|Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost|
he Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, iii. 4-9. Brethren: Such confidence we have through Christ towards God: not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God: Who also hath made us fit ministers of the New Testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit: for the letter killeth: but the spirit quickeneth. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void: how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather in glory? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory: much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.
St. Paul here introduces a comparison between the priesthood of the Old and that of the New Law, in order to show that the dignity of the priesthood under the New Law (and consequently the respect and confidence due to it) as far excels the dignity of the priesthood under the Old as the spirit does the letter - the truth the figure. For if the ministry of Moses, which consisted in the service of the letter, and imparted no grace, was so glorious, how much more glorious is that priesthood of the New Law, through which is conveyed the sanctifying grace of God! And how much more veneration and obedience should accordingly be paid to the priests of the New Law!
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Luke, x. 23-37. At that time Jesus said to His disciples: Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see. For I say to you that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear, and have not heard them. And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting Him, and saying: Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? But He said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou? He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself. And He said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him: and, having wounded him, went away leaving him half dead. And it chanced, that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan being on his journey came near him: and seeing him, was moved with compassion. And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host, and said: Take care of him: and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I at my return will repay thee. Which of these three in thy opinion was neighbour to him that fell among the robbers? But he said: He that showed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go and do thou in like manner.
Why does Jesus call His disciples blessed?
Because they had the happiness which so many kings, patriarchs, and prophets had desired in vain - of seeing the Saviour of the world, and of hearing His teaching.
What is it to love God?
To acknowledge God as the highest and most perfect good; to desire that He should be known, honored, loved, by all men; that His will should ne fulfilled by all; and so zealously to observe His commandments that we would lose all the goods of life, and even life itself, rather than transgress these commands and be separated from God.
What does it mean to love God with the whole heart, etc.?
"With thy whole heart" signifies with all the motions and inclinations of the heart; "with thy whole soul," with all the thoughts, conceptions of the soul; "with thy whole mind," with all the desires, wishes, and determination of the will; "with all thy strength," with all the powers and faculties of body and soul - with all the acts and motions of the senses. All these should be directed to God alone, as the last object and end of man.
How can this be done?
By doing whatever we do, whether it be mental or manual labor, eating, drinking, or recreation, with the intention of doing the will of God and what is pleasing to Him. By this it is understood that idle talk, intemperance in meat and drink, and in general all sinful works, cannot be offered to God, because they are contrary to His will and therefore deserve punishment.
Is that true love which loves God because He does us good?
That love is truly good and praiseworthy, but not perfect, for self-interest creeps in with it.
What, then, is the perfect love of God?
When we love God only because He is in Himself the highest good and most worthy of love. In such manner must we endeavor to love God; not out of self-interest, not from the expectation of reward, nor yet from fear of punishment.
Can every one thus love God?
Yes; for there is no state of life in which we cannot refer everything to God. Love does not require great deeds, but that we should avoid evil, and refer everything to God; and all can do this.
O Jesus, rich in love, Who hast so earnestly exhorted us to the love of God and of our neighbor, engrave deep in our hearts, we pray Thee, this commandment of love, that whatever we do or leave undone, all our thoughts, words, and works, may begin and end in love of Thee; and that no tribulation, temptation, or danger, nor even death itself, may ever separate us from Thee. Grant, also, that out of love to Thee we may love our neighbor, whether friend or enemy, as ourselves, and by this love may desire to have Thee as a Saviour and merciful Judge.
Who is our neighbor?
Every man, be he a foreigner or a fellow-countryman, poor or rich, of our own religion or of any other, a friend or an enemy.
How are we to love our neighbor?
We must love our neighbor as ourselves; that is, we must wish for him and do for him what in similar circumstances we should desire for ourselves, and not wish for him or do to him what we would not wish done to ourselves (Matt. vii. 12).
In what way are we particularly to practise the love of our neighbor?
1. By heartily rejoicing over the gifts and graces which our neighbor has received from God, and by sympathizing with him in misfortune; 2. By praying God to grant to our neighbor such gifts as St. Paul, on his knees, besought for the Ephesians, - the fulness of the knowledge of God, and of all perfection; 3. By overlooking and patiently bearing our neighbor's faults, disorders, and imfirmities of every kind, as St. Paul says: "Bear ye one another's burdens and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ"; 4. In general, by both the spiritual and the corporal works of mercy.
With what intention should we love our neighbor?
We must love our neighbor in God, and for God's sake, because He commands it, and because such love is pleasing to Him.