|Third Sunday after Epiphany|
he Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, xii. 16-21. Brethren: Be not wise in your own conceits: to no man rendering evil for evil: providing good things, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge to Me: I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink; for doing this thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.
What is the meaning of the words, "Revenge to Me: I will repay, saith the Lord"?
They mean that God alone has the right to revenge. "Are you impatient," says St. Ambrose, "then you will be conquered: but do you suffer in patience, then you will be conqueror."
What must we do, then, when our honor is attacked?
When an injury by others brings serious consequences upon us, it is not only permissible, but even a duty, to defend our honor and good name. In matters of less importance we should leave our assailants to God, according to the admonition of the Apostle.
Is it wrong to wish our neighbor the evil that he wished us?
Certainly; for it is contrary to the law of God, Who commands us "to love our enemies, to do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate us" (Matt. v. 44; Luke vi. 35).
How are we to "heap coals of fire on the heads of our enemies"?
When, according to the will of God, we render good for evil, thereby confounding our enemies and causing them to burn with shame; St. Augustine says: "Tou will heap burning coals of love on his head, for nothing sooner begets love than to meet one with love."
Enable me, O heavenly Father, so to follow these admonitions of St. Paul in regard to the love of my enemies that I may be Thy child, Who makest Thy sun to shine upon the evil and upon the good.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Matthew, viii. 1-13. At that time, when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him: and behold a leper came and adored Him, saying: Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus stretching forth His hand, touched him, saying: I will. Be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him: See thou tell no man: but go show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them. And when He had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion, making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this: Go, and he goeth: and to another: Come, and he cometh: and to my servant: Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this, marvelled: and said to them that followed Him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.
Why did the leper say to Jesus, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean"?
Because he believed Jesus to be the promised Missias, Who, as true God, had the power to heal him. When we pray, we must be careful not to prescribe to God what He shall give us, but begin by saying, "If it be pleasing to Thee, and advantageous to me, give me this or that grace."
Why did Jesus stretch forth His hand and touch him?
So that he might understand that his leprosy was to be healed. Let us also imitate the example of Jesus by assisting each other in sickness, not shirking this work of charity from aversion or excessive delicacy.
Why did Jesus say, "I will, be thou made clean"?
To reveal His almightiness, and to show that all things were subject to Him.
Why did Jesus say, "See thou tell no man"?
To show His modesty and humility, and to teach us, when we do good works, not to speak of them, thus losing our reward (Matt. vi. 2, 3).
What does the Saviour mean by saying, "Go show thyself to the priest"?
1. Christ wished to show His respect for the law of Moses for lepers were required to show themselves to the priests, who were to decide whether they were clean or not. He also teaches us that priests should receive their proper respect. 2. He reminded him who was cleansed to give thanks to God by offering the gift which Moses commanded.
What does the solicitude of the centurion teach us?
That masters and mistresses should take care of their sick servants, and do what they can to restore them to health.
Why did Our Saviour say, "I will come and heal him"?
To show His profound humility, for although He was God, and the Lord of lords, He did not hesitate to visit a poor servant.
Why did the centurion say, "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof"?
Out of humility, for he acknowledged Jesus to be Almighty God.
What is the meaning of the words, "That many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham," etc.
Christ meant that many unblievers shall receive the Gospel, and, living according to it, shall thereby gain the kingdom of heaven, while the Jews, who were the chosen people of God, shall, for their inbelief and sins, be cast out into the exterior darkness - that is, into the most exctuciating pains of hell.
O Jesus, fountain of consolation, give me the faith and confidence of the leper, that I may always trust in Thy almighty power, and give myself up to Thy divine will. O most humble Jesus, give me the humility of the centurion, that I may for the sake of Thee love and assist my neighbor, particularly those of my household and family, the poor and the sick, and gain an eternal reward. Amen.