Posted by: fvbcdm | July 8, 2014

Feast of Saint Raymond of Toulouse (8 July 2014)

“The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of justice, peace, and the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit.” I was struck by these words of Saint Paul to the Romans while reading the Liturgy of the Hours for Thursday of this week.

Let’s reflect for a moment on these words. Saint Paul has been writing to the converts to Christianity in Rome about the contrast between the Mosaic law and the law of Christ. We gave this some thought yesterday. Now, he goes on to talk about eating and drinking.  He is referring to the kosher laws by which the Jews were forbidden to eat certain foods, like pork and shellfish, and in certain combinations, as in the prohibition of dairy products at the same meal with meat. These things don’t matter any more, he says. What matters is justice, peace, and the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

The word “justice” is synonymous with our word “holiness.”  They both mean the condition of being like God, who is all-just, all-holy. We are expected to make it our life-long ambition to be like God in our lives of virtue and of relationships with others. And then, we are to be men and women of peace. We are to try to put all hostility, all malice, all contention, all quarrelsomeness, all negativity out of our lives, and live in peace with God and our fellow human beings.

And then, we are, first, to possess, and then to manifest to others the joy given by the Holy Spirit. Think of yourself; think of the impression that you make upon others as well as you can gauge it. Are you a joyful person? Does your joy manifest itself to others? Is it evident to them that your faith in God, your hope and trust in him, and your love for him and your fellow men and women makes you happy and suffuses your life with a sense of well-being, even when there are crosses to be carried and sorrows to be endured?

Look at your immediate family of whom you are a daily part. Do you radiate to them an ambient of holiness, peace, and joy?  Is your home one in which those qualities are cultivated and shared with those who come into your home? Let us remember that the Holy Spirit wants to give us joy. The question is: are we willing to receive it? Do we render ourselves capable of receiving it by being more concerned with the things of the Spirit than with worldly and temporal considerations? Is the beauty of your soul as important to you as the beauty of your body? If that were true of all of us, then the amount of money given to the poor or to worthy spiritual causes would be as great as the amount of money spent on cosmetics, hair styling, costume jewelry, tattoos, and other things of that kind, all used to try to make the body more attractive or appealing to ourselves and others. And we know that that is unfortunately not the case.

Justice, peace, and the joy given by the Holy Spirit. These are the realities identified by Saint Paul as being constitutive of the kingdom of God. Let’s work on them seriously. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This Message was composed some years ago.

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