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The Jews were baptized in the same cloud and sea; they ate the same spiritual meat; they drank the same spiritual drink. . .but, with most of them, God was not well-pleased.  For us Catholics, the lesson is clear--though Baptism and the Mass are great gifts, they are useless unless we show forth a life worthy of these graces.  The Jews were given countless precious gifts, but they proved themselves unworthy of them.  God loved them and honoured them; but they did not show forth the fruits of love.  That is why God destroyed them by a sweeping destruction and punished them with a double vengeance (they were punished and they were denied what was promised them.)

The lesson for us is clear. . .those who are unworthy shall be punished.  And how do we become worthy?  "We should not lust after evil things, for all evil things arise from evil lusting."  "Do not be idolaters."  And who are the idolaters?  Watch the answer:  ". . .those who sat down to eat and to drink and rose up to play."  Gluttony makes people idolaters.  Lust and idolatry are caused by gluttony and luxury.  "Nether let us commit fornication."  Neither let us tempt Christ." 

"Do not murmur."  For what is required of you is not only to suffer, but to suffer nobly and with all gladness. You must suffer this way, for punishment will attend men who take calamities with a bad grace.  Thus, the apostles rejoiced when beaten, and Paul glorified in his suffering. 

"Now these things happened unto them by way of example and they were written for our admonition upon whom the end of the ages are come."  That we will suffer is certain;  that our sufferings and punishments will be severe in accordance with our numerous blessings is also evident.  And the thought of the END TIMES must give us fear because the punishment is eternal while the punishment NOW is temporary. 

"Therefore, let him that thinketh he stands, because he has studied much, take heed lest he falls."  The Jews fell because they thought they were standing; others fell just because they murmured.  St. Paul feared; all the more must we fear since most of us are not even standing, for we are sinners. 

Let us all rise, though late. . .no matter if the wound is severe; for our Physician is good.  Do good; avoid being angry with your neighbours so your sins will be forgiven.  Give alms so that the Father will remit your sins; pray earnestly that you may be forgiven.  If you accuse yourself of your own sins, you will be released; if you are sorrowful because of your sinful state, this will heal you. And if you nobly suffer evil, you will be comforted.  If you take pity on widows, yours sins shall be washed away. 

For in the case of the servant who owed 10,000 talents, God was content that he fall down on his knees; for the Prodigal son who squandered his father's inheritance, his return was sufficient.  For the lost sheep, just the willingness to be carried on His shoulders.    

St. John Chrysostom, On the Gospels




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