lundi, mars 03, 2008

Let us be the men of the New Covenant!

Sermon for the 4th Sunday in Lent

Today’s liturgy evokes the change of Alliance that Our Lord made by His sacrifice. Once, there was an Alliance, the one of Mount Sinai as Saint Paul calls it. It was a precious gift from God and yet was still imperfect. It brought forth children in bondage. This Alliance could not offer salvation to men who were born as slaves of sin. The Law did not have the power to free them and to give them the grace. It was good but imperfect according to the epistle to the Hebrews: The law brought nothing to perfection…. (Heb 7:19) The old Alliance was figurative and transitory in the expectation of the New and definitive one. It prepared the establishment of the New Covenant and prepared the Jews to receive it. As Saint Thomas Aquinas explains, the ceremonies of the Old Law betokened Christ as having yet to be born and to suffer. They certainly express the same faith as ours, which did not change with the promulgation of the new Alliance. Saint Thomas says again that our faith in Christ is the same as that of the fathers of old; yet, since they came before Christ, whereas we come after Him, the same faith is expressed in different words, by us and by them.
So there is only one faith which saves, but two different ways to express it, whether according to that which it was before or after the work of Redemption performed by Jesus. Both laws are ordained to the same end which is man’s subjection to God, and there is but one God of the New and of the Old Testament.[1] But they are well distinct. The law was our pedagogue in Christ…. (Gal. 3:24) as Saint Paul says. The new one is now a law of perfection and of charity, which does not mean that these notions were strangers to the just of the Old Testament, but they had not yet been clearly manifested. That would be the mission of the Redeemer to teach us His new Commandment: A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34) And in fact, it is interesting to notice that Saint Thomas Aquinas explains that the just of the Old Testament already belonged to the new one: As to those under the Old Testament who through faith were acceptable to God, in this respect they belonged to the New Testament: for they were not justified except through faith in Christ, Who is the Author of the New Testament.

Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman (gal. 4,30)

Having Faith means belonging to the New Testament, which is the Testament of Charity. We will have the occasion to meditate on this during Holy Week. We have the grace to live now under the regime of the new Alliance and to benefit from the fruits of the Redemption given by the Church. We have received the fullness of the Revelation and we have the necessary and sufficient means of salvation which are basically the teachings of the Church and the Sacraments. Now we have to correspond to this fantastic grace by listening to the teachings of the Church and to use well the Sacraments. We are urged to practice the great commandment of charity, which is not optional but is the essence of our religion.
The first charity we can have is to be in the state of grace and we have no excuse if we are not. We have no excuse, because if we lost the grace, it is because of a mortal sin, which is a personal act deliberately committed. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify such an offense against God. In strict justice, if we are in the state of mortal sin, we deserve eternal damnation, and there is no way to avoid it unless we are justified again. In our present situation, justification involves the use of the Sacrament of penance.
God can certainly give his grace to those who cannot benefit from the Sacraments. For example: because they are in a place where there is no priest, but this is not our case. Consequently, not using the Sacrament of penance when you are in the state of sin is persevering in the commitment of the greatest injustice.
Now, if you are in the state of grace, you have to persevere by living a holy life. Here again, the New Law gives us everything we need for this. This Law has been sealed by the Sacrifice of Jesus and is perpetuated by the renewal of the sacrifice every day on the altar. The miracle of the multiplication of the bread that we have read in today’s gospel, announces the establishment of the Alliance. There is no better way to express our attachment to this Alliance than to participate in the sacrifice of Jesus and to unite ourselves to it. This participation is perfect when we receive Holy Communion, since there is no higher state of union on earth.
But be aware of something: your Communions must be true. I mean, you must have the good dispositions required to receive it. A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (Jn.13:34) Receiving Holy Communion and not fulfilling this commandment would be a lie. Unfortunately, it is not rare to see in our traditional communities such things as rivalries. Rivalries are perhaps inevitable, because Satan attacks us, but it still does not excuse us from not fulfilling the Law of God.
Did my neighbor trespass against me? Did he commit an injustice toward me? Well, Deo gratias! Rejoice! Be happy! Do not be happy for his sin, of course, but for being able to suffer something for Christ. What a fantastic opportunity to live the Beatitudes! What a great opportunity to live in a very practical and concrete manner the great commandment of the new Law. The old precept of the Old Law, eye for eye, tooth for tooth (Matt.5:38) is now over and a new one has been promulgated: Love your enemies! (Matt.5:44) We cannot consider ourselves as members of the New Alliance if we do not put into practice this commandment! The lack of charity of others is not and cannot be an excuse for our own lack of charity. Where there is no love, it is my duty to bring love there and not wait to expect others to do it. If they do, it will be very good. But if they do not, I am just more urged to do it. Satan might try to bring discord and to stir up rivalries and jealousies, but ultimately it is my responsibility to not listen to him, but to keep the words of God.
With the coming of the Passion Time, let us not forget the elementary precepts of our holy religion. We are members of the New Alliance as long as we keep the Law of grace in our hearts and fulfill the commandment of charity. Jesus died on the Cross in order to permit us to do this. It is up to us to accept His sacrifice by sacrificing ourselves on the altar of Charity, or to refuse it by sacrificing Charity on the altar of our selfishness.

