Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1882
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him; and having wounded him went away leaving him half dead.”–Luke 10.
Today’s Gospel presents to our consideration the sad condition of a man who has had the misfortune to lose the precious boon of saving grace by yielding to temptation, and falling into mortal sin.
But, at the same time, it points to the great fortune that becomes ours, as children of the true Church, through the grace the effects of the Sacrament of Penance which Christ left His Church for the salvation and restoration of those who, robbed and wounded by sin, cast themselves repentantly into the arms of God’s infinite mercy.
Hence, this authority to forgive sin is the most important power and grace Christ left His Church for the salvation of the sinful human race. But, unhappily, all who apparently receive this Sacrament do not really receive absolution; for there are many whose heart is not in that disposition necessary for the forgiveness of sin. The first and most important condition is abhorrence of sin, and a thorough appreciation of the misfortune into which sin has precipitated us. The greater this abhorrence is, the deeper our grief, the more thorough and effective will be our repentance, the more sincere our resolution to avoid all sin in future, and our faithfulness in keeping this resolution.
Today’s Gospel, by what it tells us of the robbed and wounded traveler, is especially qualified to awaken and increase within us this disposition of heart.
Mary, thou refuge of sinners, full of grace, pray for us, that God may give us the light to recognize fully the evil of sin, and to avoid it for evermore! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!
If the sinner really desires to receive, through the Sacrament of Penance, absolution, and to be sanctified and saved, then it is his duty to repent of his sin sincerely, and to make the firm resolution never to offend God again.
The consideration of the benefits of which sin robs us, and the wounds it deals us, will especially incline our hearts to repent thus. The robbed and wounded traveler of Jericho reminds us of this, and places this sad state of the soul figuratively before our eyes.
The man attacked by robbers lies upon the ground stripped of his garments. What are these garments, morally and spiritually considered, in connection with the state of a sinner? I reply: Sin deprives him of that inexpressibly great good, the garment of sanctifying grace. To obtain a faint conception of the value of this benefit, we need only consider the connection in which we stand, as man, to God, and to the approaching eternity.
I say: We are, it is true, as reasonable beings already the image of God since God is a Spirit, and the soul is also a spirit; but this nobility of the soul this God-like nature does not entitle us to that supernatural destination by which we are permitted to see and to possess God.
This good fortune does not fall to the lot of man until after the bestowal of sanctifying grace, a fact to which the book of Genesis refers in testifying that God created man, not only to His own image, but also to His likeness. It is by sanctifying grace that we become the kindred of God; become like Him, as children are like their father.
No mind of man can divine the splendor, the beauty, which sanctifying grace pours out over the soul. It is when in this state that man receives the right to call God, not only his Lord, but also his ” Father.” It is, further, in this state that man enters into the communion of the angels and saints, and in heaven shares for evermore their joy, their bliss, and their merits and glorification.
Man is then in that happy state which enables him, with the aid of actual grace, to raise himself, with every breath, higher and higher in the joys of heaven, and to place always purer and more beautiful jewels in the crown of his merits. In the same measure in which the light of sanctifying grace is communicated to the soul here upon earth, so one day the light of glory will be communicated when the soul leaves earth to go to God, to see, to know, to love Him, and to partake of His infinite glory.
Man, when in this state of grace, may consider himself as a fellow-citizen of the angels in the heavenly Jerusalem; he may greet all saints as brothers and sisters; may call the Blessed Virgin, Mother; and Jesus, as man, nay, even God, his Brother a prerogative which is not even granted to the angels!
How great a possession is sanctifying grace! It is represented in the Apocalypse as the magnificent garment which clothes the saints in splendor.
But, behold! one single mortal sin robs man of this precious, magnificent garment of his soul; robs him suddenly of all his merits, all his claims to the kingdom of glory; for there is no communion between light and darkness, between God and sin, between Christ and Belial!
Christ says: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” He also, together with all his fallen comrades, had come into existence in this state of sanctifying grace. It was sin, and that only committed in thought, that took this good from him and all the angels, changing them from beautiful inhabitants of heaven into horrible demons, and cast them from their high places into the abyss of hell! They are lost forever!
