Prayers for today: Redeem me, Lord, and have mercy on me; my foot is set on the right path, I worship you in the great assembly. (Psalm 25:11-12)
God our Father, teach us to find new life through penance. Keep us from sin, and help us live by your commandment of love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, . .
St. David of Wales (d. 589?)
David is the patron saint of Wales and perhaps the most famous of British saints. Ironically, we have little reliable information about him. It is known that he became a priest, engaged in missionary work and founded many monasteries, including his principal abbey in south-western Wales. Many stories and legends sprang up about David and his Welsh monks. Their austerity was extreme. They worked in silence without the help of animals to till the soil. Their food was limited to bread, vegetables and water. In about the year 550, David attended a synod where his eloquence impressed his fellow monks to such a degree that he was elected primate of the region. The episcopal see was moved to Mynyw, where he had his monastery (now called St. David's). He ruled his diocese until he had reached a very old age. His last words to his monks and subjects were: "Be joyful, brothers and sisters. Keep your faith, and do the little things that you have seen and heard with me." St. David is pictured standing on a mound with a dove on his shoulder. The legend is that once while he was preaching a dove descended to his shoulder and the earth rose to lift him high above the people so that he could be heard. Over 50 churches in South Wales were dedicated to him in pre-Reformation days.
The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke (6.36~38)
Jesus said to His disciples, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
(Homily by Fr. E. J. Tyler)
One of the many disputes that have arisen over revealed doctrine has concerned the results of the original Fall of man. The priest Pelagius (a contemporary of Augustine and Jerome), — himself troubled by Augustine’s (and others’) theology of divine grace — was accused of denying the doctrine of original sin. He was accused of teaching, in effect, that man could attain salvation by his own earnest efforts. Eventually Augustine summoned the Council of Carthage in 418 and condemned the teaching of Pelagius — and this condemnation was in due course accepted by the Church. Catholic doctrine insists on the Fall of man and his need of Christ’s redemption. He cannot be saved without the grace of Christ. However, subsequently the grand dispute concerned the extent of the depravity caused by the Fall. The Catholic Church insists that while man is profoundly wounded by the Fall he is not utterly deprived of goodness. To an extent, he can genuinely love. To an extent, he can be unselfish. But of course whatever be the natural capacity in fallen man to be good and loving, it is not sufficient to regain the full and saving friendship of God. For this there was needed the Sacrifice of Christ, the effects of which must be brought to each individual by the gift of the Holy Spirit. By himself man cannot soar towards God — he is like the bird that has been shot in the wing. While he is not by nature spiritually dead, he can only struggle along on the ground. So it is that while we see some striking displays of goodness and love in the world, all too often there are serious limits to it. It is vitiated by much self-seeking. There is a reluctance to be compassionate and merciful in practice. The practice of what we might call natural religion — that religion which naturally arises from the heart of man and which is distinct from revealed religion — is not notably charitable. It is not distinguished by concern for the needy and mercy towards the suffering. It is not especially forgiving. It is often very vengeful. It attains the level that we would expect of natural man.
Now, the religion revealed by Jesus Christ places love towards one’s neighbour and goodness towards others at the very centre of its practice. One’s level of true religion is measured by one’s level of practical love towards others. It does not replace one’s love for God and Christ, but it is the measure of it. This may be said to be a distinctive feature of revealed religion, and in the process it reveals what God is like. So much is God himself love, that he cannot accept a religion that is not loving towards those whom he himself loves. And who does God love with special predilection? God loves in a special sense those who are in need. He identifies with them, and absolutely insists that those who wish to serve and honour him must themselves put on the mind and heart that is his. That is to say we must aim to be compassionate, merciful and “good” to those in need. But of course, as was said earlier, we are profoundly wounded by the effects on our nature by the original Fall of man in sin. Of ourselves we cannot imitate the compassion and mercy of God towards others to the extent that is proper and necessary. We need to be redeemed and sanctified by the grace of Jesus Christ. By our own daily effort and most especially by having recourse to this grace, we can put on the mind of Christ and become more and more “religious” — united to God — in the sense intended by our all-loving and all-merciful Father. Thus it is that our Lord tells us in today’s Gospel “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:36-38). If we wish to love God we must love our neighbour, and for this reason the Christian saint is a person who is distinguished by his love for neighbour. Our Lord warns that in the final judgment whatever we do to the least, he will regard as having been done to him.
Let us never imagine that concern for our neighbour and in particular for the neediest of our neighbours, is but one fruit of religion, an incidental advantage that religion brings to society. Concern for neighbour is at the heart of revealed religion, and it is a principal moment or locale of the service of the unseen God. God identifies with the lowliest and the most needy, and if we wish to love him, we must love and serve the neediest. God will judge our love for him according to the measure of our love for our fellow man. Let us pray for the grace to get this right.