THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
30 September 2018
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St. Augustine informs us that there are two different feasts that we are invited to. Here on earth, there is a feast in the Holy Catholic Church to which both the good and the bad are invited. The servants were sent out to bring in everyone so that the supper would be filled. In another parable, Jesus informs us that the good and the bad, like the wheat and the weeds, are permitted to grow together until the harvest. In the Kingdom of Heaven, there is an eternal feast to which only the good will be permitted. We are told that nothing stained can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Every one of us has some of the good and some of the bad within us. We are clean but not all clean. We have been called to enter the Church and have been washed clean in the Sacrament of Baptism, but we have since fallen into sin. No one here on earth is impeccable. We must constantly strive for holiness and union with God. Therefore, must also strive to cast out all our sins all that is bad within us. We are to increase the virtues and eliminate the vices in our lives.
The wedding garment is something spiritual a quality of the heart or soul. We draw this conclusion because the servants did not notice this man without the proper garment. If the garment was something external, the servants would have noticed and spoken up before the Master entered. It was only the Lord who could see into this man's heart and discover that he did not have the proper disposition to be there. The Fathers of the Church tell us that this wedding garment is the virtue of charity.
We can have many virtues yet be lacking in charity (the wedding garment). St. Paul informs us that if we had faith so as to move mountains but do not have charity, our faith is nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2) Likewise, with any other grace or virtue, we may obtain they are all as nothing without the virtue of charity.
The bad man that was cast out was one man, but he represented the many. Jesus tells us that "many are called but few are chosen." The virtue of charity is only truly found in the few, most will be found to be lacking. This is something that we need to seriously consider. It is not enough to say that we have faith and we have been baptized. It is not enough to point to this or that good trait that we see or think we see in ourselves. We must remember that without the wedding garment of charity all these things are as nothing. It is only true charity that gives them any value.
Many often imagine that they have charity and say within themselves that they love God, yet they harbor hatred for their neighbor. If we cannot love our neighbor whom we can see, how can we say we love God Whom we cannot see? (1 John 4:20) In a similar manner, we cannot claim to love our neighbor if we do not love God. There is a definite order or progression that must be in place concerning the virtue of charity. We must love God first and foremost with our whole being, then we must love ourselves, and lastly, we must love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Mark 12:31)
If we keep the commandments of God we can have some confidence that we love God. "If you love Me you will keep My Word." (John 14:15) If we desire to be eternally happy with God in Heaven, we can truly hope that we love ourselves correctly. That is, we love ourselves for or in the love of God. Next, if we desire the same eternal happiness for our fellow men, then we truly love them. Affection for another is not yet love of neighbor. Agreement or cooperation in sin or evil is not mutual love. The world often presents us with imitations of love of neighbor, but we must remember that true love of neighbor is found in desiring and/or working for his true and eternal happiness with God in Heaven.
This charity is often stained or tainted as long as we are on this earth, even while we are present in the first Supper of the Catholic Church. It is only made perfect in the Supper in Heaven. Until that time, we need to seek out that which is not good in us and bind it hand and foot and cast it out into the darkness far from us. We need to constantly strive to remove all sins from our lives so that we may advance in grace and virtue. And we must not look back to the sins we have left behind. Those who look back are not worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. (Luke 9:62) In purging the stains on our wedding garments of charity, our love becomes purer and more like Jesus and therefore more pleasing to Him. All the other good in us then takes on true value. These were nothing without charity, but they become everything with it.
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