The same miserable condition befalls the soul that, after being clothed in the heavenly vesture of sanctifying grace, has the misfortune to fall into mortal sin!
Heaven, the inheritance of glory and bliss in the communion of the saints is lost, man has no longer the right to consider himself the fellow-citizen of the angels and saints, to greet the Blessed Virgin as mother, Jesus as Brother and Saviour!
Lost are all the merits which he had earned until now; and, as long as he remains in this state, there is no possibility of his gaining merits for the life to come, even if he fast, give alms, and do all that appears worthy of praise.
Besides this, sin robs him of the peace of his soul, of the comfort a good conscience gives; of the joys, not only of those found in prayer, but of all those which the Catholic Church offers her children during the ecclesiastical year; of the consolation of a worthy reception of the Blessed Eucharist, and of the hope of heaven!
Sin also wounds the faculties of the soul. It injures the mind, the understanding, respecting things of salvation. It even conceals the greatness of the misery it occasions. Sin wounds, enfeebles the will, and burdens it with the slavish chains of habit. Sin wounds the memory by crowding it with sinful recollections, and deceptive imaginations. Sin wounds heart and feeling in such a manner that all desire to lead a virtuous life slowly dies.
Sinner, in order that you may repent and confess worthily, consider how sin has robbed you, and how it has inflicted deadly wounds upon you! Amen!
“Go, and do thou in like manner.–Luke 10.
The good Samaritan took the robbed and wounded traveler to an inn and cared for him.
This parable points out the state of a sinner wounded by sin, and also of his cure and recovery through the Sacrament of Penance which Christ left His Church.
The importance of this Sacrament, and the favor God bestowed upon us in its institution, is especially manifest from the circumstance that the Apostle does not mention in the Creed any other power or gift left by Christ to His Church than this one: “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, in the forgiveness of sin.”
Christ came into the world to save sinners, and founded His Church that He might bestow upon her the infinite merits of the redemption, in order that all the children of man, who are of a good and believing mind, may draw from it grace and salvation until the end of time. Our part in the economy of this Sacrament is, that we receive it frequently and rightly; we can not, therefore, be reminded too often or too emphatically of this duty. Hence, I say today: Confess often, but confess rightly, and to the spiritual recovery of your soul.
O Mary, refuge of sinners, grant thy aid, that all may rightly confess, and that thus they may be truly absolved from their sins! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God.
St. Augustine used to say: “He who prays well, lives well.” We have the same right; yes, even more right to say: “He who confesses well, lives well.” Unfortunately, confession is not always what it should be. Were this not the case, how great a change the Church of God would experience, at least once a year, at Easter!
St. Teresa goes so far as to ask the question: “Why have there been and are there Catholics, and God knows how many, who will be lost for all eternity?” Is it because they sinned? “No;” answers the saint, “but because they have not rightly confessed.” And yet how easy would it be for all those children of the Church, who have sinned, to reconcile themselves to God, if they only fulfilled the few and easy conditions that are necessary for a worthy confession!
Every Christian, while yet but a child, is instructed in these conditions, and is able to enumerate them; and yet the confession of many, and even of some who confess often, is only a deception. But though they may succeed in deceiving the priest, they can not deceive God, Who sees into the heart. I will prove my assertion more in detail.
The first condition necessary for a worthy confession is the sincere desire to confess rightly, and hence the earnest cry of the heart to God: Enlighten me, O Lord! to recognize my guilt, strengthen me to confess rightly, to repent truly, and never again to offend Thee!
How many confess only from habit, and do not approach the Sacrament of Penance with the earnestness it requires. I am afraid of such confessions.
The second condition is instruction; namely, to be able, as a well-instructed Christian, to distinguish be tween what is sin and what is not; between a mortal and a venial sin. To draw this distinction with sufficient accuracy, it is necessary to be instructed in the Catechism.
Prayer-books, with aids for confession, in the form of examination of conscience, are not practical, because they are liable to fall into the hands of some one unacquainted with the vices enumerated therein, and who might be led by them into temptation.
