14th Sunday in OT [C] - St. Thomas Aquinas

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Isaiah 66:10-14  —  Gal 6:14-18  —  Luke 10:1-12,17-20
July 4, 2010
                        
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the Scriptures for this Sunday


Saint Thomas Aquinas’
commentary on Galatians 6:14-15
(excerpted and edited)


14a But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Saint Paul’s intention
And this is what he says: But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that where the worldly philosopher felt shame, there the Apostle found his treasure: what the former regarded as foolish became for the Apostle wisdom and glory, as Augustine says. For each person glories in that through which he is considered great. Thus a person who regards himself as great in his riches, glories in them; and so on for other things. For one who regards himself to be great in nothing but Christ glories in Christ alone. But the Apostle was such a one; hence he says: I live now not I; but Christ liveth in me [2:20].

Accordingly he glories in nothing but Christ and particularly in the Cross of Christ;

and this because in it are found all the things about which men usually glory.

For some glory in the friendship of the great, such as of kings and princes; and this friendship the Apostle found most of all in the Cross, because there an obvious sign of divine friendship is shown: But God commends his charity towards us; because when as yet we were sinners according to the time, Christ died for us [Romans 5:8]. For nothing shows His mercy to us as much as the death of Christ. Hence Gregory: “O inestimable love of charity! To redeem the servant, He delivered His Son.”

Again, some glory in knowledge; and of this the Apostle found a more excellent one in the cross: For I judged not myself to know anything among you but Jesus Christ and him crucified [1 Corinthians 2:2]. For in the Cross is the perfection of all law and the whole art of living well.

Again, some glory in power; and of this the Apostle found the highest form through the Cross: The word of the cross to them, indeed, that perish is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God [1 Corinthians 1:18].

Again, some glory in newly-found freedom; and this the Apostle obtained through the Cross: Our old man is crucified with him that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer [Romans 6:6].

Again, some glory in being accepted into some famous fellowship; but by the Cross of Christ, we are accepted into the heavenly ranks: Making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven [Colossians 1:20].

Again, some glory in the triumphal banners of conquest; but the Cross is the triumphal ensign of Christ’s conquest over the demons: And despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open show, triumphing over them in himself [Colossians 2:15]; Blessed is the wood by which justice cometh [Wisdom 14:7].

14b[our Lord Jesus Christ,] by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.

The sign of his own intention he shows, saying by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. But since this which he says, But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, is an exceptive proposition which includes one affirmative and one negative statement, he is really giving two signs that prove both statements.

First, he proves the negative one, namely, that he does not glory save in the cross. He does this when he says, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. For that in which a person glories is not dead in his heart, but rather that which he scorns: I am forgotten as one dead, from the heart [Psalm 30:13]. But it is plain that the world and all things in it were dead in the heart of Paul: I count all things as dung, that I may gain Christ [Philippians 3:8]. Therefore he does not glory in the world or in the things that are in the world. And this is what he says: Verily, I glory in nothing save in the cross of Christ, by whom, namely, Christ crucified, the world is crucified to me, i.e., is dead in my heart, so that I covet nothing in it.

Secondly, he proves the affirmative, namely, that he glories in the Cross of Christ, saying that he is crucified to the World. For a person who glories in something treasures it and desires to make it known; but the Apostle treasures nothing or desires to make nothing known except what pertains to the Cross of Christ; therefore, he glories in it alone. And this is what he says: and I to the world, namely, I am crucified. As if to say: I carry the marks of the Cross and I am considered as dead. Therefore, as the world abhors the Cross of Christ, so it abhors me: For you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God [Colossians 3:3].

15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but a new creature.

