Sunday, December 1, 2013

"Lust ... a Symptom of a Deeper Problem"

Readings for the 1st Sunday in Advent:

1st Sunday of Advent 2013

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
December 1, 2013

There is a story about some ship wrecked man who aimlessly drifting in a life boat across a vast ocean. As the days passed under the scorching sun, their food and fresh water rations gradually gave out. They became deliriously thirsty, and so one night while the others were fast asleep, one man ignored the stern warnings he had been given and gulp down some seawater. He died soon afterwards. It is a fact that ocean water contains seven times more salt than the human body can safely ingest when a person drinks it, he or she dehydrates quickly because the kidneys demand extra water to flush out the excess salt. The more salt water someone drinks, the thirstier he becomes. He can actually die of thirst.

Lust becomes like a desperate thirst. It is this thirst for something we want but cannot have. It is like the man in our story who desired to have a drink of water but could not drink the salt water that they were drifting in. Lust can be a thirst that destroys the relationships that we cherish. Many lives are ruined by lust, and technology is only making the problem worse. The catechism calls lust a "disordered desire for, or and inordinate enjoyment of, sexual pleasure." #2351 of the Catechism.

The church is not saying that sexual pleasure or desire in itself is sin. For it is a gift from God. The problem is when sexual desire becomes an end in of itself, when it becomes detached from marriage and the gift of human life.

In the second reading, St. Paul uses a familiar image in describing sin and grace. He urges the Christians in Rome to cast off darkness and put on light. Like the sun in the sky, Jesus Christ dispelled the darkness of the world. He continues to dispel darkness and remains in the souls of his faithful ones. Sin is darkness. It is the shadow of Satan. And if we are honest, we will admit that there is a darkness in our lives. At baptism, we received the light of Christ. Our soul is filled with God's life and love. But baptism is only the beginning of a lifelong journey. A Christian needs to keep living in the light, and throwing out the darkness of error and sin. Paul lists six sins of darkness; they being orgies, drunkenness, promiscuity, lust, rivalry, and jealousy. Half of those sins are sins of the flesh, they are sins of lust.

Whether you think it is as a "desperate thirst for pleasure" or an "expression of darkness." Lust is a serious sin with serious consequences. Our society is darkened by the shadow of lust. We see it expressed in so many ways. From the proliferation of pornographic websites, to explicit sex education offered in our schools, to disgusting nudist magazines, and the parade of erotic behavior; lust is all around us. Lust is a symptom of a deeper problem: the desire for affection, attention, love, and acceptance. Do you experience love and acceptance in your relationship? Is lust a problem for you? Fornication, prostitution, self abuse, and sexual assault are some of the fruit of the poisons of lust. Are you guilty of any of these sins?

The Scripture contains many stories of lust and its affect. After the original sin, Adam and Eve covered themselves, and struggled with their desires. The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah felt the wrath of God for their sins of the flesh. David lusted for Bathsheba, and had a child out of wedlock. Dina the daughter whom Leah bore to Jacob, was sexually assaulted and death followed. Two old men lusted after Susanna in the book of Daniel, and suffered the consequences. The woman caught in adultery narrowly escaped the death penalty. St. John, in revelation, compared Babylon to the great harlot. The Bible condemns the sin of lust, that's because it is so harmful to us spiritually, emotionally, and sexually.

If lust is a desperate thirst for dark spot in life, then the answer is clear we need to fill up our life with Christ. We need to dispel darkness with the light of the Savior. The readings we just heard are proclaimed on the first Sunday of Advent. Advent coincides with the natural rhythm of the season. The days are growing shorter and the nights are growing longer, until Christmas, when the days start to go longer again. This natural phenomenon is a symbol of what we should do with their lives, which is to let the light of Christ fill us and drive out darkness

How do we overcome the sin of lust?

We need to recognize that it is a serious problem; if you don't recognize the problem, you will never solve it.

An old seminary professor puts this way: "If something is a near occasion of sin, don't think about it. That only leaves us to wanting. If something is a near location of sin, don't go near it. In other words, stay away from magazines, television programs, or internet sites that lead us to sin. Finally, if something is a near location of sin, don't touch it. In other words, don't touch a dial or switch that lead you to sin."

Third, we need to make a frequent confession. The grace of confession strengthens us in our battle against the sins of the flesh. Finally, we need to fast. Fasting is a lost discipline. Few Catholics fast outside of Lent. However we are expected to do some form of penance every Friday of the year. We can choose other forms of penance outside of Lent, but we are supposed to do something. Perhaps, we can offer our Friday abstinence from meat, desserts, or television. Whatever we offer should be in reparation for the sins against the flesh, for these are time tested tools in our struggle with sin.

Advent is not just a time to fill empty Christmas stockings, but to fill empty hearts of the power of God's love. We need to dispel the darkness of sin with the light of the Savior. As we enter the Advent season, and await the Lord's return in glory, let us strive to live honorably, casting off the darkness of lust, and rejoicing in the gift of human sexuality. May this holy season be a time of grace and renewal for each of us. Mary, Virgin most Pure, Pray for us. Amen.

As I finished this homily on Friday, this week, I question if this should really be homily for weekend Masses. And yet the content is so important in our day that I finally decided that if I didn't have the courage to share with you the Truth, I shouldn't be up here preaching to you at all. So I would encourage you to reflect on what I shared with you today, while at the same time encourage your little ones to persevere in purity and chastity.

So you all be Good, be Holy, preached the Gospel always and if necessary use words!

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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