mercredi, août 06, 2008

Sermon for the 12th after Pentecost

Saint Paul tells us how much the ministration of Our Lord was a ministration of glory. Glory! It is probably something that we all seek, but let us be sure that it is the glory of God and not a vain glory, not ours. The glory of God is manifested through the glory of His only begotten Son. It is something that the liturgy of the whole liturgical year reminds us of from the Advent season until the last Sunday after Pentecost. And the liturgy, using the verses from the Scriptures invites us to welcome our King of Glory: Who is this King of Glory? The Lord who is strong and mighty: the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in (Ps.23:8,9).
Certainly, the eternal gates are the gates of heaven that were open when Christ rose from the dead and that are open again every time that a holy soul comes to meet Him as a supreme reward for a holy life. But they also signify our souls that are eternal too and that must be opened in order to welcome Christ and then to continue His ministration of glory on earth. Opening the gates of our souls to Christ is the key that will open the gates of heaven for us.
How can we do this? What do we have to do? It is a crucial question that the lawyer asks in today’s gospel: Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? And we know the answer; we know it so well, as the lawyer did, since it was already written in the Old Law. So how is it possible that we are so tardy to put it into practice? Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself (Lk.10:27).
The love of God is the true ministration of glory, but it has to be true, total and integral. How can it be such? It is only when we love our neighbor as ourselves. The measure of the love of our neighbor is the measure of love for ourselves, and it is, unfortunately, a thing that only a few understand well. Aristotle had already understood this with only the strength of his reason, that the origin of friendly relations with others lies in our relations to ourselves.
But let us well understand. We do not speak about a sensitive love of nature, which would be a kind of selfishness, but about a love out of charity. And charity is a friendship. Properly speaking, Saint Thomas says, a man is not a friend to himself, but something more than a friend. Friendship implies union, but a man is one with himself which is more than being united to other. Hence, just as unity is the principle of union, so the love with which a man loves himself is the form and root of friendship.
So in order to love others well, we have to be entirely one with ourselves. The secret of charity has to be found within the depths of our very person. If you enter into yourself, you will find God; and if you find Him, you will find your neighbor. Our ministration of glory begins with an inner quest of God and this quest has to be followed by external acts of charity. Let us be sure that we do not become withdrawn; it would be selfishness and not charity. Here, it is a matter of balance between two opposite extremes. Dedicating yourself to your neighbor without taking a sufficient time for your soul and your spiritual life is dangerous. Your actions are not totally rooted in Christ and your charity might become a mere natural humanism. But refusing to help your neighbor under the pretext that you have to take care of your soul might be selfishness. It is sometimes easy to hide our selfishness behind the mask of piety.
In fact there is a time for everything: a time for the works of mercy, a time for the works of charity, a time for the works of piety and of religion. We do not always have the choice of this time. Our good Samaritan probably had something else to do when he met the wounded man. But it was his time, by God’s choice.

The love of God is the true ministration of glory. May our Lady help us to make it clear in our minds. May she help us discover the timing of God when we are called to do good to our neighbor. Let us not miss these opportunities that God gives us, often many times a day.

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