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IT IS NOT THE VIRTUE, BUT THE MOTIVE FOR VIRTUE, WHICH GOD REWARDS

IT IS NOT THE VIRTUE, BUT THE MOTIVE FOR VIRTUE, WHICH GOD REWARDS

Commentary onĀ Matthew 5:43-48

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour, and shall hate your enemy.'” And so forth.

But I say to you: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Many people, measuring the precepts of God by their own weakness rather than by the strength of his Saints, think it is impossible to perform what they command. They say it is enough if the virtuous do not hate their enemies. To love them is to command more than human nature can bear. We ought to realise that Christ did not command impossible things, although he did command perfect things: David did it to Saul and Absalom; Stephen the Martyr prayed for his enemies who stoned him; Paul wished to be anathema for the sake of his persecutors. This, too, Jesus taught and did when he said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven. If observing the commandments of God makes man a son of God, then is man a son of God not from his nature but from his will. “Therefore when you do an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may be honoured by men.” The man giving an alms and sounding a trumpet is a hypocrite. He who fasts that he may disfigure his face, and that its emaciation may show the emptiness of his stomach – he, too, is a hypocrite. So, too, is he a hypocrite who prays in the synagogues and on the corners of streets, for the sole purpose of being seen by men.

The danger of vain-glory

From all this we may conclude that hypocrites do what they do that they may be glorified by men. It seems to me that, he, too, is a hypocrite who says to his brother, “Let me cast the speck out of your eye,” for he does this through vain-glory, that he may seem just. Wherefore, the Lord says to him: “Hypocrite, first cast out the beam from your own eye.” It is not the act of virtue, but the motive for virtue, which has the reward from God. And if you swerve even but a little from the straight way, it matters not whether you stray to the right or to the left, since you have lost the true way.

– From: St Jerome, Book 1, Commentary on Matthew, Ch. 5-6

(see also: Examination of Conscience, Spiritual Direction, Confession)

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“SOME THINGS NEVER DIE – AND THE TRUTHS OF OUR FAITH IS ONE OF THEM”

SOME THINGS NEVER DIE.

A HOMILY ABOUT THE GOSPEL READING JOHN 20:1-9 BY FR FRANCIS

DEATH COULD NOT CRUSH CHRIST’S LOVE FOR US

A man of 60 had gone back to visit his home town. One of the places he looked forward to seeing was the primary school he attended more than 50 years ago. While driving to the site, he planned his stroll down memory lane. He would start by finding his first classroom, where at age five he had begun school, and then work his way through the other classes.

But this sentimental journey never took place. He discovered that his old school building was no longer there. It had been demolished and a new one had been built in its place. It made him think about the transient nature of life – how nothing ever stays the same. Communities change. Buildings are here today and gone tomorrow. People live and die. Even nations rise and fall.

Then he remembered how in that school house he had learned the multiplication tables. 2 x 2 = 4; 3 x 3 = 9; 4 x 4 = 16 and all of the rest. He had learned those when he was only a boy. But 50 years later, they were still true. Five-thousand years into the future, they would still be true. So the old school building was gone, but at least part of what he had learned there remained. Time cannot erode them and death cannot erase them. This means that in some ways we live in an eternal world right now. Generations will come and go but in every one of them, 2 x 2 will always equal 4. That simple little formula, which we all learned as children, belongs to a realm where death has no authority.

In a sense, that is the essence of our Easter faith. We are saying that Jesus lived the kind of life that transcended the power of death. His adversaries could kill him, which indeed they did, but they could not stop him. As Peter said in his sermon at the house of Cornelius: “They killed him, hanging him on a tree, only to have God raise him up on the third day.” Our Gospel reading says, “Jesus had to rise from the dead.” It was imperative and inevitable. He belonged to that eternal realm where death has no authority. Some things never die.

