“The Necessity of Charity to All”

Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Year A 23 February 2020

“For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this?” Mt. 5:46

Today’s readings remind us of the very radical teaching of Jesus Christ, to have charity for our neighbour. Hitherto, the world was governed by the law of retribution, but now Jesus, who is Divine Wisdom, gives us the absolute truth of God’s heavenly wisdom: “You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other: And if a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him.” (Mt. 5:38-40) St Gregory Nazianzen tells us that there is nothing more divine, more Christ-like, than meekness and patience in doing good. St John Chrysostom says that nothing is more valuable for the spiritual life than to practice meekness and patience to our neighbour: “Of all the virtues leading to salvation, let us seek mainly those that benefit our neighbour... In the things of this world no one lives for himself; the craftsman, the soldier, the farmer, the merchant, all without exception contribute to the common good and the good of their neighbour. This happens even more fully in the spiritual life, which is the true life. He who lives only for himself and despises his neighbour is useless, is not a man, does not belong to our lineage.” Father Francis Fernandez, in his book of meditations, ‘Conversation with God’, says, “The Christian way of conduct is not the way of an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth, but to do good always, even though such an attitude will not result in any human gain in this world—but at least we will have enriched our hearts.”

Charity Towards All

In today’s Second Reading, St Paul teaches us that we need to practise charity to all: “Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” (I Corinthians 3:16-17) We need to love everyone because they are temples of the Holy Ghost. Father Fernandez says, “The commandment of charity not only applies to those who show us love and kindness, but to everyone without exception. ‘You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you...’(Mt. 5:43-44).” We have to practise charity even to those who hate us and ill-treat us because nothing changes the attitude of others like kindness and charity. St Augustine, in his ‘Commentary on the First Epistle of St John’, tells us that we need to practise this charity to our enemies to make them change and become our friends: “One must show fraternal love towards him who is already a brother, and towards the one who acts as an enemy, so that he may become a brother.”

“Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mt. 5:48

Our Catholic faith demands that we practise heroic virtue. “For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:46-48) In the First Reading from the Book of Leviticus, Moses is told by God also to tell the people to be holy as God is holy: “Be ye holy, because I the Lord your God am holy.” (Lev. 1:2) To be holy and perfect, we must imitate the perfect charity of Jesus Christ. We have to be perfect as He was perfect during His life and especially on the Cross when He forgave those who were crucifying Him: “And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”(Lk. 23:34) Father Fernandez tells us: “Assisted by grace, we will also show charity towards those who do not behave as children of God but rather offend Him, because in the words of St Augustine, ‘no sinner, as a sinner, is worthy of love; but every man, as a man, is lovable by God.’” If we truly wish to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to love one another: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” (Jn. 13:35)

St. Maximilian Kolbe on Confession

How to Achieve Heaven Even Here on Earth.

“In any case, those who on this earth have had a chance to taste in advance a little bit of heaven can get some idea of what it will be like. Now everyone can have this experience. All he needs to do is to go to confession with sincerity, diligence, a deep sorrow for his sins and a firm resolve to amend his life. He will suddenly feel a peace and happiness compared with which all the fleeting, unworthy pleasures of this world are really an odious torment. Let everyone seek to come and receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with proper preparation. Let him never permit his soul to remain in sin, but let him purify it immediately. Let him do his duty manfully. Let him address humble and frequent prayers to God’s throne, especially through the hand of the Immaculate Virgin. Let him welcome his brethren with a charitable heart, bearing for God’s sake the sufferings and difficulties of life. Let him do good to all, even his enemies, solely for the love of God and not in order to be praised or even thanked by men. Then he will come to understand what it means to have a foretaste of paradise; and perhaps more than once he will find peace and joy even in poverty, suffering, disgrace and illness.”

“…regaining lost joy ...”

Pope St. John Paul in his Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliation and Penance, 2 December, 1984, 31, III tells us that every contrite Confession is, “a drawing near to the holiness of God, a rediscovery of one’s true identity, which has been upset and disturbed by sin, a liberation in the very depths of one’s self and thus a regaining of lost joy, the joy of being saved, which the majority of people in our time are no longer capable of experiencing.”

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