Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Practice Charity, And Everything Will Be Clean For You.

Today’s First Reading is taken from the Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1:16-25).

Paul speaks boldly about the gospel, because it is God’s message, through which the power of God touches every person, whether Jew or Gentile. In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed to his people, a righteousness that moves “from faith to faith” Through faith, a person accepts God’s promise to grant to the repentant sinner forgiveness for sin, and the graces necessary to live according to God’s will and to share that faith with others. Thus, is it written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).

Paul goes on to speak about “the wrath of God”. God’s wrath is not like human anger, which is typically petty and selfish. God’s wrath is like the anger of the judge when issuing a sentence (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). God’s wrath arises because some of his children have chosen to be wicked, which Paul equates with godlessness, since disobeying God’s law is denying God’s will, which is tantamount to denying God’s very existence.

What we can know of God is evident to the wicked as well as to the just, because God has made his presence visible since the creation of the world. The writer of Psalm 19 said, “The heavens tell out the glory of God; the vault of heaven reveals his handiwork.” Paul used this explanation when teaching the pagans at Lystra (Acts 14:15-27); he used the same imagery in speaking to the philosophers in Athens (Acts 17:24-29). Paul concludes, “There is no possible excuse for their conduct, for though they knew God, they did not according glory or give him thanks.” Although they claimed to be wise, they became foolish, exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images formed to look like mortal men, and birds, animals and reptiles.

“That is why God handed them over to the lustful desires of their own hearts, and to the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie; they worshiped and revered creatures rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”


Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 19

R. The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and their message to the ends of the world.

R. The heavens proclaim the glory of God.


Today’s gospel is taken from Luke (11:37-41):

After Jesus had finished speaking to the gathered crowd, one of the Pharisees invited him to have dinner at his home. When Jesus entered the hose, he immediately reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was taken about because Jesus did not first wash his hands. This ritual was a sign that the diners came to the table had been purified after being in the world outside. Jesus may have touched something or someone unclean, which would have made him unclean until he washed.

Jesus berated his host: “You Pharisees! You cleanse the outside of cups and dishes but, on the inside, you are greedy and evil. You fools, God made both the outside and the inside. Practice charity, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

+++ +++ +++ +++

Saint Augustine wrote: “There are many sorts of alms. What our Lord says, “Give alms, and everything will be clean for you”, applies to all practical deeds of mercy. It does not apply only to those who give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, hospitality to the traveller, or refuge to the fugitive. It also means, forgive the one who has offended you.”

In the Latin of Augustine, the verb “donare” is the root of the word “condonare”. This is true of other modern languages as well, not only those with Latin roots, but those with Germanic roots as well: English: give/forgive; German: geben/vergeben.

In almsgiving, the gift comes from without: the wallet, the purse, the bank account. In forgiveness, the gift can come only from within: from the heart. The inner source from which forgiveness flows must be a pure, untainted source. Cyril of Alexandria wrote, “Christ shows that those who sincerely serve God must be pure and clean from what is hidden in the mind.” If the source of your forgiveness is pure, neither your thoughts nor your actions will be tainted. Then, as Jesus said, “everything will be clean for you.”

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