Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost: The Immaculate Heart Of Mary
In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius 12th put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior's Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is not a new devotion. In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart; in the nineteenth century, Pius the 7th and Pius the 9th allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pius 12th instituted today's feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession, in his words, "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue"
Peace among nations: May Christians Pray for Peace?
I ask this question because some Christians feel that prayer for peace in these "last days" would be contrary to God's will, since Jesus said, "When you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, fear ye not. For such things must needs be, but the end is not yet." (Mark 13:7). If war "must take place," how can you pray for peace without opposing God?
Our prayers should be guided by what is morally right for men to do, not by what God, in his sovereign providence, may will to take place. Rarely, if ever, should we pray for moral evil to take place, but God may will that moral evil prevail for a season. For example:
- 1) God willed that Christ be crucified. Many of the necessary acts involved in crucifying Christ were morally evil. Therefore, God willed that this moral evil prevail for a season (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).
- 2) God willed that Joseph's brothers sell him into slavery in Egypt, even though this was evil for them to do (Genesis 50:20).
- 3) And God ordains the sinful ravages of the end times (Revelation 17:17).
In other words, God ordains and predicts that moral evil prevail for certain seasons, but this does not mean we should pray for moral evil to happen. We should pray according to the way God has commanded us to live - in righteousness and love. We should pray that God's will be done on earth the way it's done in heaven by the perfectly holy angels (Matthew 6:10), not the way it's done on earth through the agency of sinful men.
Freedom For The Church
In fact, Paul teaches us to pray for peace among nations for the sake of the gospel. The crucial text relating to prayer and peace is 1 Timothy 2:1-4. “I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings, and for all that are in high positions of authority: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Notice the link between praying for all men. Specifically national leaders,
The preservation of peace and order,
The "desire for all to be saved." and to come to the knowledge of Truth.
There is a connection between national leadership, peace, and evangelism and missions. It is true that the church may grow in times of hostilities and war. But it is also true that wars have devastated the church in many areas. It is not our business to decide the sovereign purpose of God in ordaining that some wars happen. Our business is to pray that justice, peace, and freedom for the Church to proclaim the gospel prevail.
Ten Reasons Why Christians Should Share the Gospel
1. We have been commanded to do so.
We have been commanded to preach the gospel to all creation. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). We need no other reason.
2. Hell exists.
Jesus said, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5). If Hell didn’t exist, we would have a legitimate excuse for passivity. But we have God’s Word (and reason) to tell us what awaits guilty sinners. How cold hearted would we be to not warn of its reality!
3. We strive to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.
A firefighter rescuing people from a burning building may be fearful and prefer to be home with his family, but he ignores his fears and denies himself. Like him, our thoughts are not on ourselves but on the fate of the perishing. “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 22,23).
4. Obedience is evidence of salvation.
The Bible says that Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him (see Hebrews 5:9). We are not saved by our obedience; we are obedient because we are saved. Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
5. To remain in silence is a sin.
As soon as the Holy Spirit was given, the apostles began to preach the gospel. God had granted everlasting life to dying humanity! They could not stay in the Upper Room because God’s love provoked them to reach out to the lost. “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
6. Evangelism deepens our walk with God.
Nothing teaches a fisherman like fishing. Interacting with the lost results in greater confidence and faith in God. “…hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus” (Philemon 5–6).
7. It causes us to search the Scriptures and to learn our faith.
Wanting to know how to answer every man will send us to God’s Word and to our catechism “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
8. It deepens our gratitude for the cross.
As we continually preach the cross, it will deepen our understanding of what God did for us in Christ. We will find ourselves practicing what we preach, so we will be frequently thinking about the cross. “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
9. It deepens our prayer life.
Our fears and sense of inadequacy will also drive us to our knees—the safest place for a Christian.
We reveal our love for the lost by pondering their fate, and as a result we cannot help but cry out to God for them. “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).
Our fears and sense of inadequacy will also drive us to our knees—the safest place for a Christian. “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
10. We have been commanded to imitate Paul.
Paul showed his love for God and for sinners by his obedience to the Great Commission. “I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:33—11:1).
Love of Purity
Purity is important. But seeking purity in this world seems like you are swimming against the tide of popular opinion. So, even if you could achieve it, is purity something you can maintain in this life?
Yes, purity is possible. Here are some key elements to consider in your fight for purity.Get a New Heart
We are not pure people by nature. And not only do we have impure actions: our impure actions proceed from our impure hearts. When our first parents Adam and Eve sinned against God’s command, they brought evil and death into the world. Since then, we have all inherited their sinful, rebellious hearts, which taint all our actions. Once you clean the inside, then you can clean the outside.
Striving for pure behavior without a pure heart is like cleaning only the outside of a dirty dish: the inside is where the mess is! Once you clean the inside, then you can clean the outside.
You need a heart change, and this is God’s work through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Essential purity is possible only by admitting your rebellion against God’s will and seeking forgiveness by faith in Christ, and following Him newness of life through baptism.Love What God Loves
Indeed, this is the heart of the matter: having a heart that fears and loves God and wants to do the things that bring Him glory. Far from having a rebellious heart that dishonors the one true God, Christians want to please Him and bring no reproach upon His name through their conduct. This is the heart of the matter: having a heart that fears and loves God.
