Blessed Louis-Zéphirin Moreau

HOMILY WEEK 07 05 – Year II

Faith, Healing and Intimacy:

Optional Memorial of Blessed Louis-Zéphirin Moreau

(James 5:9-12; Ps 103; Mk 10:1-12)


A Sunday school teacher said to her children, “We have been learning how powerful kings and queens were in Bible times. But there is a higher power. Can anybody tell me what it is?” A small hand shot up immediately and the owner blurted out, “Aces!”

Two clear distinct realities in the readings today come together in the end – our image of a loving God, and Christian marriage.

Sometimes in recovery circles, one hears things like “I only learned of a loving God when I joined the program” or “I was raised to fear God.” There are many rather negative images of God in many peoples’ minds. Some may even be reacting to a God they were taught wrongly about.

Psalm 103, taken from the Old Testament often blamed for a harsh image of God, is a gem in terms of our image of God, certainly setting the stage for the God revealed by Jesus Christ.

We are told in this psalm God forgives our iniquity, heals our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, and crowns us with steadfast love. It goes on to describe God as merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Above all, God is very forgiving, not holding onto any anger over us, and actually removes our transgressions as far as the east is from west. In a few passages, both in the Old and New Testament, God even tells us God will deal with our iniquity and not even remember our sins! And if God forgets our sins, they no longer exist. Now that is forgiveness.

This forms the basis for the two-fold mission of Jesus as the Messiah: to redeem and to sanctify; to forgive and to heal. We need to come to him for forgiveness of our sins, but even more important, come to him for healing of our sinfulness, that which makes us sin – our painful emotions like anger and bitterness, our defects of character or negative attitudes like false pride, stubborn self-righteousness, superiority, tendency to judge, and our addictions, both chemical and process.

The ultimate revelation of God, of course, is what Jesus accomplished on the cross. The moment of his death, the huge curtain in the temple was ripped from top to bottom. That curtain was there to keep people out of the Holy of Holies, which only the high priest could enter once a year after purifying himself. There is no separation now between us and God – on the cross we can see right into the heart of Jesus, and what we see is a God who is humble, merciful, compassionate, forgiving, unconditional love, totally non-violent and dynamic, intimate relationship or perichoresis, a divine dance.

In today’s Gospel, God as Trinity, intimate relationship comes to the fore. We hear of the challenge of achieving intimacy Jesus gives to married couples, a challenge that will keep a marriage strong. The challenge is to become one, to have no secrets, to trust each other and forgive each other everything.

In John 14, Jesus goes so far as to say that when a couple achieve that kind of intimacy, he and the Father will come and make their home in them, and Jesus will reveal himself to them. The best way a couple will therefore experience the Trinity, is to achieve intimacy, and they will experience God in their relationship. This is truly incarnational theology.

One lady attending a Marriage Encounter Deeper Training weekend in Toronto answered the question, “How do I feel when I achieve intimacy with my spouse?” with words like, “There is no separation, barriers or walls between us.” It struck me she was experiencing salvation through her intimate relationship with her husband.

Two movements in the Church today are doing their best to build up marriages and avoid the tragedy of divorce. Marriage Encounter seeks to make good marriages better, and Retrovaille helps couples on the verge of breaking up save their marriages. I am fortunate to be involved as a team bishop/priest for Marriage Encounter and would encourage any married couple to attend as a way to enrich their marriage and come closer to living the ideal Jesus presents to us.

Today the church honours blessed Louis-Zépherin Moreau, who was born in Bécancour, Quebec, in 1824. The fifth of 13 children, he was educated in the seminary but was initially rejected for the priesthood because of his frail health. His desire was strong, however, and his persistence resulted in his ordination in 1846. He soon became secretary for the diocese of Montreal, and later for the newly founded diocese of St-Hyacinthe, where he was named bishop in 1875. Popularly known as the “good Bishop Moreau,” he had compassion for the poor workers of his diocese, helping to establish the forerunners of today’s mutual societies and credit unions. He also oversaw the foundation of several religious communities. In spite of his poor health, Louis-Zépherin worked tirelessly and died in St-Hyacinthe in 1901. He was beatified in 1987.

The Eucharist that we celebrate now is an intimate moment with our God, who forgives and heals us even as we celebrate.

So, let us come to Jesus for forgiveness and healing, and strive to achieve intimacy in our lives with our loved ones.

Updated: May 24, 2024 — 3:26 am

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