Sunday, July 23, 2006

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
after "Devout Instructions" by Fr Goffine

In the Introit of the Mass the Church invites us to the praise of God in the following words: "Oh, clap your hands, all ye nations, shout unto God with the voice of joy, for the Lord is most high, He is terrible: He is great king over all the earth" (Ps. xlvi. 2,3). Glory be to the Father, etc.

O God, Whose providence never faileth in what it doth order, we humbly beseech Thee to put away from us all things hurtful, and to give us all things profitable to us. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc. Amen.

EPISTLE Rom. vi. 19-23
I speak an human thing, because of the infirmity of your flesh. For as you have yielded your members to serve uncleanness and iniquity, unto iniquity; so now yield your members to serve justice, unto sanctification. For when you were the servants of sin, you were free men to justice. What fruit therefore had you then in those things, of which you are now ashamed? For the end of them is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting. For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In these words St. Paul admonishes the Romans that they ought henceforward to devote themselves as zealously to the service of God as they had hitherto done to that of iniquity, because the service of sin is death, but the service of God is life everlasting. The words "servants, to serve," denote the full and unconditional subjection of the Christian to God, without walking any longer according to his own will, just as, in regard to the state of sin, they indicate the dominion of the passions over sinner. There is no requirements more reasonable than that a man should labour for God and his own salvation as he has laboured for sin and hell. We should, therefore, often think on the wages of sin - eternal death; and when we are tempted, ask ourselves, "What shall I gain by my lust, my injustice, my vengeance? Ah, nothing but eternal death! And shall I, created to inherit eternal life, shall I make myself the heir of eternal death?"

GOSPEL Matt. vii.15-21
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Who are meant by "false prophets"?
1. The worlds, which promises us honours and riches, but in the end rewards our toil and labour with disgrace and scorn. 2. The flesh, which promises pleasures and joys, but at last leaves nothing but the bitter reproaches of an unquiet conscience. 3. The devil, who promises us a long life, and time for repentance, while the obdurate sinner is cut off suddenly in the midst of his days. 4. All such evil-minded persons as conceal their wicked purposes under the mask of virtue and honesty, until they have entrapped unwary souls, and drawn them into all kinds of shameful misdeeds. It is these false prophets of Satan, and wolves of hell, that make the greatest havoc in the flock of Christ.
Why does Christ say, "every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cast into the fire"? He thereby warns us that faith alone, without good works, or, in other words, the mere desire for heaven without the practice of virtue, will not save us. Christ says plainly, "Not every one that says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of My Father Who is in heaven." Jesus also saith, "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father Who is in heaven, he is My brother, and sister, and mother" (Matt. xii. 50). Endeavour, therefore, O Christian, to fulfill in all things the will of God, and secure thy salvation by the exercise of good works.

What are good works?
All actions of men which are done according to the will of God, from love of Him, and by the help of grace.
Which are the principal good works?
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Prayer invluding all acts belonging to the service of God; fasting, all mortifications of the body; almsgiving, all works of mercy.
How many are the works of mercy?
Those which have for their object the salvation of our neighbour; as, 1. to admonish the sinner; 2. to instruct the ignorant; 3. to counsel the doubtful; 4. to comfort the prisoners; 5. to shelter the housless; 6. to visit the sick; 7. to bury the dead (Matt. xxv. 42, 43).
What is necessary to render works meritorious?
1. They must be good in themselves; 2. they must be done by the grace of God; 3. in the state of grace; 4. by free will; 5. with the good intention of pleasing God.
Can we be saved without good works?
No; for Christ says expressly, "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down and shall be cast into the fire." And that servant in the Gospel (Matt. xxv. 25) who neither wasted his talent nor yet traded with it, but digged into the earth and hid his lord's money, was therefore cast into the outer darkness