How do you know what pleases God? The ancient psalmist said it this way, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” (Psalm 119:9). By meditating upon His Word, you can know what God loves and what God hates. Keeping God’s word means that you know it, think about it, and obey it.
By drawing near to God through His Son Jesus and in obedience to His Word, you humble yourself and walk in the strength of the Holy Spirit. You are not strong, wise, or godly enough to pursue purity on your own. Pure living follows purity of heart, and this is only possible with God’s help.Control Yourself
Self-control helps your progress toward purity. Once you have exchanged your rebellious heart for a heart that desires to honor God, you still must guard your heart to cultivate virtue. Wise King Solomon warned his son, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). In other words, apply maximum effort to attain and maintain your innocence.
By orienting your life toward purity, you should no longer feed impure desires. Abstain from tempting influences, which might involve breaking off relationships, getting rid of unhealthy material, changing jobs, and more. Set limits on your behavior and have an escape plan to avoid indulging in what you know is wrong.
Your wants determine what you say and do, so examine what you desire. Do you love what God loves and hate what God hates? Do you wish for purity throughout your life? Then apply maximum effort to attain and maintain your innocence. This endeavor is not something to be taken lightly or carelessly. Strive toward what is pure and good and flee from what is not.Be Accountable
Just as you need God’s power in your life, you also need a supportive community around you to help you toward purity. Being alone—whether on a device, late at night, or other tempting situations—can easily lead to making poor choices. When you know someone is watching, you tend to make better decisions.
Share your commitment to purity with those you trust so you can benefit from their help. King Solomon says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up” (Ecclesiastes 7:9–10).
Realize the benefits others can provide. When you are on your device, be visible, remove secrecy, and avoid isolation by using accountability software to share device usage with an accountability partner. These reports can inspire helpful conversations about your choices and spur you toward the good.
Striving for purity is worth the effort. You will never be perfect in this life, but you can grow. You can find joy in the fight for purity through little and big victories.
You are not where you could be. You have not arrived. Measure yourself against Christ and see how far you have yet to go to be like Him. As you labor toward pure living, you confirm the work God is doing in your life to make you more like His Son. Persevere in these things and keep moving toward purity.
The Practice of Virtue
So virtue, really, speaks to the quality of our character, to spiritual excellence, moral excellence, morally good people. A person of virtue is a quality person, a person who's good and generous and gracious, someone who is genuinely trying to be above reproach. That used to be something that was very common in our culture. I'm old enough to remember some of those days. You didn't have to be a Christian to be that way. It was just, kind of, part of our culture. We prided our self in the fact that we're Americans, and Americans are good people.
You know, you might say something to somebody about something, and you wouldn't know very much about that person, but the person, "No, no, he's a good guy. He's a good person," and what we meant by that was he's somebody you can trust, somebody who's not gonna try to cheat you, somebody who's gonna express the value of his own life. True virtue, though, for all of us as Christians, comes from our faith. "For this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue". When you become a Christian, virtue is part of the package. Virtue has its beginning when you trust God and placing your full weight on his worthiness.
Now let's talk about how that works. First of all, if there ever was anyone who walked on this Earth who was completely virtuous, it was only the Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and if you want to know about God you've got to know about Jesus and Mary, because Jesus and Mary is God's picture to the world, so if you want to know what virtue is you look at Jesus and Mary.
Make it your goal to always do those things that please the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which in turn are things that please the Lord Jesus Christ, and also are things that please the Father. The secret to Jesus's virtue was his focus on pleasing his Father. Now, here is an interesting thing that I discovered when I was writing this project. It's not just a one-way street. When you please someone, they end up being pleased with you. You end up being pleased with them. It's a two-way street and on two different occasions, at two different phases of Jesus earthly life, God the Father spoke out of heaven concerning his Son to say to everybody who would listen, "I'm pleased with you". It happened twice.
You will not forget this because these are two important events. It happened at the beginning of Jesus's ministry when he was baptized. This is recorded for us in Matthew chapter 3, and Jesus was being baptized, and the Bible says, "And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" This passage of Scripture is a tremendous illustration of the Trinity. God the Son is in the water of the baptismal. God the Spirit comes down in the form of a dove. Where is God the Father? He's in heaven, and he's saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased". God the Father in heaven, God the Holy Spirit coming down as a dove, and Jesus Christ being baptized. That's God Almighty, the three-in-one, the Trinity.
Now, not only did he say this to his Son at the beginning of his ministry, but at the middle of his ministry he did it again. "Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as a light. And, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" Peter was there when this happened. He saw it all and in 2 Peter 1:17 he mentions it.
Let me just read this verse to you. "For he received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to him from the Excellent Glory, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" Peter mentions it in 2 Peter because it was such an impressive thing. So, the moral quality of Christ is this, this is how he was virtuous: he always aimed to please God, and God was pleased with him. Our moral quality is shown when we aim to please God, as well. Just as Christ was pleasing to God, the Bible teaches Christ followers we are to make it our goal to please God, as well. And how do we please God? By living a virtuous life, a life of moral quality.
So in the words of Pius the 12th let us also pray and ask for intercession on this feast day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue"