THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
7 February 2016
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St Paul, in the epistle for today, extols the praises of charity. Without charity all our actions are without any merit or value. As we prepare to enter into the Lenten season, we must realize that charity must animate all our prayers, sacrifices, and penances. God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9, 7) If love does not give life to our actions, they are worthless for the obtaining of the reward of Heaven. If our hearts are not in our actions of penance, there is no real penance or sacrifice. If we perform them from rote, or by habit, or are simply compelled to do them by our peers or custom; we are deceiving ourselves. We must willingly and cheerfully put our hearts and souls into this season of sacrifice.
Jesus made plain His desire to offer Himself in sacrifice. He spoke openly to the Disciples of His coming Sacrifice and His desire to go up to Jerusalem so that this can be accomplished. The Disciples were blind to these words of Jesus. Spiritually, they were more blind than the blind man was physically. The blind man knew he was blind, he felt his burden very keenly. This blind man, therefore, cried out to Jesus for help and could not be silenced by any man. The Disciples did not understand that they were spiritually blind, and so they did not cry out to Jesus to have their eyes opened. Therefore, they continued in their spiritual blindness. It was not until after all the things that Jesus had predicted had taken place; that the disciples remembered these things.
We understand that the Sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross is what Jesus was foretelling in today's Gospel. There is another sacrifice that is implied here, that is the sacrifice that the disciples were going to have to make as they witnessed all these things taking place. It was truly a great penance to have Jesus taken away from them, assaulted, and killed. It was their love for Jesus that made this a most painful sacrifice, but it was also this love that made it bearable. The sacrifice of the Disciples was transformed for them, simply because they loved. The one Apostle, whose heart was not filled with charity, found the Sacrifice of Jesus unbearable, and became a suicide. Even Saint Peter was weak and flinched at the sacrifice that was required of him, but because he had charity in his heart, he was able to embrace this sacrifice in bitter tears of repentance. He, too, cried out like the blind man in today's Gospel and was heard by Jesus; he, too, was healed. The love in his heart instilled and kept alive faith, and this faith made him whole.
Our Holy Mother the Church is instructing us in the same way that Jesus instructed His disciples. We are told about the Sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross which we are recalling during the Lenten season. We are also being reminded of the sacrifices that we must make and to unite our sacrifices with His. We have no cause to be blind as the disciples were, but we should rather have our blindness removed through faith, as the man in the Gospel did. We should, therefore, enter into this season of penance with our eyes wide open. We must embrace the penances and sacrifices that are demanded of us, in all charity.
It is necessary that our souls should be moved in loving compassion, as we behold the suffering of Jesus Christ for our sins. We should see our own personal sins as the cause of His suffering and death; and be filled with remorse. Our hearts should ache just at the thought of the cruel and bitter death that an Innocent Jesus suffered; but that sadness in our souls needs to be further expanded because it is our own sins that have done this to Him.
We are given the opportunity, not to alleviate the suffering we have caused Him, but rather the chance to join Him. He has unconditionally invited all who will be His disciples to take up their own personal crosses daily and come follow Him.
Love seeks not only sympathy, but also empathy with those whom we love. Jesus gives us this opportunity in our daily crosses; and even more-so during the season of Lent. We should be entering this season of penance and mortification with willing and eager hearts. We cannot take away or lessen the suffering we have caused Him, but we may join Him in this sacrifice, and thus be united in suffering and sacrifice through love. Filled with love, there is nothing else that we should be desirous of doing, especially during this Lenten season.
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