OF LENT: DO GOOD AND AVOID EVIL (Cor
X 1-6; 12)
The Jews did not profit from
the wonders God worked for them in the desert; and we, Christians,
are, likewise, not profiting from the baptism and sharing of the
bread and wine. The Jews "ate manna and drank from
the water," shadows of the Mysteries of the water and
wine. But they proved to be unworthy of those gifts.
Although God honored them with such great gifts, ". . .with
most of them He was not well pleased: it profiteth them
nothing . . .all of them perished. . ." because they did not
show forth the fruits of love.
St. Paul reminds the first
Christians of things past rather than things in the future:
"If you disbelieve the things to come, yet surely the things
that are past ye will not disbelieve," so Paul reminds them of
what happened to the unbelieving Jews. That, in the past, God
always punished the Jews when they sinned in spite of the
innumerable gifts He had bestowed on them.
God rained wonders on the Jews; the
Jews should have shown signs they were worthy. . .through a reformed
way of life, a life of obedience to His commands. But since
they showed none of these, God did not spare them but destroyed them
with a double vengeance; firstly, they did not enter the land
promised to them and, secondly, they were severely
The Jews went wrong when they began
desiring seemingly innocent things, like the meat of Egypt.
There is nothing wrong with meat; but when you would rather eat meat
than do God's will, you have opened yourself to the greatest
sins. Thus, desiring the flesh pots of Egypt, the Jews fell
into desiring or lusting for evil things. From this sin of
sensuality, they gradually regressed to idolatry. And IDOLATRY
is described thus: ". . .the people sat down to eat and
to drink and rose up to dance." Which makes our age the
most idolatrous since eating, drinking and dancing are very common
Pride and carelessness makes us
fall. Be not, therefore, "high-minded at thy standing. .
.he who thinks he is standing. . ." for all of us are not even
Stand up and arise; and do good;
bear each other's defects, give alms, pray earnestly, accuse thy own
sins, be sorrowful for your sins, suffer hardships and evil nobly,
take pity on orphans and widows. God is a merciful God; from
the servant who owed Him 10,000 talents, God required merely that he
fall down on his knees. In the case of the prodigal son,
He merely required that he return home. And for the lost
sheep, He merely asked that it be willing to be borne on the
shoulder of the Good Shepherd.
O Christian soul, who of us,
condemned with a thousand deaths, if given the choice of freedom for
a very small amount, would not most willingly pay the amount for our
life? Yet many of us would rather die a thousand deaths
spiritually than give up any of our property. Many of us make
light of our salvation by being sparing of our almsgiving.
This is like asking God to have mercy on you while you yourself have
no mercy on yourself; it is like asking God to spare when you do not
St. John Chrysostom, "On Cor."