Posted by: fvbcdm | June 12, 2014

Feast of Saint Christian (12 June 2014)

The three theological virtues, as they are called, are faith, hope, and charity or love. These are the principal ways in which we relate to God. We believe in him and what he reveals to us by faith; we hope in what he promises by hope; we love him and our neighbor because of him by charity or love. These three virtues are parts of the total reality that we call “the state of grace,” or the state of friendship with God.

In the readings for Mass of this Thursday of the seventh week of Ordinary time, we find important passages having to do with the virtue of hope, and we will do well to reflect upon them. The book of Sirach tells us: Rely not on your wealth . . . rely not on your strength. Say not: I have sinned, yet what has befallen me? for the Lord bides his time . . . of forgiveness do not be overconfident . . . delay not your conversion to the Lord; put it not off from day to day.

Then, in the gospel, Our Divine Lord is even more pointed: “If your hand is your difficulty, cut it off. Better for you to enter life maimed than to keep both hands and enter Hell with its unquenchable fire. If your eye is your downfall, tear it out. Better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to be thrown with both eyes into Hell.” You cannot find words clearer than that. And yet, there are many people who, either in theory or in practice or both, do not fear God’s retribution of their sins.  A year or so ago, an angry mother withdrew one of her children from our religious education program here in this parish because she found out that the children were being taught about sin.  She told the teacher that she would not allow the Church to instill feelings of guilt or fear in her child.  I wonder what, if anything, she substituted for the religious education of that child, and how she deals with these words of Jesus about cutting off hands or feet or gouging out the eye rather than allowing these parts of the body to lead us into sin. Of course, Jesus is speaking figuratively.  Sin is in the will, not in the parts of the body. He is not seriously recommending maiming ourselves, but is rather emphasizing the importance of avoiding sin and practicing virtue.

The virtue of hope is that beautiful and humble dependence upon the goodness, love, and mercy of God which allows us to be very confident that God will give us all the means necessary to achieve eternal salvation, IF we will cooperate as we must. Saint Augustine says, “God created us without our cooperation, but will not save us without our cooperation.”  We are to practice virtue and avoid sin. And if we should sin, we are to be truly contrite, which includes the firm purpose of amendment, as we call it—the firm intention of not sinning again. Jesus died on the cross for our salvation; it is not too much to ask of us that we do our part to achieve that same salvation. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you, Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago

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