|Fifth Sunday after Epiphany|
he Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians, iii. 12-17. Brethren: Put ye on therefore as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection; and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.
Why does St. Paul call charity the bond of perfection?
Because it combines all the virtues of which perfection consists. For whoever loves God and his neighbor practises in a perfect manner all virtues, such as humility, mercy, patience. St. Paul would have all Christians to be rich, that is, well instructed in the word of God, that it may console and strengthen them inall adversities, which purpose is to be attained also by attending at the public services, where Christians edify one another by psalms and canticles.
The Apostle further admonishes us to do all, whatsoever we do, in word or in work - whether it be to eat, or drink, or sleep - to do all in the name of Jesus, in His spirit and according to His will; thus honoring and praising God, our heavenly Father.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Matthew, xiii. 24-30. At that time Jesus spoke this parable to the multitude, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seeds in his field: but while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat, and went his way. And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. And the servants of the goodman of the house coming said to him: Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it cockle? And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up? And he said: No; lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn; but the wheat gather ye into my barn.
What is to be understood by the kingdom of heaven?
The Church of God, or the congregation of the faithful upon earth.
What are we to understand by the good seed and the cockle?
By the good seed is meant good Christians, children of God, who bring forth thousandfold fruit of good works; the cockle denotes heretics, infidels, and bad men. We are also to understand by the good seed the word of God, and by the cockle false doctrines and principles.
Who are they that are asleep?
1. Those secular and ecclesiastical superiors who neglect the obligations of their office, fail to watch over their flock, and to punish the guilty. In this case it is easy for the devil to corrupt the congregation by false doctrine, by mockery or religion, by bad example, and immoral books. 2. Those Christians who cease to use the means of salvation by absenting themselves from divine service, by omitting to receive the sacraments, to hear the word of God, or to do good works.
Why does not God gather up the wicked, who are the cockle, and destroy them?
1. On account of His long-suffering and patience towards the sinner, whom He gives the opportunity of doing penance. 2. Out of love for the just and righteous; for should He exterminate the wicked, the just would lose the opportunity of exercising many virtues, such as patience, meekness, mercy, purity, and perseverance to the end, whereby they acquire the merits of eternal life.
O Jesus, Who hast sown the good seed of Thy divine word in our hearts, grant that it may bring forth in us, many fold, the fruit of eternal life. Defend us against the enemy, that he may not sow in us false and wicked doctrines to destroy our good works; preserve us from the sleep of sin and sloth, that we may watch against the temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh; and, having overcome them, may die happily. Amen.