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To: All

From: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

The Ministry of Reconciliation (Continuation)


[20] So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We
beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. [21] For our sake he
made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righ-
teousness of God.

St Paul, a True Servant of Christ


[1] Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of
God in vain. [2] For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and
helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold,
now is the day of salvation.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

18-21. The reconciliation of mankind with God—whose friendship we lost through
original sin—has been brought about by Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus, who
is like men in all things “yet without sinning” (Heb 4:14), bore the sins of men (cf.
Is 53:4-12) and offered himself on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for all those
sins (cf. 1 Pet 2:22-25), thereby reconciling men to God; through this sacrifice
we became the righteousness of God, that is, we are justified, made just in
God’s sight (cf. Rom 1:17; 3:24-26 and notes). The Church reminds us of this
in the rite of sacramental absolution: “God, the Father of mercies, through the
death and resurrection of his son has reconciled the world to himself [...].”

Our Lord entrusted the Apostles with this ministry of reconciliation (v. 18), this
“message of reconciliation” (v. 19), to pass it on to all men: elsewhere in the
New Testament it is described as the “message of salvation” (Acts 13:26), the
“word of grace” (Acts 14:3; 20:32), the “word of life” ( 1 Jn 1: 1). Thus, the Apos-
tles were our Lord’s ambassadors to men, to whom St Paul addresses a pres-
sing call: “be reconciled to God”, that is, apply to yourselves the reconciliation
obtained by Jesus Christ—which is done mainly through the sacraments of Bap-
tism and Penance. “The Lord Jesus instituted in his Church the sacrament of
Penance, so that those who have committed sins after Baptism might be recon-
ciled with God, whom they have offended, and with the Church itself whom they
have injured” (Bl. John Paul II, “Aperite Portas”, 5).

21. “He made him to be sin”: obviously St Paul does not mean that Christ was
guilty of sin; he does not say “to be a sinner” but “to be sin”. “Christ had no sin,”
St Augustine says; “he bore sins, but he did not commit them” (”Enarrationes
in Psalmos”, 68, 1, 10).

According to the rite of atoning sacrifices (cf. Lev 4:24; 5:9; Num 19:9; Mic 6:7;
Ps 40:7) the word “sin”, corresponding to the Hebrew “asam”, refers to the ac-
tual act of sacrifice or to the victim being offered. Therefore, this phrase means
“he made him a victim for sin” or “a sacrifice for sin”. It should be remembered
that in the Old Testament nothing unclean or blemished could be offered to God;
the offering of an unblemished animal obtained God’s pardon for the transgres-
sion which one wanted to expiate. Since Jesus was the most perfect of victims
offered for us, he made full atonement for all sins. In the Letter to the Hebrews,
when comparing Christ’s sacrifice with that of the priests of the Old Testament,
it is expressly stated that “every priest stands daily at his service, offering re-
peatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ
had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand
of God, then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet. For
by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb
10:11-14).

This concentrated sentence also echoes the Isaiah prophecy about the sacrifice
of the Servant of Yahweh; Christ, the head of the human race, makes men sha-
rers in the grace and glory he achieved through his sufferings: “upon him was the
chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5).

Jesus Christ, burdened with our sins and offering himself on the cross as a sacri-
fice for them, brought about the Redemption: the Redemption is the supreme ex-
ample both of God’s justice—which requires atonement befitting the offense—and
of his mercy, that mercy which makes him love the world so much that “he gave
his only Son” (Jn 3:16). “In the Passion and Death of Christ—in the fact that the
Father did not spare his own Son, but ‘for our sake made him sin’—absolute jus-
tice is expressed, for Christ undergoes the Passion and Cross because of the
sins of humanity. This constitutes even a ‘superabundance’ of justice, for the sins
of man are ‘compensated for’ by the sacrifice of the Man-God. Nevertheless, this
justice, which is properly justice ‘to God’s measure’, springs completely from love,
from the love of the Father and of the Son, and completely bears fruit in love. Pre-
cisely for this reason the divine justice revealed in the Cross of Christ is ‘to God’s
measure’, because it springs from love and is accomplished in love, producing
fruits of salvation. The divine dimension of redemption is put into effect not only
by bringing justice to bear upon sin, but also by restoring to love that creative po-
wer in man thanks to which he once more has access to the fullness of life and
holiness that come from God. In this way, redemption involves the revelation of
mercy in its fullness” (Bl. John Paul II, “Dives In Misericordia”, 7).

1-10. St Paul concludes his long defense of his apostolic ministry (cf. 3:1-6:10)
by saying that he has always tried to act as a worthy servant of God. First he
calls on the Corinthians to have a sense of responsibility so that the grace of
God be not ineffective in them (vv. 1-2), and then he briefly describes the afflic-
tions this ministry has meant for him. Earlier, he touched on this subject (cf. 4:
7-12), and he will deal with it again in 11:23-33.

