THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Fourth Sunday in Lent

15 March 2015

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Dear Friend,

Jesus has compassion on us, and all men. Not only does God provide us with our material needs, but more importantly He supplies all our spiritual wants. In having compassion upon the crowd that followed Him, Jesus indicates to us the necessity of our doing likewise. He would have us practice the virtue of giving alms. It is not enough for us to just tell our brother in need that we will pray for him. Jesus would have us aid him through every material way possible. In referring to the Last Day, He says, "when I was hungry, you gave Me to eat; when I was naked, you clothed Me; when I was homeless, you sheltered Me; when I was sick or imprisoned, you visited Me…" (Matthew 25, 35 ff) He tells us that when we do these things for the least of our brothers we do them for Him.

Jesus is also preparing us for something much greater than the multiplication of material food for our bodies. Today's miracle hints to us of the day when He will multiply Himself in the Holy Eucharist to feed our souls, the very Life and Body of His Divinity. However, before we can worthily approach and receive Him and the graces He desires to bestow, we must imitate His compassion and good works towards one another. (Especially, we should practice these works of mercy toward those of household of the True Faith. Charity begins at home.)

The love and concern for those who followed Him are very evident in the miracle that He performed in today's Gospel. He would have us practice a similar love. The perfect life is to spend all we have in the aid of our fellow men for the love of God. This is what Jesus has done. He came to this earth, taking upon Himself our nature and then sacrificing His life and all His blood for us upon a cross. He has invited all who would be perfect, to sell all that they have, give it to the poor, and come follow Him. This is the most perfect form of almsgiving. There are however, lesser degrees of perfection. We can perhaps understand better if we consider the instruction that Tobias has given to his son. If we have much, we should give much, but if we only have a little, we should make sure that we at least give a little. (Tobias 4, 7) The Widow's mite is considered of greater value than all the shekels that were given by the wealthy. She gave of her necessity, while the rest only gave of their abundance. (Luke 21, 1-4)

The Divine warning has never ceased since the fall of mankind. The Holy Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testament, are filled with urgings to do works of mercy. Isaiah is commanded: "Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew the people their wicked doings, and the house of Jacob their sins." (Is 58, 1) God then instructs them and us how to make satisfaction for our sins and appease God by almsgiving. "Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house; when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not they own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily arise, and they justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am." (Is. 58, 7-9)

If we have had the opportunity to be merciful and have not, then we have no right to hope for mercy from God. It is in practicing mercy that we may hope for mercy. "Blessed is he that understands concerning the needy and the poor, for in the day of evil the Lord shall deliver him." (Ps. 40, 2)

St. Cyprian instructs us: "Christ has given us His precepts; He has taught us what His servants must do; and has promised rewards to those who do good works, and threatened with chastisements the barren. He has set forth His judgment. He has foretold that in which we shall be judged. What justification can they have who do nothing? What is to be said for those who are barren of every good work?"

The instruction, example, and guide has been given us. All that remains is for us to promptly and generously strive for the crown of the works of mercy. "Let us enter this contest of good will; at which God and Christ are present. And let us who have begun to rise above this life and this world not dally on our journey because of any earthly desire. If the day (of the contest), whether it be a day of homecoming, or a day of persecution, shall find us contesting, swift, ready, the Lord will not fail to give us the reward of our merits. In a time of peace, He will give those who have won a garland of white (lilies) for their good works; in a time of persecution He will join to it a purple one (of roses and violets) as a reward for their suffering. Amen." (St. Cyprian)

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