|Second Sunday after Pentecost|
he First Epistle of St. John the Apostle, iii. 13-18. Dearly Beloved: Wonder not if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death; whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself. In this we have known the charity of God, because He hath laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him, how doth the charity of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
A true Christian may be known by the love he has for his neighbor. For as it belongs to a child of this world, to the wicked, the godless, to hate and persecute the man whose life contradicts their own, so, on the other hand, love of one's neighbor, of one's enemy, is the mark by which to know whether a man is truly regenerated and translated from the death of sin to spiritual life. For he that loveth not, abideth in death - can not become a child of God, Who is love; has not in him the life of God; rather he is a murder, because his lack of love, and his hatred, have first deprived him of spiritual life, and next, become the source of all other offences against his neighbor, of scandal, of seduction like Satan, of murder like Cain.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Luke, xiv. 16-24. At that time Jesus spoke to the Pharisees this parable: A certain man made a great supper, and invited many. And he sent his servant at the hour of supper to say to them that were invited, that they should come, for now all things are ready. And they began all at once to make excuse. The first said to him: I have bought a farm, and I must needs go out and see it: I pray thee, hold me excused. And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them: I pray thee, hold me excused. And another said: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. And the servant returning told these things to his lord. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city: and bring in hither the poor and the feeble and the blind and the lame. And the servant said: Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the Lord said to the servant: Go out into the highways and hedges; and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. But I say unto you, that none of those men that were invited shall taste of my supper.
How is the parable of the great supper to be understood?
By the supper is meant the kingdom of God upon earth, the Church of Christ, in which are deposited all the treasures of grace, for the nourishment, strengthening, and sanctification of our souls. It is a great supper, because the Church is to take in all men of all times.
Jesus, the God-Man, Himself prepares this supper by establishing His Church. The servant represents the apostles and the successors whom He sends into all the world, to call both Jew and gentiles. The first invited were the Jews, to whom the coming of the Messias had been announced beforehand, and who were the first called to the Church.
What is denoted by the excuses of those invited?
He who bought a farm signifies those proud and avaricious men who seek only for temporal goods; he who wished to try his five yoke of oxen represents those too busy persons who find no time to do anything for God and heaven; finally, he who could not come on account of his wife stands for those sensual persons who, through the lusts and pleasures of sense, render themselves insensible to heavenly joys.
Now as the Jews, by such worthless excuses, had shown themselves unworthy to be received into the kingdom of God, they were accordingly shut out, and others called in their stead.
Who are these others?
First, the humble and docile Jews, who were the opposite of the proud, avaricious, and sensual Pharisees; and in the next place those gentiles prepared for Christianity, who, through the apostles and their successors, were brought into the Church from the four quarters of the world.
In what other sense may this parable be understood?
St. Gregory interprets it as referring to the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. That is, indeed, a feast to which all are invited, which offers the fulness of graces and spiritual gifts, and is, therefore, fitly called a great feast; it is despised by the sensual. proud, and earthly; but to the penitent, the humble, the loving, it conveys innumerable blessings and inestimable benefits.
LESSONS AGAINST IMPURITY.
"I have married a wife, and therefore cannot come." - Luke xiv. 20.
By intorducing in this parable a wedding as an excuse, Our Saviour points out impurity as a hinderance to entering into the kingdom of heaven; that is, the violation of modesty, either in thought, imagination, or desire, in gesture, words, dress, or actions; thus He would show us how detestable, shameful, and pernicious is this vice, which makes men so miserable, and incite us to purity and chastity, in whatever state of life we may live.
On account of this sin of impurity, God repented of having created mankind, and brought the flood upon the earth, destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha with fire and brimstone, cut off the brothers Her and Onan by sudden death, and gave nearly the whole tribe of Benjamin to be slain.
What are the best means to preserve us from impurity?
1. Avoid the following: (a) idleness, which breeds evil thoughts and desires; (b) reading bad books; (c) excess in eating and drinking; (d) bad company.
2. (a) Preserve modesty, which is a safeguard against impurity; (b) reverence God; (c) remember the bitter passion and death of Our Saviour; (d) think frequently of death, judgment, and hell.
3. Flee the first sin; dread the first thought, the first motion; avoid, also, what appears a trifling thing, if it offend modesty.
4. Be zealous in prayer to God, and to His blessed Mother.
5. Restrain your senses, particularly your eyes. Learn to be abstemious, and deny yourself even lawful enjoyments and pleasures, that you may the more easily give up those that are unlawful.
6. Watch always, and especially on occasions that cannot be avoided.
7. Finally, go often to holy communion, and choose a zealous confessor, in whom you ought to place entire confidence and follow as your father. Think on God; combat on every occasion promptly, without making terms; call confidently on God for help, and you will carry off the victory, and become worthy, one day, to be a follower of the Lamb.