May Our Blessed Mother help us to make the good choice!

[1] Ia-IIae Q107 art 1

6 commentaires:

Ingrida Krikštaponytė a dit…

Ce n’est pas facile d’aimer quelqu'un qui nous est vraiment antipathique, qui nous souhaite le mal, qui se moque de nous. Et comment aimer une personne qui sert évidemment le Satan ? Si j’aime des serviteurs du Satan, ca veut dire que j’aime le Satan même. Est-ce possible ?

Father Demets a dit…

Non, en effet, aimer quelqu’un qui vous fait du mal n’est pas facile. Cela demande beaucoup d’abnégation et de renoncement. Cela suppose le désir de crucifier vos propres sentiments pour une cause plus haute et plus noble: celle de la vraie charité !
Aimer ses ennemis est la marque des saints, c’est à dire de ceux qui gardent la parole du Divin Maitre et qui la pratiquent avec charité. Il nous faut vraiment l’aide de la grace pour y parvenir, car c’est bien au dessus de nos forces. Le péché originel a dénaturé la nature de l’amour. Aimer en verité, c’est vouloir le bien de mon prochain. Si mon prochain est un pécheur, c’est désirer sa conversion, et non pas nécessairement chercher vengeance s’il m’a offensé.
Meme s’il sert Satan, je dois l’aimer, tout en combatant ses oeuvres. Tant qu’il a un souffle de vie, il peut encore recevoir et accepter la grace de la conversion. L’aimer ne signifie pas aimer Satan. Bien au contraire, l’aimer signifie vouloir le liberer des griffes de Satan. C'est précisement ce qu’a fait Jesus pour nous. C’est par son Amour qu’Il nous a sauvé, nous qui etions ses ennemis

Ingrida Krikštaponytė a dit…

Oui, mais même si je veux le bien de mon prochain, je suis obligée de montrer très clairement que je désapprouve son comportement destructif. Je ne dois pas être toujours bonne, douce et sourire à tout le monde.
Moi, je préfère éviter des contacts et surtout des conflits avec des personnes qui me maltraitent. Estote ergo prudentes sicut serpentes et simplices sicut columbae :)

Anonyme a dit…

Hello Ingrida, :) I am Suzanna. I don't know if you read English but I will write anyway. :) Of course Abbe Demets gave the perfect answer,...the answer of Christ. YOu are right too, his answer certainly does not exclude the necessity of protecting yourself and defending yourself from the harm to your heart. I am glad I can read a little Frence I enjoy your exchanges with Abbe Demets. I will pray for your situation.
Have you read Anne Catherine Emmerich's 'The Life of Christ'?
May God Bless you and Holy Mary keep you wraped in her mantle of protection.

Ingrida Krikštaponytė a dit…

Hello, Suzanna! Merci pour votre commentaire. Je suis théologienne catholique de profession et par vocation. Voila pourquoi j’aime discuter avec des gens sages, et surtout avec des bons prêtres traditionalistes. Personnellement moi, je n’ai pas de difficultés dans ma vie. Bien sur, j’ai connu quelques personnes dont les intentions n’étaient pas pures, mais je sais me garder. Donc, ma situation est bonne, j’ai de la chance. Je vous remercie pour vos prières anyway ! :) :)

Anonyme a dit…

Hello Ingrida,
Well, you see how faulty my French is . ;) How fortunate you are to be a theologian! It was just my minor though I wish it had been my major......and it has been a long time ago. I will continue to enjoy your exchanges,.....hopefully with more precise understanding. :)
May God Bless you,