Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
Adore God, all ye His angels: Sion heard, and was glad; and the
daughters of Juda rejoiced. The Lord hath reigned; let the earth
rejoice; let the many islands be glad. (Ps. XCVI. 1.) Glory be to
the Father, etc.
Almighty everlasting God, mercifully look
upon our infirmity, and stretch forth
the right hand of Thy majesty for our
protection. Through etc.
(Rom. XII. 16-21.) Brethren, be not wise
in your own conceits. To no man rendering
evil for evil: providing good things not
only in the sight of God, but also in
the sight of all men. If it be possible,
as much as is in you, having peace with
all men; not revenging yourselves, my
dearly beloved but give place unto wrath;
for it is written: Revenge is mine; I
will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy
enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he
thirst, give him to drink; for doing this,
thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his
head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome
evil by good.
are we overcome by evil?
When we wish
to take revenge. "Revenge is no sign of courage," says
St. Ambrose, "but rather of weakness and cowardice. As it is
the sign of a very weak stomach to be unable to digest food, so
it is the mark of a very weak mind to be unable to bear a harsh
word." "Are you impatient," says the same saint,
"you are overcome; are you patient, you have overcome."
should we do if our reputation is injured?
should leave its revenge, or its defence
and protection to God, who has retained
that for Himself. "But as a good
name," says St. Francis de Sales,
"is the main support of human society,
and as without it we could not be useful
to that society, but even hurtful to it
on account of scandal, we should feel
bound, for love of our neighbor, to aim
after a good reputation, and to preserve
it." We should not be too sensitive
about this, however, for too great a sensitiveness
makes one obstinate, eccentric, and intolerable,
and only tends to excite and increase
the malice of the detractors. The silence
and contempt with which we meet a slander
or an injustice, is generally a more efficacious
antidote than sensitiveness, anger, or
revenge. The contempt of a slander at
once disperses it, but anger shows a weakness,
and gives the accusation an appearance
of probability. If this does not suffice,
and the slander continues, let us persevere
in humility and lay our honor and our
soul into the hands of God, according
to the admonitions of the Apostle.
do we "heap coals of fire on the head of our enemy?"
When we return him good for
evil, for seeing our well meaning towards him, the flush of shame
reddens his face for the wrongs he has done us. St. Augustine explains
these words thus: "By giving food and drink or doing other
kindnesses to your enemy, you will heap coals, not of anger, but
of love, upon his head, which will inflame him to return love for
love." Learn therefore, from the example of Christ and His
saints, not to allow yourself to be overcome by evil, but do good
to those that hate and persecute you.
Ah, that I might, according to the words of St. Paul, so live that
I may be a child of the Heavenly Father, who lets His sun shine
on the just and the unjust!
(Matt. VIII. 1-13.) At that time, when
Jesus was come down from the mountain,
great multitudes followed him; and behold,
a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord,
if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
And Jesus, stretching forth his hand,
touched him, saying: I will, be thou made
clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed.
And Jesus saith to him, See thou tell
no man: but go, show thyself to the priest,
and offer the gift which Moses commanded
for a testimony unto them. And when he
had entered into Capharnaum, there came
to him a centurion, beseeching him, and
saying: Lord, my servant lieth at home
sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented.
And Jesus saith to him: I will come and
heal him. And the centurion making answer,
said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou
shouldst enter under my roof; but only
say the word, and my servant shall be
healed. For I also am a man subject to
authority, having under me soldiers; and
I say to this man: Go, and he goeth; and
to another: Come, and he cometh; and to
my servant: Do this, and he doeth it.
And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and
said to them that followed him: Amen I
say to you, I have not found so great
faith in Israel. And I sad to you that
many shall come from the east and the
west, and shall sit down with Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;
but the children of the kingdom shall
be cast into the exterior darkness: there
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and
as thou hast believed, so be it done to
thee; and the servant was healed at the
Why did the
leper say: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean"?
He believed Christ to be
the promised Messiah, who as true God had the power to heal him.
From this we learn to have confidence in the omnipotence of God,
who is a helper in all need, (Ps. CVI. 6. 73. 19.) and to leave
all to the will of God, saying: Lord, if it be pleasing to Thee,
and well for me, grant my petition.
Why did Jesus
stretch forth His hand and touch the leper?
To show that He was not subject
to the law which forbade the touching of a leper through fear of
infection, which could not affect Jesus; to reveal the health-giving,
curative power of His flesh, which dispelled leprosy by the simple
touch of His hand; to give us an example of humility and of love
for the poor sick, that we may learn from Him to have no aversion
to the infirm, but lovingly to assist the unfortunate sick for the
sake of Jesus who took upon Himself the leprosy of our sins. The
saints have faithfully imitated Him in their tender care for those
suffering from the most disgusting diseases. Oh, how hard it will
be for those to stand before the Tribunal of God at the Last Day,
who cannot even bear to look at the poor and sick!
Why did Christ
command the leper to tell no man?
To instruct us that we should
not make known our good works in order to obtain frivolous praise,
(Matt. VI 1.) which deprives us of our heavenly reward.
Why did Christ
send the healed leper to the Priest?
That he might observe the
law which required all the healed lepers to show themselves to the
priests, to offer a sacrifice, to be examined and pronounced clean:
that the priest if he beheld the miracle of the sudden cure of the
leper, might know Him who had wrought the cure, to be the Messiah;
and finally, to teach us that we must honor the priests because
of their high position, even when they do not live in a manner worthy
of their dignity, as was the case with the Jewish priests.
What it taught
by the centurion's solicitude for his servant?