The reason why he glories in nothing else is given when he says, For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. Indeed, he glories mainly in that which avails and helps in joining him to Christ; for it is this the Apostle desires, namely, to be with Christ. And because the Jewish rite and the observances of the Gentiles are of no avail in this regard, but only the Cross of Christ, therefore he glories in it alone. And this is what he says: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision, i.e., the Jewish rite, nor uncircumcision, i.e., Gentile observances, availeth any thing, i.e., to justify us and join us to Christ, but a new creature availeth for us. This, indeed, is obvious from what was said above, in almost the same words: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision; but faith that worketh by charity [5:6].

Therefore, faith informed by charity is the new creature. For we have been created and made to exist in our nature through Adam, but that creature is already old. Therefore, the Lord in producing us and establishing us in the existence of grace has made a new creature: That we might be some beginning of his creature [James 1:18]. And it is called “new,” because by it we are reborn into a new life by the Holy Spirit—Thou shalt send forth thy spirit and they shall be created: and thou shalt renew the face I the earth [Psalm 103:30]—and by the Cross of Christ: If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new [2 Corinthians 5:17]. In this way, then, by a new creature, i.e., by the faith of Christ and the charity of God which has been poured out in our hearts, we are made new and are joined to Christ.


14th Sunday in OT [C] - First Reading


Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Isaiah 66:10-14    Gal 6:14-18    Luke 10:1-12,17-20
July 4, 2010

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the Scriptures for this Sunday


brief reflection on Sunday’s First Reading
Isaiah 66:10-14

Jerusalem is the focus of the First Reading.  Listening to this passage through the historical-critical method, we could consider Isaiah’s prophecy from a literal perspective, and imagine the city of Jerusalem, capital of Israel, enjoying a material prosperity that overflows into the lives of her children and, indeed, all who love her.

However, interpreting this passage also according to the three spiritual senses, we can see Jerusalem as symbolic.  Through these spiritual senses, God the Holy Spirit speaks to each of us today.

The first spiritual sense is the allegorical.  Jerusalem foreshadows Jesus Christ.  We are reminded of how the wealth of the nations was brought before the infant Jesus in the persons of the three magi.  Yet material wealth is itself symbolic of a greater good:  namely, spiritual wealth.  For in Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Colossians 2:3].

As the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, the allegorical sense of Scripture extends to her, also.  The diverse members of the Body of Christ are brought together in love, to have all the richness of fully assured understanding, for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ [Colossians 2:3].  Each of us today, then, enjoys the spiritual riches of Christ through our participation in His Church.  That is to say that each of us is invited into the fullness of His riches through his or her vocation. 

Our readings this Sunday continue to focus our attention on the vocation of being a Christian.

14th Sunday in OT [C] - Office of Readings


Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Isaiah 66:10-14    Gal 6:14-18    Luke 10:1-12,17-20
July 4, 2010

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the Scriptures for this Sunday

                             
Office of Readings
From a sermon by Saint Augustine

A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit
                                                                     
I acknowledge my transgression, says David [Psalm 50:5]. If I admit my fault, then you will pardon it. Let us never assume that if we live good lives we will be without sin; our lives should be praised only when we continue to beg for pardon. But men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others. This was not the way that David showed us how to pray and make amends to God, when he said: I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me [ibidem]He did not concentrate on others’ sins; he turned his thoughts on himself. He did not merely stroke the surface, but he plunged inside and went deep down within himself. He did not spare himself, and therefore was not impudent in asking to be spared.
                                                               
Do you want God to be appeased? Learn what you are to do that God may be pleased with you. Consider the psalm again: If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight [Psalm 50:18]. Are you then to be without sacrifice? Are you to offer nothing? Will you please God without an offering? Consider what you read in the same psalm: If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight [ibidem]. But continue to listen, and say with David: A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart [Psalm 50:19]. Cast aside your former offerings, for now you have found out what you are to offer. In the days of your fathers you would have made offerings of cattle – these were the sacrifices. If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it. These then, Lord, you do not want, and yet you do want sacrifice.
                                                                                                                                                        
You will take no delight in burnt offerings, David says. If you will not take delight in burnt offerings, will you remain without sacrifice? Not at all. A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart.

You now have the offering you are to make. No need to examine the herd, no need to outfit ships and travel to the most remote provinces in search of incense. Search within your heart for what is pleasing to God. Your heart must be crushed. Are you afraid that it might perish so? You have the reply: Create a clean heart in me, O God [Psalm 50:12]. For a clean heart to be created, the unclean one must be crushed.
                                                                                                               
We should be displeased with ourselves when we commit sin, for sin is displeasing to God. Sinful though we are, let us at least be like God in this, that we are displeased at what displeases him. In some measure then you will be in harmony with God’s will, because you find displeasing in yourself what is abhorrent to your Creator.


13th Sunday in OT [C] - Reflection


Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
I Kings 19:16, 19-21    Gal 5:1, 13-18    Luke 9:51-62
June 27, 2010

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the Scriptures for this Sunday


reflection from Father Hoisington

The other day, over a meal with other priests, the topic of cell phones ringing during Mass came up.  One priest told how, one Sunday, an elderly man answered his cell phone and proceeded, in his pew, to carry on an extended conversation.  Sadly, none of us were surprised by this story.  Most likely, you’ve had a similar experience yourself.

But what if every one of us, as Christians, was willing to take a call from God just as seriously?  What if you were willing to answer a call from God—no matter where you were, and no matter what else you were doing—in order to carry on a conversation with God?

Unfortunately, most of us are not so willing.  When it come to being ready for God’s call, some of us have the cell phone set on silent mode:  we never hear it ring.  Some of us hear God calling, but we check the Caller ID, and see that it reads “God the Father”, so we let it go to voice mail.  Some of us answer, but then we do all the talking, so God’s voice is never heard.

Let me suggest a strategy to follow regarding God’s call.  This strategy has three steps, distilled from today’s Scripture readings.  The great thing about this strategy is that it applies to all different sorts of calls from God.  Usually, when we hear the phrase “God’s call”, we only think of God calling young men to be priests, or young women to be nuns.  But the fact is, God calls in many other ways as well.  In terms of vocations, God also calls a man and woman to unite in Holy Matrimony.

However, God’s calls are not limited to vocations.  Both before and after God calls you to the vocation of Marriage, Religious Life, or Priesthood, He will call you in many other ways, big and small, to serve Him and His holy Will.  Perhaps there is a serious problem in your extended family?  Perhaps a parish committee needs a new volunteer?  Perhaps in your workplace, there’s some small injustice that needs someone to speak up?  There are many, many possibilities, large and small, but when God wants you to respond to such a need, you can use these three steps.  The three steps are:  (1) ears open; (2) pick up; (3) take a message.

The first step is:  ears open.  Expect God to call you.  God calls each and every Christian many times in his life, in ways big and small.  The person who doesn’t believe that God would ever call him is usually the person who has had his ears closed for so long, that he thinks the line has been disconnected.  This, in turn, leads a person to think that God doesn’t want to be a part of one’s life.  The remedy is to keep our ears open, especially by closing our ears to the useless noise that surrounds us.  The virtue of patience is also needed in this first step, because God’s call doesn’t always come according to our own personal time-table.

The second step is:  pick up.  Of course, before we can pick up, we usually have to put down.  For example, if you’re reading a magazine when the phone rings, you have to put down the magazine in order to pick up the phone.  This is true not just physically, but mentally as well.  Our age is an age of multi-tasking, but it’s no coincidence that our age is also so very shallow.  The more divided our attention, the less attention we can give to each object or person who asks for our attention, including God.

Once we are able to pick up, we have to be willing to pick up.  Often we are afraid to answer the call as it rings, because we know that God can be so demanding:  He can even ask for our whole life!  We know instinctively that every call that God makes is in the form of the Cross.  But we should be mindful that whenever God calls, He also offers you the grace needed to fulfill that call.

The third step is:  take a message.  You need to take a message… not because the call is for someone else… but because each of us needs a written reminder of what God has said.  This is meant literally:  have a notebook, journal, or something similar that you can use to record what you perceive God asking of you in prayer.  It’s true that sometimes, we do not perceive God’s voice accurately.  However, recording even our perceptions helps us, over time, and with the assistance of grace and works of penance, to hone our ability to perceive God correctly.

Writing down these words helps us understand the reality of what God is asking from us.  If we leave such messages to our memory, it’s easy to let them “slip” to the back of our attention, and eventually to overlook them altogether.  The act of writing down God’s call raises our level of accountability.


13th Sunday in OT [C] - Gospel Reading


Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
I Kings 19:16, 19-21    Gal 5:1, 13-18    Luke 9:51-62
June 27, 2010

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the Scriptures for this Sunday


brief exegesis of the Gospel Reading
Luke 9:51-62

Sunday’s Gospel passage can be divided into six parts:  an introduction, and five dialogues.  The introduction— When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem…. ―sets the stage for the dialogues by highlighting Jesus’ acceptance of the Cross (remember that Jesus’ determination follows soon after His prediction of His Passion, and His proclamation that if anyone wishes to come after Him, he must deny himself and take up his cross… [Luke 9:23]).

The first two dialogues of these five are conflicts, resulting from the fact that Jesus sent messengers ahead of him.  The first conflict is between the messengers and the Samaritans, who reject Jesus because Jerusalem is His goal.  Since the city of Jerusalem is literally the “Abode of Peace” (that is, the peace which Jesus reveals as only coming from His Cross), this rejection symbolizes those who reject the Good News of the Cross announced by His messengers, including His disciples today.  The second conflict pits two of Jesus’ disciples (later apostles!) against Jesus Himself, as a consequence of the first conflict.  This second conflict poses the question of how to respond when those in the world to whom we proclaim the Good News reject us.  The disciples want to use violence, but Jesus rebukes them for this suggestion, and teaches by His example that the fitting response is to shake the dust from one’s feet and proceed elsewhere.

The last two dialogues of these five are each between Jesus and an individual.  To each, Jesus offers a mild rebuke.  Both had asked Jesus to let them perform what seem sensible and even charitable actions.  Nonetheless, Jesus rejects their requests.  He demands that discipleship be their true priority.

The middle dialogue of these five sets the standard.  The nameless individual—who could be you or I—says simply to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”  We can imagine that this is the reaction to His journey that Jesus was looking for.  This is the true mark of discipleship.  Jesus’ response is certainly not a rebuke, but it’s not quite an affirmation, either.  Jesus clarifies and amplifies the radicality of heading towards the Cross:  “…the Son of Man [and thus also, His disciple] has nowhere to rest his head.”

13th Sunday in OT [C] - Fr. Barron & Scott Hahn


Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
I Kings 19:16, 19-21    Gal 5:1, 13-18    Luke 9:51-62
June 27, 2010

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the Scriptures for this Sunday


Dr. Scott Hahn
In this week’s First Reading, Elijah’s disciple is allowed to kiss his parents goodbye before setting out to follow the prophet’s call.  But we are called to follow a greater than Elijah, this week’s Liturgy wants us to know.
click on the picture of Dr. Hahn to link
to his audio and written reflection


Father Robert Barron
Freedom is not self-determination, but finding and doing what God wants you to do. Biblical figures did not choose their God-given role; God chose it for them. Thus, in order for us to fulfill our mission perfectly we have to get rid of all obstacles to freely following Christ. This means that we have to get rid of all that prevents us from perfectly loving God, neighbor, and self.
click on the picture of Father Barron
to link to his audio reflection


13th Sunday in OT [C] - Second Reading


Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
I Kings 19:16, 19-21    Gal 5:1, 13-18    Luke 9:51-62
June 27, 2010
         
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the Scriptures for this Sunday
  
brief exegesis of Sunday’s Second Reading
Galatians 5:1, 13-18

We often water down our Christian Faith.  We blithely speak of “serving others” when explaining that—for example—we spent a few hours helping the homeless in a shelter, or doing the dishes for one’s family, or stuffing the parish bulletin at the church office.  Are these examples not true forms of Christian service and stewardship?  They certainly can be, if they are motivated by, carried out through, and aiming toward… divine love:  caritas.  Serve one another through love [Galatians 5:13].

Freedom is a means to an end, rather than an end unto itself.  Freedom is a means towards the end of divine love, which for Christians is carried out concretely when we serve one another.  But if we don’t understand what type of love Saint Paul is preaching about here, we won’t understand what type of service he is preaching about.

Serving others for an hour here or there, giving twenty dollars now and again, or sharing this or that talent whenever a need arises has to be rooted in something deeper.  Service of the hour has to be rooted in slavery of the self:  not slavery to the self, but slavery of the self.

When Saint Paul preaches about gratifying the desire of the flesh, he is talking about slavery to the self, which he calls the yoke of slavery.  On the other hand, slavery of the self is submission of one’s entire self to God the Holy Spirit:  not an hour of my time, but my whole lifetime; not a single bill from my wallet, but everything I have; not a talent, but all my sweat, blood and tears.  The yoke of slavery must be exchanged for the vocation to serve one another through love.

From this personal submission comes the guidance of the Holy Spirit about how best to use the hours that I have this week, or the money that I have this month, or the talents that God has given me in this life.


13th Sunday in OT [C] - St. Thomas Aquinas


Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
I Kings 19:16, 19-21    Gal 5:1, 13-18    Luke 9:51-62
June 27, 2010

click on the image above to read
the Scriptures for this Sunday


commentary on Galatians 5:13-15
(excerpted and edited)
13  For you, brethren, have been called unto liberty. Only make not liberty an occasion to the flesh; but by charity of the spirit serve one another.

The state of liberty
… the condition of any given state pertains either to liberty or to bondage; but the state of faith in Christ, to which the Apostle urges [the Galatians], pertains to liberty and is liberty itself. Hence he says: For you, brethren, have been called unto liberty.  This is as if to say: They are indeed troubling you; for they are drawing you from what is better to what is worse, because you have been called by God unto the liberty of grace: You have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons (Romans 8:15);  We are not the children of the bondwoman but of the free (Galatians 4:31).  You, I say, who are free in Christ, they want to lead into bondage.

The abuse of liberty
But a state is being misused if it declines; for example, if liberty of the spirit is perverted into slavery of the flesh. Now the Galatians were free of the Law; but lest they suppose this to be a license to commit sins forbidden by the Law, the Apostle touches on abuse of liberty, saying, Only make not liberty an occasion to the flesh. This is as if to say: You are free, but not so as to misuse your liberty by supposing that you may sin with impunity: But take heed, lest perhaps this your liberty become a stumbling-block to the weak (1 Corinthians 8:9).

The modus operandi of liberty
Now the mode of standing [in liberty] is through charity; hence he says: but by charity of the spirit serve one another. In fact the whole state consists in charity, without which a man is nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1 ff.). Moreover, it is according to the various degrees of charity that various states are distinguished. Consequently, the state of grace does not exist in virtue of a desire of the flesh but by charity of the spirit; that is, a charity which proceeds from the Holy Spirit, through Whom we should be subject to and serve one another: Bear ye one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2); With honor preventing one another (Romans 12:10).
                                                                          
But since he said earlier that they have been called unto liberty, why does he now say, serve one another? I answer that charity requires that we serve one another; nevertheless, it is free. Here one might interject that, as the Philosopher [that is, Aristotle] says that he is free who is for his own sake; whereas he is a slave who is for the sake of another as of a mover or an end. For a slave is moved to his work not by himself but by a master and for the benefit of his master. Charity, therefore, has liberty as its cause, because it works of itself:  The charity of Christ presses us spontaneously, to work (2 Corinthians 5:14). But it is a servant when, putting one’s own interests aside, it devotes itself to things beneficial to the neighbor.