1-2. St Paul exhorts the faithful not to accept the grace of God in vain, which
would happen if they did not cultivate the faith and initial grace they received in
Baptism and if they neglected the graces which God continues to send them.
This exhortation is valid for all Christians: “We receive the grace of God in vain”,
St Francis de Sales points out, “when we receive it at the gate of our heart,
without allowing it to enter: we receive it without receiving it; we receive it with-
out fruit, since there is no use in feeling the inspiration if one does not consent
unto it. And just as the sick man who has the medicine in his hands, if he takes
only part of it, will only partially benefit from it, so too, when God sends a great
and mighty inspiration to move us to embrace his love, if we do not avail of it in
its entirety, we shall benefit from it only partially” (”Treatise on the Love of God”,
book 2, chap. 11).

The Apostle urges them to cultivate the grace they have been given, using a quo-
tation from Isaiah (49:8): the right time has come, the day of salvation. His words
recall our Lord’s preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Lk 4:16-21).

The “acceptable time” will last until Christ comes in glory at the end of the world
(in the life of the individual, it will last until the hour of his death); until then, every
day is “the day of salvation”: “’Ecce none dies salutis’, the day of salvation is
here before us. The call of the good shepherd has reached us: ‘”ego vocavi te no-
mine too”, I have called you by name’ (Is 43:1). Since love repays love, we must
reply: ‘”ecce ego quia vocasti me”, Here I am, for you called me’ (1 Sam 3:5) [...].
I will be converted, I will turn again to the Lord and love him as he wants to be
loved” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 59).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


5 posted on 02/12/2013 9:17:26 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

An Upright Intention in Almsgiving, Prayer and Fasting


[Jesus said to His disciples,] [1] “Beware of practising your piety before men in
order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who
is in Heaven.

[2] “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites
do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Tru-
ly, I say to you, they have their reward. [3] But when you give alms, do not let
your left hand know what your right hand is doing, [4] so that your alms may be
in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

[5] “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to
stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be
seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. [6] But when you pray,
go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret;
and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

[16] “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfi-
gure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they
have their reward. [17] But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
[18] that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in se-
cret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

1-18. “Piety”, here, means good works (cf. note on Matthew 5:6). Our Lord is
indicating the kind of spirit in which we should do acts of personal piety. Alms-
giving, fasting and prayer were the basic forms taken by personal piety among
the chosen people—which is why Jesus refers to these three subjects. With com-
plete authority He teaches that true piety must be practiced with an upright inten-
tion, in the presence of God and without any ostentation. Piety practiced in this
way implies exercising our faith in God who sees us—and also in the safe know-
ledge that He will reward those who are sincerely devout.

5-6. Following the teaching of Jesus, the Church has always taught us to pray
even when we were infants. By saying “you” (singular) our Lord is stating quite
unequivocally the need for personal prayer—relating as child to Father, alone
with God.

Public prayer, for which Christ’s faithful assemble together, is something neces-
sary and holy; but it should never displace obedience to this clear command-
ment of our Lord: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray
to your Father”.

The Second Vatican Council reminds us of the teaching and practice of the
Church in its liturgy, which is “the summit toward which the activity of the
Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows [...]. The
spiritual life, however, is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy. The Chris-
tian is indeed called to pray with others, but he must also enter into his bedroom
to pray to his Father in secret; furthermore, according to the teaching of the Apo-
stle, he must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)” (”Sacrosanctum Con-
cilium”, 10 and 12).

A soul who really puts his Christian faith into practice realizes that he needs fre-
quently to get away and pray alone to his Father, God. Jesus, who gives us this
teaching about prayer, practiced it during His own life on earth: the holy Gospel
reports that He often went apart to pray on His own: “At times He spent the
whole night in an intimate conversation with His Father. The Apostles were filled
with love when they saw Christ pray” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 119;
cf. Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; etc.). The Apostles followed the Mas-
ter’s example, and so we see Peter going up to the rooftop of the house to pray
in private, and receiving a revelation (cf. Acts 10:9-16). “Our life of prayer should
also be based on some moments that are dedicated exclusively to our conversa-
tion with God, moments of silent dialogue” (”ibid”, 119).

16-18. Starting from the traditional practice of fasting, our Lord tells us the spirit
in which we should exercise mortification of our senses: we should do so without
ostentation, avoiding praise, discreetly; that way Jesus’ words will not apply to
us: “they have their reward”; it would have been a very bad deal. “The world ad-
mires only spectacular sacrifice, because it does not realize the value of sacri-
fice that is hidden and silent” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 185).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


6 posted on 02/12/2013 9:18:26 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies ]

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