That masters should take
care of their sick servants, see that they are attended to in their
illness, and above all that they are provided with the Sacraments.
It is unchristian, even cruel and barbarous, to drive from the house
a poor, sick servant, or to leave him lying in his distress without
assistance or care.
did Christ say: I will come and heal him?
Because of His humility,
by which He, although God and Lord of lords, did not hesitate to
visit a sick servant. Here Christ's humility puts to shame many
persons of position who think themselves too exalted to attend the
wants of a poor servant.
did the centurion say: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst
enter under my roof?
Because he recognised Christ's
divinity and his own nothingness, and therefore regarded himself
as unworthy to receive Christ into his house.
From this we learn to humble
ourselves, especially when we receive Christ into our hearts, hence
the priest in giving holy Communion uses the centurion's words,
exhorting those to humility who are about to receive.
Why did he
add: But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed?
By this he publicly manifested
his faith in Christ's divinity and omnipotence, because he believed
that Christ, though absent, could heal the servant by a word.
If a Gentile centurion had
such faith in Christ, and such confidence in His power, should not
we Christians be ashamed that we have so little faith, and confidence
is meant by: Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall
sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;
but the children of the kingdom shall be cast into the exterior
This was said by Christ in
reference to the obdurate Jews who would not believe in Him. Many
pagans who receive the gospel, and live in accordance with it, will
enjoy heavenly bliss with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
who were the most faithful friends of God, while the Jews, God's
chosen people, who as such, possessed the first claim to heaven,
will, because of their unbelief and other sins, be cast into outer
darkness, that is, into the deepest abyss of hell, where there will
be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Thus it will be with those
Christians who do not live in accordance with their faith. Therefore,
fear lest you, for want of cooperation with God's grace, be eternally
rejected, while others who have faithfully corresponded to the divine
inspirations will enter into your place in the kingdom of heaven.
O Jesus, rich in consolations! grant me the leper's faith and confidence,
that in all things I may rely upon Thy omnipotence, and may resign
myself to Thy divine will, and may ever honor Thy priests. Grant
me, also, O most humble Jesus! the centurion's humility, that for
Thy sake, I may compassionately assist my neighbor, and by doing
so render myself worthy of Thy grace and mercy.
RESIGNATION TO THE WILL OF GOD
Lord, if thou wilt. (Matt. VIII. 2.)
Those who in adversity as
well as in prosperity, perfectly resign themselves to the will of
God, and accept whatever He sends them with joy and thanks, possess
heaven, as St. Chrysostom says, while yet upon earth. Those who
have attained this resignation, are saddened by no adversity, because
they are satisfied with all that God, their best Father, sends them,
be it honor or disgrace, wealth or poverty, life or death. All happens
as they wish, because they know no will but God's, they desire nothing
but that which He does and wills. God does the will of them that
fear Him. (Ps. CXLIV. 10.) In the lives of the ancient Fathers we
find the following: The fields and vineyards belonging to one farmer
were much more fertile and yielding than were his neighbors'. They
asked how it happened and he said: they should not wonder at it,
because he always had the weather he wished. At this they wondered
more than ever: How could that be? "I never desire other weather,"
he replied, "than God wills; and because my desires are conformable
to His, He gives me the fruits I wish." This submission to
the divine will is also the cause of that constant peace and undimmed
joy of the saints of God, with which their hearts have overflowed
here below, even in the midst of the greatest sufferings and afflictions.
Who would not aspire to so happy a state? We will attain it if we
believe that nothing in this world can happen to us except by the
will and through the direction of God, sin and guilt excepted, for
God can never be the cause of them. This the Holy Ghost inculcates
by the mouth of the wise man: Good things and evil, life and death,
poverty and riches, are from God, (Eccles. XI. 14.) that is, are
permitted or sent by God; all that which comes from God, is for
the best, for God doeth all things well. (Mark VII. 37.) Whoever
keeps these two truths always in mind, will certainly be ever contented
with the will of God, and always consoled; he will taste while yet
on earth the undisturbed peace of mind and foretaste of happiness
which the saints had while here, and which they now eternally enjoy
in heaven, because of the union of their will with the divine will.
FOR MASTERS AND SERVANTS
The master of a house should
be careful to have not only obedient, faithful, willing, and industrious
servants in his home, as had the centurion in the gospel, but still
more, pious and God-fearing ones, for God richly blesses the master
because of pious servants. Thus God blessed Laban on account of
the pious Jacob, (Gen. XXX. 30.) and the house of Putiphar because
of the just Joseph. (Gen. XXXIX. 5.) The master should look to the
morals and Christian conduct of his servants, and not suffer irreligious
subjects in his house, for he must, after this life, give an account
before the tribunal of God, and he makes himself unworthy of the
blessing of God, often liable to the most terrible punishment by
retaining such. Will not God punish those masters and mistresses
who suffer those under them to seek the dangerous occasions of sin,
keep sinful company, go about at night, and lead scandalous lives?
Will not God, one day, demand the souls of servants from their masters?
The same punishment which will befall those who deny their faith,
will rest upon careless masters and mistresses, for St. Paul the
But if any man have not care
of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied
the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (I. Tim. V. 8.)
Subjects should learn from
the centurion's servants who obeyed his only word, that they also
should willingly, faithfully, and quickly do every thing ordered
by their masters, unless it be something contrary to the law of
God. They should recollect that whatever they do in obedience to
their superiors, is done for God Himself. Servants, obey in all
things your masters according to the flesh, not serving to the eye,
as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God. Whatsoever
you do, do it from the heart as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing
that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve
ye the Lord Christ. (Col. III. 22-24.)