etc. are very praiseworthy and good, yet other things are not. We need to use prudence in viewing things on TV or the internet that present values that are not in conformity with Christ’s teaching. These things would not fall under St Paul’s criteria of “pure…gracious…worthy of praise.”

We cannot avoid all questionable things on TV or other forms of media, but we must develop sensitivity to what we are putting in our minds. Each person is different and some may be more sensitive than others. We must know ourselves and our weakness. As Jesus says in Gospel, “if your eye causes you to sin cut it off.” Not that we harm ourselves, but we avoid whatever may be harmful to our salvation. For what we take in with our senses becomes our thoughts, our thoughts become our actions, and our actions become our habits. The smart person knows himself or herself and makes sure that their thoughts are focused on positive things that bring life and emphasizes Gospel values.

Sin more deadly

So as Americans, we are beginning to recognize the importance of putting the right foods in our body. Children are being taught to make good choices and more healthy options are available. In the same way, we would be smart to look at what we take in through our senses and how it effects the development of bad habits within us. The effect of sin in our lives is even more deadly than obesity. A prudent discernment of the culture can preserve our purity of thoughts and prevent sin from enslaving us. For, Christ came to set us free and lead us to holiness through our thoughts. He wants to enable us to live for him totally in this life and the life to come.

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