14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

The explanation of liberty:
the benefit of fulfilling charity
Now the benefit we obtain in fulfilling charity is of the highest order, because in it we fulfill the whole law; hence he says, For all the law in fulfilled in one word. This is as if to say: Charity must be maintained, because the whole law is fulfilled in one word, namely, in the one precept of charity: He that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8) and Love is the fulfillment of the law (Galatians 13:10). Wherefore he says in 1 Timothy (1:5): The end of the commandment is charity.

However, it is said in Matthew (22:40): On these two commandments, namely, of the love of God and of neighbor, depend the whole law and the prophets. Therefore, it is not fulfilled in the one precept alone. I answer that in the love of God is included love of neighbor: This commandment we have from God, that he, who loveth God, love also his brother (1 John 4:21). Conversely, we love our neighbor for the love of God. Consequently, the whole law is fulfilled in the one precept of charity. For the precepts of the law are reduced to that one precept.

Indeed, precepts are either moral or ceremonial or judicial. The moral are the precepts of the Decalogue: three concern the love of God, and the other seven the love of neighbor. The judicial are, for example, that whosoever steals anything shall restore fourfold, and others like this; and they pertain absolutely to the love of neighbor. The ceremonial concern sacrifices and related matters which are reduced to love of God. And so it is plain that all are fulfilled in the one precept of charity, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, which is also written in Leviticus (19:18).

He says, as thyself, not “as much as thyself,” because according to the order of charity a man should love himself more than his neighbor. Now this is explained in three ways: First, as referring to the genuineness of the love. For to love is to will good to someone: hence we are said to love both the one to whom we will a good and the very good which we will to someone; but not in the same way. For when I will a good to myself, I love myself absolutely for myself, but the good which I will to myself, I do not love for itself but for myself. Accordingly, I love my neighbor as myself in the same way that I love myself, when I will him a good for his sake, and not because it is useful or pleasant for me.

In a second way, as referring to the justice of love. For each thing is inclined to want for itself that which is most eminent in it; but in man, understanding and reason are the most eminent. He, therefore, loves himself who wants for himself the good of understanding and reason. Accordingly, you then love your neighbor as yourself, when you will him the good of understanding and reason.

In a third way, as referring to order, i.e., that just as you love yourself for the sake of God, so you love your neighbor for the sake of God, namely, that he may attain to God.

15  But if you bite and devour one another; take heed you be not consumed one of another.

The explanation of liberty:
the injury from neglecting charity
Then when he says, But if you bite and devour one another, take heed you be not consumed one of another, he urges them to follow charity, because of the harm we incur if we neglect it. Here he continues to speak to the Galatians as to spiritual men, not bringing up their greater vices but mentioning ones that seem to be minor, such as sins of the tongue. Hence he says: If you bite and devour one another, take heed you be not consumed one of another. That is as if to say: All the law is fulfilled in love; but if you bite one another, i.e., partially destroy the good name of your neighbor by slander (for one who bites takes not the whole but a part) and devour, i.e., destroy his good name entirely, and completely shame him by slander (for he that devours, consumes all): Detract not one another, my brethren; he that detracts his brother detracts the law (James 4:11). If you neglect charity in that way, I say, take heed for the calamity that threatens you, namely, you might be devoured one of another:  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision (Philippians 3:2); I have spent my strength without cause and in vain (Isaiah 49:4). For as Augustine says, by the vice of contention and envy, pernicious rivalries are bred among men, and both life and society are thereby brought to ruin.


The parish I serve

<b>The parish I serve</b>
St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Colwich, Kansas (Diocese of Wichita)