|Fifth Sunday after Pentecost|
he First Epistle of St. Peter the Apostle, iii. 8-15. Dearly Beloved: Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, being lovers of the brotherhood, merciful, modest, humble: not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this are you called, that you may inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. Let him decline from evil, and do good: let him seek after peace and pursue it: because the eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and His ears unto their prayers: but the countenance of the Lord upon them that do evil things. And who is he that can hurt you, if you be zealous of good? But if also you suffer any thing for justice' sake, blessed are ye. And be not afraid of their fear, and be not troubled; but sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts.
How may and ought we to sanctify the lord Jesus in our hearts?
By faithfully imitating Him; for thereby we become His true and faithful disciples, honor Him, sanctify ourselves and edify others, who by our good example are led to admire Christianity, and Christ its founder, and to become His followers.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Matthew, v. 20-24. At that time Jesus said to His disciples: I tell you, unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill: and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you: that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool: shall be in danger of hell fire. If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee: leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.
In what did the justice of the Pharisees consist?
They were very pious in outward appearance, and avoided those vices which caused temporal disgrace and injury; but, on the other hand, they were full of malice in their hearts, and this Christ often reproached them with, calling them hypocrites.
How are we to understand what Christ says about anger and using abusive words?
The meaning of His words is "You have heard from your teachers and doctors of the law, that whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of men; but I say to you, who think it no sin to be angry or envious, that whosoever is angry with his brother without cause, shall be in danger of the judgment of God. You have heard that whosoever calls his brother foo, shall be brought before the council and punished; but I say to you, that God punishes with hell fire every grievous offence against your neighbor, as also the hatred and enmity of your heart towards Him."
Why must one first be reconciled to his brother before he offers his gift at the altar, or undertakes any good work?
Because no offering, or other good work, can be pleasing to God so long as we are living in enmity, hatred, and strife with our neighbor, and thereby going directly against His will and example.
Remedies for Anger.
The first and best means to overcome anger is humility; to become thus humble, gentle, and patient, one must often consider the example of Christ, Who endured so many contradictions, persecutions, and insults, without reviling again when reviled Himself, and without threatening vengeance to any one for all He suffered. An excellent preventive to anger is, to think over in the morning what causes will be likely to draw us into anger at any time during the day, and to guard ourselves against them beforehand, by a firm resolution to bear everything patiently for the love of God; and then, when anything vexatious occurs and excites our anger, to say and do nothing so long as the anger lasts.
How shall we be reconciled with our enemies?
Not only with the lips but from the heart, and with sincerity and promptness. "Is he absent whom you have wronged," says St. Augustine, "so that you can easily reach him? humble yourself then before God, and ask His pardon before you offer your giftm with a firm resolution to be reconciled with your enemy as soon as possible."
INSTRUCTION ON SWEARING.
To swear is to call upon God, His truth, His justice, or other attributes, or upon His creatures, in the name of God, as witnesses of the truth.
Is swearing lawful, and when?
Yes, when necessity demands it, and when the matter sworn to is true and just: when a man thus swears he imitates God, honors Him as all-holy, all-wise, all-just, and contributes to the triumph of justice and innocence. On the other hand, great sins are committed: 1. By those who swear in a false and unjust cause, which may be, besides, of little moment; for they call upon God as a witness to falsehood and wrong, thus violating His truth and justice. 2. By those who swear in a good cause, but without necessity or a sufficient reason; for it is certainly unseemly to call God as witness on every trivial occasion. 3. In like manner, they sin grievously and constantly who have become so habituated to swearing as to break out into oaths, without so much as knowing or thinking whether the thing is true or false, whether they will keep their word or not; whereby they expose themselves to great danger, both because they frivolously abuse the name of God, of His saints, and of His works.
Every one, says St. Chrysostom, who swears often sometimes swears falsely; just as he who talks a great deal sometimes utters things unseemly and improper. For this reason, according to the opinion of St. Augustine, the Saviour forbade Christians to swear at all (Matt. v. 34), that they might not fall into a habit of swearing, and, by reason of that, into swearing falsely. Whoever has this habit should take the greatest pains to overcome it. To accomplish which, it will be useful to him to reflect: 1. That if we have to render an account for every idle word we speak, how much more strictly will we be judged for needless, idle, and false oaths! "Remember thy last end, and thou shalt not sin." 2. To remember that persons who swear so lightly are generally less believed than others. 3. To repent each time that he swears, and to punish himself by a penance.