Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
Introit of this day's Mass see the Introit of the third
Sunday after Epiphany.]
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that ever fixing our thoughts
on such things as are reasonable, we may both in our words and works
do what is pleasing in Thy sight. Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
(I. Thess. I. 2-10.) Brethren, we give thanks to God for you all,
making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing; being
mindful of the work of your faith, and labor, and charity, and of
the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and
our Father: knowing, brethren, beloved of God, your election: for
our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also,
and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fullness, as you know what manner
of men we have been among you for your sakes. And you became followers
of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in much tribulation, with
joy of the Holy Ghost: so that you were made a pattern to all that
believe, in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you was spread abroad
the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but also
in every place, your faith, which is towards God, is gone forth;
so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves relate
of us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned,
to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait
for his Son from heaven (whom he raised from the dead), Jesus, who
both delivered us from the wrath to come.
The apostle gives thanks to God in prayer for those inhabitants
of Thessalonia, who have been converted to Christianity by his words,
and declares to them his joy at their Christian life which they
prove by their good works and their perseverance, even through all
trials, in expectation of eternal reward through Christ. He assures
them also of their salvation, (election) because God had caused
the preaching of His gospel, which they so willingly received, to
produce in them such extraordinary fruit. He praises them not only
for having listened to the gospel and abandoned idolatry, but for
having regulated their lives in accordance with the faith, and having
become a model to distant nations, for the report of their faith
had spread far, and everywhere their zealous reception of the gospel
was spoken of. Would that the same could be said of all Christians!
(Matt. XIII. 31-35.) At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to the
multitudes: The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard-seed,
which a man took and sowed in his field: which is the least indeed
of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs,
and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell
in the branches thereof. Another parable he spoke to them: The kingdom
of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three
measures of meal, until the whole was leavened. All these things
Jesus spoke in parables to the multitude, and without parables he
did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken
by the prophet, saying: I will open my mouth in parables, I will
utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.
is here understood by the kingdom of heaven?
The Church and
the doctrine of Christ.
is the Church compared to a grain of mustard-seed?
is a great similarity between them. The mustard-seed, though so
small, grows in Palestine so high and so rapidly, that it becomes
a broad tree, in which birds can build their nests. In like manner
the Church of Christ was in the beginning very small like the mustard-seed,
but it soon spread so wide that numberless people, even great philosophers
and princes, came to find peace and protection under its branches.
is Christ's doctrine compared to leaven?
Because like the
leaven, which quickly penetrates the flour, and makes it palatable
bread, the doctrine of Christ, spreading with surprising swiftness
over the then known parts of the globe, gave the Gentiles a taste
for divine things and for heavenly wisdom. Thus Christís doctrine
penetrates him who receives it, sanctifies all his thoughts, words,
and deeds, and makes him pleasing to God.
what means, in particular, was the Church of Christ propagated?
By the omnipotence
of God and the miracles which He so frequently wrought to prove
the truth and divinity of the Christian religion; the courageous
faith, and the pure moral life of the early Christians, which led
many pagan minds to accept the doctrine of Christ; and the persecution
of Christianity, for, as Tertullian says: "The blood of the
martyrs was the seed of the Church." The false doctrine of
Mahomet, the erroneous teachings of Luther, Calvin, and earlier
and later heretics have, it is true, also spread quickly far and
wide; but this is not to be wondered at, for it is easy to lead
people to a doctrine that encourages sensuality, and to which they
are carried by their evil inclinations, as was the case with the
doctrine of the impostor Mahomet, and three hundred years ago with
the heresy of Luther; but to spread a doctrine which demands the
subduing of the carnal, earthly inclinations, and to bend the will
to the yoke of obedience to faith, something more than human eloquence
is required. Thus, the Chancellor of England, Thomas More, who gave
his blood for the true doctrine of Christ, wrote to Luther, who
was boasting of the rapid increase of his sect: "It is easy
to descend; seducing the people to a bad life is nothing more marvellous
than that a heavy stone should fall of its own accord to the ground;"
and Melanchton, a friend of Luther, in answer to his mother's question,
whether she should remain a Catholic or receive Luther's doctrine,
wrote : "In this religion it is easy to live, in the Catholic
it is easy to die."
did Christ always speak in parables?
That His teaching
by being simple might be more easily understood, and better remembered.
He who is called upon to teach others, should, as did Christ, always
speak to them according
to their ability to understand, and by no means seek his own honor,
but the honor of God, and the benefit of those who hear him.
O most benign Jesus. How much do we give Thee thanks that Thou hast
permitted us to be born in Thy holy Church, and instructed in Thy
holy doctrine, which, like the mustard-seed, has grown to be a large
tree, spreading over the whole earth. Grant that under the shadow
of this tree, in Thy holy Church, we may ever rest securely, cling
to her faithfully, and penetrated, as by leaven, with her doctrine
may bring Thee pleasing fruits of faith and virtue.† Amen.