Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Quinqagesima Sunday-22 February AD 2009
On Charity

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

Lenten Observance
Lent brgins this Wednesday!

    "Behold, we are going to Jerusalem, and all the things that have been written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon; and after they have scourged Him, they will put Him to death; and on the third day He will rise again."

    We are only two or three days away from the beginning of Lent. We are, in a sense, setting out on this journey to Jerusalem with our Lord. We can think of the next fifty days as just that; a preparation to join Him in His crucifixion, death, and resurrection at Holy Week.

    That is the essential theme of Lent; to reorient our attentions away from the material things of the world; to redirect them to the spiritual realities which will bring us to heaven.

    It is, of course, quite deliberately that the Church has us read this passage from St. Paul's Epistles in this morning's Mass. All the fasting and penance in the world will be of absolutely no use if it is not directed toward the proper end: "If I distribute my goods to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, yet do not have charity, it profits me nothing."

    What is this thing which we call charity? First of all, it is not primarily the giving of material things to the poor-although that may arise from true charity.

    Over and above everything else, charity is love; and specifically, the love of God. Remember that God created us to demonstrate His glory, and to be happy with Him in heaven. We are made for God. We are not capable of happiness without God-indeed, that is how we define Hell: the absence or loss of God. All other happiness is merely partial. If we derive happiness from any created thing, it is because these things are God's creations, and they, therefore, reflect some of God's glory.

    So, the most important thing we can do to make a good Lent is to concentrate on, and deepen, our love of God. This is why we are urged to spend some part of each day in prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading. Only by knowing God through these means can we grow to love Him. And, we can be assured that by knowing Him, we will grow to love Him-for He is infinitely loveable, and we are made for Him.

    This Charity, or love of God, should also motivate us to love our neighbor for the love of God. That might even serve as a good indicator of how close we are coming to God. As we approach Him more closely, we should begin to see something of what He sees in our neighbors. The man next door should start to become someone who has an immortal soul to us-rather than just that fellow who stays up too late at night, playing his radio too loudly.
This Charity should certainly spill over to those of us who come together each Sunday to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass together. For the Mass is the ultimate expression of God's love for His people-and should also be an expression of His peoples' love and concern for one another.

    We don't have to become back slappers and hand shakers, displaying external affections like the Modernists. But we should take a measure of delight in one another, knowing that we share the same common love of God.
And, of course, we shouldn't ignore the common meaning of the word charity. If we can, we should do something for the poor. Lent is certainly a time to practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

    This epistle on Charity is one of St. Paul's most beautiful writings-many would say the most beautiful. Some of his other epistles are incredible run on sentences, while this is a beautifully balanced piece of poetry. In fact, this prompts some of the Modernists to claim that Saint Paul didn't write the piece, but rather someone else.

    They are clearly mistaken. The literary style may be different-put, clearly, we can see Saint Paul's heart in these words. It is not very difficult to listen to this enthusiasm for the love of God and be reminded of the adventure story we heard last week: shipwrecked, and stoned, and beaten with a lash, and escaping from cities in a basket through a hole in the wall.

    The same enthusiasm, motivated by the love of God is surely there. May God grant us a share in that same enthusiasm during this coming Lent!









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