To think of death this way provides the only reasonable starting point for believing in immortality at all. If nothing in this world lasted, why should we think that anything in the next world will? But that is not a true picture of life here and now. Many of us have said a final earthly farewell to our fathers and mothers but the love they gave to us did not die with them. It is still a vital part of our lives. The love that we felt for them is not in the grave. We love them just as much today as we did when they were alive.

Love has an eternal quality. That is what we mean by our Easter celebration. We are not saying that death makes transient lives immortal. We are saying that what is eternal IS ETERNAL and for that, there is no death. This building, in which we are worshipping today, will someday be gone and completely forgotten. Not one trace of it will remain, but the One whom we worship here will always be the same. The quality that He gives to our lives will abide forever. It is a kind of living with which death has nothing to do.
Some things never die – and the truths of our faith is one of them.
– This article was published in “The Universe” Catholic newspaper on 31.3.2013. Their website is http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com (external link). Fr Francis’ homilies can be ordered (books, CDs and DVDs) by requesting a mail order form. Address: 15 Cuppin St., Chester CH1 2BN; email: brfrancis@btconnect.com

 

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THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THERE, NOT FOR HER OWN SAKE, BUT FOR MANKIND

THE CHURCH IS THERE, NOT FOR HER OWN SAKE, BUT FOR MANKIND.

Christianity is not a complicated philosophy that has in the meanwhile also become obsolete, not a package of dogmas and rules beyond being grasped as a whole. Christian faith is being touched by God and witnessing to him.

The Church is there so that God, the living God, may be made known – so that man may learn to live with God, live in his sight and in fellowship with him. The Church is there to prevent the advance of hell upon earth and to make the earth fit to live through the light of God. Only on the basis of God’s presence, and only through him, is it humanised.

For the Church it is never merely a matter of maintaining her membership or even of increasing or broadening her own membership. The Church is not there for her own sake. She cannot be like an association that, in difficult circumstances, is simply trying to keep its head above the water. She has a task to perform for the world, for mankind. The only reason she has to survive is because her disappearance would drag humanity into the whirlpool of the eclipse of God and, thus, into the eclipse, indeed the destruction, of all that is human. We are not fighting for our own survival; we know that we have been entrusted with a mission that lays upon us a responsibility for everyone.

That is why the Church has to measure herself, and be measured by others, by the extent to which the presence of God, the knowledge of him, and the acceptance of his will are alive within her.

The Church is there, not for her own sake, but for mankind. She is there so that the world may become a sphere for God’s presence, the sphere of the covenant between God and man.
– Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in: Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith, Ignatius, 2002)

 
 

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ACCEPTING SUFFERING TO OVERCOME, WITH JESUS’ HELP, THE HUMAN FEAR OF IT

THY WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
What the Lord says according to the Gospel of John cannot be doubted: “God so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son, in order that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” Likewise certain is what the Apostle Paul said about the same thing: “Christ loved us, and gave Himself up in our place, an offering to God in the odour of sweetness.” In saying all by the cross of Christ, the Father and the Son had one will and one plan, nor could that be upset by any consideration which had been mercifully established and unchangeably fixed before the eternal ages.

Consequently, therefore, he who has taken on the true and whole man, dearly beloved, has taken up also the true senses of the body and the true affections of the soul. Nor, because all within Him was full of mysteries, full of miracles, does this mean therefore that He wept with ‘false’ tears, or ate food with ‘false’ hunger, or slept with ‘pretended’ sleep. He was despised in our lowliness, saddened by our sorrow, and crucified in our pain. For this did His mercy undergo the sufferings of our mortality, that He might save it. For this did His strength accept these sufferings, that He might overcome them. It is what Isaiah openly foretold, saying, “He bears our sins; He grieves for us, and we consider Him in pain, in beatings, and in distress. He was wounded for our crimes, and weakened because of our sins, and by His wound we are healed.”

When, therefore, dearly beloved, the Son of God says, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by,” He uses the voice of our nature, He pleads the cause of our human frailty and disquiet – in order to strengthen patience and drive out fear in those things we shall have to bear.
– St Leo the Great

 
 

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