WITH ST. MARY'S
THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Charity is the highest virtue because God is love.
FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Virtues are those things that allow us to act in goodness and foster goodness around us. In Catholicism, the Theological Virtues are the greatest virtues because they are all oriented directly towards God. St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians listed them as faith, hope, and love. He also correctly states that the greatest of these is love. In the original Greek, Paul uses the word agape, but in Latin translations, agape was translated as caritas, from which we derive the word “charity”. The Church is clear: true love, the greatest virtue, is expressed most perfectly in charity.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
In today’s Gospel, we hear one of the most well-known parables, the Good Samaritan. It is widely known that Samaritans were hated by the Jews at the time of Jesus, and even Jesus himself was the recipient of this historical hatred when he went through Samaria. But he uses the Samaritan as an example that each person is called to be truly charitable, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what their status is. What is true charity? We need to look at the word charity as a derivative of caritas, which is a translation of the Greek agape, which the Greeks used to describe perfect, sacrificial love. Jesus tells us exactly what perfect charity is: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” What does it mean to lay down one’s life? Biologically speaking, it seems that the purpose of all life is preservation, which motivates food, shelter, reproduction, etc. To give up those things that preserve your own life, whether it be food, shelter, money, or even your own breath, for the sake of another person seems counter-intuitive, but is the absolute essence of love. But we should also ask ourselves, what is a friend? Jesus describes it as such: “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my father.” A friend is someone who we choose to be with in solidarity, on a level playing field as equals, just as God did when he became man. The Good Samaritan did not see a slave or a master in the victim of the parable, but as someone who was in need. He sacrificed his time, his money, and his public status to serve someone in whom he saw himself. Let us use him as a model, to be agents of true charity, to give up elements of self-preservation for the sake of our friends.
Family activity to do at home: These activities are meant to be a guide, especially for families, to live out their faith so that their Catholic identity can be active. Sacraments are the best way to do that; after all, we can’t be followers of Christ if we focus exclusively on our own interior lives. But a sacramental life is a life of balance: we have to go to Mass, we must seek out confession, we must catechize our children, but we also need to give ourselves and our families real, authentic ministerial experience. The best way to do that is to go out and volunteer for charities. We have plenty in our parish, from the Gabriel Project to the Food Bank ministry. Read the following article on the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy, then take your family to live out your faith within your community through charity.