|Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine's|
The Church's Year
The Introit of the Mass is the prayer of a troubled soul, entreating God for assistance against its enemies:
INTROIT Incline unto my aid, O God: O Lord, make haste to help me: let my enemies be confounded and ashamed, who seek my soul. Let them be turned backward and blush for shame, who desire evils to me. (Ps. LXIX) Glory etc.
COLLECT Almighty and merciful God, of whose gift it cometh that the faithful do Thee homage with due and laudable service: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may run without stumbling to the attainment of Thy promises. Through etc.
EPISTLE (II Cor. III. 4-9.) Brethren, such confidence we have through Christ towards God: not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God, who also hath made us fit ministers of the New Testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit: for the letter killeth: but the spirit quickeneth. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void: how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather in glory? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.
EXPLANATION St. Paul speaks in the epistle, from which this extract is taken, of the conversion of the Corinthians, which he accomplished not by his own ability, but with the help of God, who made him a minister of the New Testament, a teacher of the true religion of Christ. The New Testament by the grace of the Holy Ghost recalls the sinner from the death of sin, reconciles him to God, and thus enlivens and makes him pleasing to God; whereas the letter of the Old Law, which contains more eternal ceremonies and fewer commandments, changes not the man, but rather destroys him, that is, threatens with death the transgressor of the law instead of freeing him from sin and reconciling him to God, thus permitting him to die the eternal death. St. Paul preached the true religion of Christ, which vivifies, justifies, and sanctifies man. If the ministry of Moses was so glorified by God, that his countenance shone, when he returned from Mount Sinai, where God gave him the law, how much more dignified and glorious must be the ministry of the New Law. Learn from this to esteem the office of preaching, and be humble like St. Paul, who trusted not in himself but in God, to whom he ascribed all honor.
GOSPEL (Luke X. 23-37.) At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see. For I say to you that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear, and have not heard them. And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying: Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou? He answering, said: 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. And he said to him: Thou hast answered rightly: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him, went away; leaving him half dead. And it chanced that a certain priest went down the same way, and seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan, being on his journey, came near him: and seeing him, was moved with compassion. And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him: and the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host, and said: Take care of him, and whatsoever, thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee. Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbor to him that fell among robbers? But he said: He that showed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou in like manner.
Why does Christ call His disciples blessed?
Because they had the happiness which so many patriarchs and prophets had desired in vain, namely: of seeing Him and hearing His teaching. Though we have not the happiness to see Jesus and hear Him, nevertheless we are not less blessed than the apostles, since Christ pronounces those blessed who do not see and yet believe. (John XX. 29.)
What, besides faith, is necessary for salvation?
That we love God and our neighbor, for in these two commandments consists the whole law. (Matt. XXII. 40.)
Who is our neighbor?1
Every man, be he an acquaintance or a stranger, poor or rich, of our faith or of another; for the Samaritan did not ask the one who had fallen among robbers: Who and whence are you? but considered him his neighbor, and proved himself as such by his prompt assistance.
How should we love our neighbor?
As we love ourselves, that is, we should wish him everything good, and when in necessity do to him as we would wish others to do to us, and, on the contrary, not wish nor do to him anything that we do not wish to be done to ourselves. In this way the Samaritan loved his neighbor, and in this he was far superior to the priest and the Levite.
How can we especially practice love for our neighbor?
By the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. [See instruction for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.] Besides which we must rejoice at the spiritual and corporal graces of our neighbor, which God communicates to him; we must grieve for his misfortunes, and, according to the example of St. Paul, (I Cor. I. 4.) have compassion for him; we must bear with the faults of our neighbor, as St. Paul again admonishes us: Bear ye one another's burdens, and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ. (Gal. VI. 2.)
Why should we love our neighbor?
We should love him because God commands it; but there are also other reasons which should induce us to do so. We are not only according to nature brothers and sisters in Adam, but also according to grace, in Christ, and we would have to be ashamed before animals, if we would allow ourselves to be surpassed in the love which they bear one to another; (Ecclus, XIII. 19.) all our neighbors are the image and likeness of God, bought by the blood of Jesus, and are adopted children, called to heaven, as we are; the example of Christ, who loved us, when we were yet His enemies, (Rom. V. 10.) and gave Himself for us unto death, ought to incite us to love them. But can we be His disciples, if we do not follow Him, and if we do not bear in us the mark of His disciples, i. e. the love of our neighbor? (John XIII. 35.). Finally, the necessity of the love for our neighbor ought to compel us, as it were, to it; for without it, we cannot be saved. He that loveth not, says St. John, abideth in death, (I John III. 14.) and he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? (I John IV. 20.) because he transgresses one of the greatest commandments of God, and does not fulfil the law. (Rom. XIII, 10.)
What is necessary to make the love of our neighbor meritorious?
It must tend to God, that is, we must love our neighbor only in and for God, because God commands it, and it is pleasing to Him. For to love our neighbor on account of a natural inclination, or self-interest, or some other still less honorable reason, is only a natural, animal love, in no wise different from the love of the heathens; for the heathens also love and salute those who love and salute them in turn. (Matt. V. 46.)
PETITION. O my God, Father of mercy! give me a loving and compassionate heart, which will continually impel me to do good to my neighbor for Thy sake, so that I may merit the same from Thy mercy.
What is understood from this day's gospel in a higher and more spiritual sense?
According to the interpretation of the Fathers, our father Adam, and hence the whole human race is to be understood by the one who had fallen among robbers. The human race, which through the disobedience of Adam fell into the power of Satan and his angels, was robbed of original justice and the grace of God, and moreover, was wounded and weakened in all the powers of the soul by evil concupiscence. The priest and The Levite who represent the Old Law, would not and could not repair this misfortune; but Christ, the true Samaritan, embraced the interests of the wounded man, inasmuch as He poured the oil of His grace, and the wine of His blood into the wounds of man's soul, and thus healed him, and inasmuch as He led him by baptism into the inn of His Church, and there entrusted him to His priests for further care and nursing. Thank Christ, the good Samaritan, for this great love and care for you, and endeavor to make good use of His blessings by your cooperation.
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