Saturday, May 27, 2017

God must always come first, and He must be served in Humility

St. Paul, the chosen vessel of God, a former persecutor of Christ worthy of conversion, worthy of praise in the Lord and now one of the great apostles, teaches us in his first letter to the Corinthians how spouses should live in marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:29-35 “This therefore I say, brethren; the time is short; it remaineth, that they also who have wives, be as if they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as if they used it not: for the fashion of this world passeth away. But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit: not to cast a snare upon you; but for that which is decent, and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord, without impediment.”

What St. Paul is saying here is that even those who are married should not place the love of their family or the pleasures or affections they have from them above God, but consider that all are dust and that One, and One only is to be loved above all else—Our Lord Jesus Christ.

When St. Paul mentions “that they also who have wives, be as if they had none”, he is speaking about how spouses must not place the carnal love they have for each other above their love for the Lord. St. Paul’s words are clear: The spouses must act as though they were not married (within due limits of course) since the married man “is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided.” This division of the married man makes it a great necessity that even married people should consider themselves in their own thought processes as though they are unmarried and chaste, although their external and physical marital duties hinders them from pursuing this endeavor to the fullest. As St. Paul says: “it remaineth, that they also who have wives, be as if they had none”.

One must obviously love all people as much as one can, but one must also remember that most people, however dear or near, often reject God and hinder one’s own spiritual advancement. The only one who will always remain true to us and that we know with a certainty will never become evil, is God, and with God, His angels and Saints in Heaven. But humans, however dear or near, often fall away from the truth and this rejection of God by our family or friends requires us to exclude them from our communion. Our Lord explicitly mentions that such acts are necessary sometimes.

Luke 18:29 “Amen, I say to you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive much more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”

Luke 14 gives us an even clearer example from the gospel which shows us that we must be able to renounce all association to our family or friends when necessity requires it.

Luke 14:26 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

Douay Rheims Commentary on Luke 14:26: “Hate not: The law of Christ does not allow us to hate even our enemies, much less our parents: but the meaning of the text is, that we must be in that disposition of soul, as to be willing to renounce, and part with every thing, how near or dear soever it may be to us, that would keep us from following Christ.”

Our Lord does not only teach us to follow this principle, but he also practiced what he taught himself. His deepest belonging was to the Father, the Father’s House, the Father’s concerns. This commitment would reverberate at later times, severing ultimate claims on Him of his closest family. In the presence of these and to their hearing, He would ask, “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he said: Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, that is in Heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” This, in His own life, was the moral authority to demand the same of all others, “You cannot serve two masters...”

Most spouses in this world undoubtedly commit a most grievous act of faithlessness against Our Lord when they love their spouse or the carnal love they derive from them more than God. Their treasure is sadly a most vile corpse that will rot and be eaten by worms in the grave. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34)

The Christian servant is one who, “risen with Christ, seeks the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God” and one who “minds the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols.” (Colossians 3:1-5)

Luke chapter 18 is another excellent example in the gospels of how Our Lord wants people to think in their own thought processes.

Luke 18:15-17 “And they brought unto him also infants, that he might touch them. Which when the disciples saw, they rebuked them. But Jesus, calling them together, said: Suffer children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Amen, I say to you: Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a child, shall not enter into it.”

Notice that Our Lord states that those who shall not receive the kingdom of God as a child, shall not be saved: “Amen, I say to you: Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a child, shall not enter into it.” What are the good virtues or characteristics of children that Our Lord refers to in this verse that men must have in order to be saved? There are obviously many virtues that children have but two of the most notable ones are purity, and humility, among many other virtues such as strong faith and trust. The first virtue that children are naturally endowed with is purity, and just like children, men must also be pure and chaste in their own thought processes in accordance with Our Lord’s words, even though some must fulfill their marital duties. All children are also humble in a way since they know that they know nothing compared to grown ups, and that they need to learn more in order to understand different things. Men and women should also think in the same way. They should humbly think that they know nothing, and that they need to learn more in order to understand different things. Until the moment of death, all men can learn more about God, goodness or other things conducive to spiritual growth. Every day is a new day with new opportunities to practice virtues of different kinds, like patience, kindness, purity, love of neighbor and God etc. However, whoever states the contrary, that is, that he already knows all, is a proud liar who attributes to himself God’s perfect knowledge.

Children also love their parents in many ways and desire their presence at all times. Children also frequently tend to express their love for their parents in different ways. For instance, it is not uncommon for children to simply walk up to their parents for no other purpose than to express their love for them, and say they love them. Children also have total childlike faith and confidence in their parents, firmly believing that they know what’s best for them. It is indeed by children that God wishes to teach us how we should act towards Him, and love Him. Even though we are grown ups and not as children, we should still act in our mind towards God as do small, defenseless children towards their own parents; that is, we should have the same desire, love, longing and confidence for Our God and Father in Heaven as do children for their parents. And just like children, we should admit our own utter dependance on Him, seeking His protection and Fatherly care, having childlike trust in Him, firmly believing that He will do what’s best for us and our salvation; and just like children, we are to feel a deep desire and longing for God as do small children for their parents, who simply cannot stop crying until they are embraced by them; and finally, just like children, we are by our prayers, meditations and thoughts to confidently walk up to God and tell Him how much we love Him.

Every one has two lives. The first life (which is the most important life) is the inner life of the soul, consisting for the most part of desires, thoughts and affections. The second life is the outer or external life made up of the daily actions of the visible life. The pitiful state of today’s humanity however, is that most people completely lack the inner life and because of this, they lose their immortal souls. How trivial indeed must not those small trifles and things seem for those lost souls who loved and desired earthly and perishable goods and pleasures more than they loved God when after a billion years in Hell have gone by in the smoke that smothers and suffocates their whole being, while the painful and tormenting fire that will never be quenched however much they plead with Our Lord to alleviate their torment, continues to torment them mercilessly!

Romans 6:3-6; 6:12-23 “Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that 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.
“… Let no sin therefore reign in your mortal body, so as to obey the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of iniquity unto sin; but present yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of justice unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are whom you obey, whether it be of sin unto death, or of obedience unto justice.
“But thanks be to God, that you were the servants of sin, but have obeyed from the heart, unto that form of doctrine, into which you have been delivered. Being then freed from sin, we have been made servants of justice. 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.”

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