for Alfie Evans, 19 Months old ,
another hostage of socialized medicine in Britain.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
Sunday Within the Octave of the Nativity
Dominica infra Octavam Nativitatis
child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and
for a sign which shall be contradicted….”
These words were uttered by a prophet—an old man named
Simeon—who had been promised by the Holy Ghost that he would not die until
He had seen “the Christ”—“the anointed One” of the Lord.
He came every day to the Temple, knowing that the Christ’s parents would
present Him there on the fortieth day after His birth, for the ritual
purification from childbirth prescribed by the Mosaic Law.
Simeon knew that even though there could be no impurity in the birth of the
Christ, that His Mother would nonetheless carry out the prescriptions of the
Mosaic Law—he would find them in the Temple. Sinlessness and purity, He was
the “Sign of Contradiction.”
What is this “Sign of Contradiction?”
I cannot find his exact quote, but we have it on the
good authority of the great preacher, Fr. Leonard Goffine, that
to the saying of Saint Bernard [of Clairvaux], Christ is a sign of
contradiction for many Christians who contradict His humility by their
pride, His poverty by their avarice, His fasting by their gluttony, His
purity by their impurity, His zeal by their indolence, etc., thus denying by
their actions that which they confess with their lips, proving thereby that
they are Christians but in name….
It is, of course, quite true that we human beings are
often guilty of false pride, avarice, gluttony, impurity, laziness, and
hypocrisy. In the Person of Jesus Christ, all of these faults are
contradicted. If we have one or more of these faults, we can do nothing
better than looking to Jesus and seeing how he managed to exclude them from
By way of example, if we are guilty of avarice or
greed, we can look to the life of Jesus (and His saints) and see that it is
possible to live a life filled with the things that matter while not having
a great deal of riches. “Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of
the air ….”
If we are guilty of laziness, in Jesus and His Apostles
we can see lives dedicated to striving for the salvation of as many souls as
possible. The Gospels relate a nearly endless journey north and south,
backwards and forwards, across Israel, during the public life of Christ—a
journey crossing the known world during the ministry of the Apostles. Saint
Paul always comes to my mind in thing about heroic effort—heroic effort, and
rarely under easy conditions. “In labor and painfulness, in much watching,
in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness.”
“Beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and left to float on the sea.”
For any and all of our faults we can always find a
contradictory strength to imitate in Jesus and His saints. First of all, we
will see that it is possible to overcome the fault—and knowing that it is
possible is always a good start. We may gain some practical advice on how
to overcome the fault—many of the saints wrote explicitly how they overcame
their personal faults. And, nothing is more powerful than prayer to Jesus,
His holy Mother, and to the countless men and women who are God’s saints.
There is no better model than the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—if we
are trying to overcome faults in our family life.
Let me point out that our Lord’s “Sign of
Contradiction” is not a condemnation of material
things. God’s creation includes both matter and spirit. To suggest that
spirit is good but that matter is evil is the rank heresy of the Manicheans.
What God has created is radically good—it is only misuse of His creation
that brings about evil. Even the devils were created to be good—of their
own free will they placed themselves in opposition to God—misusing
their angelic nature made them demons.
The faults mentioned by Saint Bernard—false pride,
greed, gluttony, impurity, laziness, and hypocrisy—all represent the
misuse of the human mind and body. And it must be remembered
that our minds and bodies were created “to show forth God’s glory in this
world, and to be eternally happy with Him in the next.”
And it must also be remembered that our minds and bodies, used correctly,
can turn all of these vices into virtues:
Striving to do our best is not false pride
Working hard to provide for ourselves, our families, the
Church, and the poor is not greed
Eating enough of the right foods is not gluttony
Raising good children for Church and civil society is not
Finding labor and energy saving ways to do things is not
We can learn to do as we say, free of all hypocrisy.
Jesus Christ is, indeed, a “Sign of Contradiction”—a
sign that must become a necessary part of our lives. Our minds and bodies
are good things. We must be ever vigilant to use them
for good—ever vigilant to contradict anything that can
turn them to evil!