“The Law of Gradualness” - Homily for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2022
In our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom we hear that God rebukes offenders little by little.
Similarly, in the New Testament, Saint Paul tells the Corinthians “I could not address you as spiritual men, but as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it”
This is what is referred to in the Catholic Church as the “Law of Gradualness” – according to which people should be encouraged to grow closer to God and His plan for our lives in a step-by-step manner, rather than expecting a person to jump from an initial conversion to perfection in a single step.
St. John Paul 2nd taught that this “Law of Gradualness” is Catholic, but Gradualism of the Law, (which wrongly suggests that there are different degrees or forms of God’s law for different individuals and situations) is not Catholic
I have experienced the law of gradualness in my own life for a long time.
God has slowly, in His mercy and His infinite love for me, revealed to me things that I did years ago that are sins, even grave sins, so that I can confess them and seek His pardon in the Sacrament of Confession and thus be reconciled to God.
I used to take the Lord’s name in vain a lot…but I have confessed that sin when God revealed to me the gravity of that sin, and I have not taken the Lord’s name in vain since.
More recently, the Lord revealed to me the grave sin of gossip and calumny and slander, and so I have confessed those grave sins and have tried to move forward without committing those sins.
On the positive side as well, God has slowly revealed to me things that I can be doing to love God better, how to have a more radical care for the poor in my life, how I can lay down my life for my parishioners better, and like Zacchaeus in the Gospel today, I have realized that I too am able to give half of everything I take in to the poor.
God loves us more than we could ever imagine…and as we grow in love with God, he slowly, at our pace, is drawing us closer to Himself.
Let us thank God for the gentle ways, little by little, in which God is constantly drawing us closer to Himself.