What every one needs is instruction and examination of conscience, at least, in regard to all that is mortal sin in thoughts, words, desires, works, omissions, in regard to his own sins, and the sins of others as far as they are caused by him. So many omit a thorough examination of conscience, and hence so many unworthy confessions.
We go into the confessional and confess our sinful actions, but we have not examined and do not confess our thoughts; and yet many great sins are committed in thought!
We confess evil deeds, but as we have not examined ourselves in regard to our wishes, we do not confess our sinful desires. And yet, men frequently commit greater sin in desire than in deed, because they have not the opportunity to do what they sinfully desire. Such confessions are deceptions.
We confess our evil actions, but we do not examine ourselves in regard to our obligations, and hence do not confess our sins of omission.
Only God knows how many confessions of parents, especially of mothers, for they go oftener to confession than their husbands, are useless, because they have sinned greatly by omitting to force their children to say those prayers which are of obligation for all; by not in structing them in their faith; by not preparing them soon enough for Holy Communion; by not watching their intercourse with others; by not punishing their misdeeds; by not guiding them properly in the selection of their vocation; especially, by not advising them, as they are in duty bound, when they wish to marry.
We confess, but we do not explain our sin; we do not state those circumstances which change the nature of the sin committed.
We say for instance: I have sinned against the sixth commandment; but, having not examined ourselves, we do not say whether we led others or were led by them into the path of evil. Such confessions are unworthy. We confess, but we do not mention the number of times the sin was committed, as is necessary in regard to mortal sin.
But what still oftener renders confession a deception is the absence of that repentance which we should feel, considering that we have offended God, and that we have wickedly exposed ourselves to the terrible, the eternal consequences of sin.
The most efficacious means to awaken in us, by faith and love, a true, supernatural repentance, is to look upon Jesus, the crucified Saviour, and upon Magdalen at the foot of the cross, upon the anguish she felt when she saw how her Lord suffered, when she looked at His wounds, and the blood which fell upon her from the cross!
Lastly, there is frequently not sufficient care to reanimate our faith while approaching the Sacrament of Penance, and also great negligence in making the firm resolution to avoid sin and every occasion leading to it, and thus we show that our repentance is not true and supernatural.
How many who confess, do not confess worthily! And why? They conceal mortal sins! They are ashamed. And yet, how easy it were for them to be candid, had they but faith, and did they but consider that the confessor is not there to represent the severe judge but the good Samaritan, who feels consoled to see that his care for the poor wounded sinner is not in vain, but that, with the help of the Almighty he can restore him!
Would to God that every sinner appreciated the care and solicitude the priest and confessor has for his soul! The good Samaritan in the Gospel lovingly placed the robbed and wounded traveler upon his own beast and took him to an inn.
Unfortunately, a confessor has the greatest trouble and anxiety to encourage, question and assist the sinner in order that he may confess frankly, thoroughly and repentantly, but he does it willingly, and pours wine and oil into the wounds of the sinner’s heart by his impressive and consoling exhortations.
Sinner, trust yourself to the priest, and your wounds will be healed! Amen! (2)
What is understood from this day’s gospel in a higher and more spiritual sense?
According to the interpretation of the fathers, our father Adam and hence the whole human race is to be understood by the one, who has fallen among robbers. The human race, which through the disobedience of Adam fell into the power of Satan and his angels, was robbed by them of original justice and the grace of God, and moreover wounded and weakened by means of evil concupiscence, in all powers of the soul. The priest and the Levite, who are the image of the Old Law, would not and could not avert this misfortune; but Christ, the true Samaritan, our Helper, embraced the interests of the wounded man, in as much as He poured the oil of His grace, and the wine of His blood into the wounds of man’s soul, and thus healed him, and in as much as He led him by baptism into the inn of His Church, and there entrusted him to His priests for further care and nursing. Thank Christ, the good Samaritan, for this great love and care for you, and endeavor to make them of use to you by your cooperation. (1)
Research by REGINA Staff