Her Doctrine and Morals

Sexagesima Sunday

31 January 2016


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Dear Friend,

St. Gregory informs us that there is no need to explain the meaning of today's Gospel. Jesus has explained the meaning of today's parable for us. All that is truly needed is for us to implement His teaching in our daily lives.

We must allow the seed, Word of God, to enter into our hearts and minds and take root there, so that It may produce fruit a hundred-fold. In our preparation for the penitential season of Lent, we need to examine the life of our souls. What kind of soil is our soul? What is necessary for us to do to prepare our souls to receive the seed of the Word of God, and produce worthy fruit?

Obviously, we must avoid turning our souls into highways which allow the world to pass through crushing underfoot, and allowing the devils to carry away, any and all the graces that we may chance to receive from God. We must remove the hard stones that receive the Word of God in rejoicing but never allow It to take root and grow. We must, also, tear out the thorns and weeds that choke out the very life of grace once It takes root.

Perhaps what may interest us, is what Our Lord tells us these thorns represent, spiritually. These choking thorns are the "cares and riches and pleasure of this life." There are few in this world that consider riches and pleasures of this life to be choking thorns; but this is exactly how Jesus sees them. This demonstrates, very clearly, that the Ways of God are very different than the ways of the world. What men consider good, God has told us are bad.

The riches and pleasures of this life are truly thorns that harm our souls. Not only do they cut and scratch us, they block out the light and take up all the moisture and nutrient, leaving very little left for the growth and development of our spiritual lives. The rich man finds it very difficult to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The rich young man went away sad because he had many possessions. (Mark 10, 22) It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matt. 19, 24) The rich man, Dives, was cast into Hell, while the poor man, Lazarus, was taken into Heaven. (Luke, 16, 19-31)

Riches often seduce us with promises of pleasure in this life. The promise of pleasure here and now is usually with the sacrifice of eternal pleasure in Heaven. Please recall that we said the "promise of pleasure." Riches seldom keep this promise, even in this life. Riches bring with them cares, solicitudes, worries, and many concerns, seldom allowing their possessor to have any rest or leisure. So it is often pointed out that men do not really own riches; but rather riches own the man. The rich of this world often are reduced to serving their possessions, rather than having their possessions serve them.

In this service of material wealth, little or no time is left for the service of God. Hence, many wealthy persons fail in their most important of all obligations — knowing, loving, and serving God. Riches have promised happiness, but they rather cause suffering; both in this life, and in the next.

Saint Paul would have us understand that these material blessings are only used well and serve their purpose in serving us as we serve God, when we use them as if we used them not. (1 Cor. 7, 29-31)

St. Gregory says: "The Lord, elsewhere, as another Evangelist bears witness (Mt. 13, 22), uses, not the word riches, but the deceitfulness of riches. For they are deceitful. They deceive because we may only have them for a time. They are deceitful because they do not relieve the real poverty of soul. Those riches are true riches, which enrich us in virtue. If then, Brethren, you desire to be truly rich, love the riches that are true. If you aim at the summit of true honor, strive upwards towards a heavenly kingdom. If you love the glory of great dignity, strive to be enrolled in the heavenly court of the angels."

The Words of God are true riches which we should treasure and hold onto. As we cannot hold onto both earthly treasures and heavenly treasures at the same time, we should readily and eagerly release the hold that we have on the material things, so that we can grasp ever more securely the spiritual treasures. Once we have opened up our grip on earthly things and let them go, our souls can then grasp spiritual things. This is the best method of preparing ourselves for the Lenten season. If we do well in letting go of the love of riches in our hearts now, we will find it much easier to find the time and the energy to perform our penances better. If we perform our penances well during the Lenten season, we will receive a greater abunance of graces (treasures) when we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord.

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