The Good which we have forsaken must come to us from without
before we can rediscover it within. Thus, the Good comes to us through
the humanity of Jesus Christ, that then leads us to the Eternal Word,
through which, in turn, we are reconciled to the Father. The Good that
we discover is the original Word of God, by which alone we were once obedient to God
and can be made obedient again.
William Law: The Spirit of Love, Address XVIII
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about how the Good must come to us from without before we can discover it within. Trinity Tide is all about virtue in the soul as it recovers its lost Good. If we are to grow in virtue, we must rediscover the Good in the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ. In Him, we must rediscover that state that Adam once had but had lost by reason of his pride. Today Jesus says Ye cannot serve God and Mammon (St. Matthew vi. 25) But we are fallen and, thus, constantly torn between the two. Jesus will teach us to know the difference. Then, He will teach us that to love or will the Good requires inward and spiritual suffering. The real battle comes as the soul struggles to love the one and hate the other (idem, 24) as Jesus Christ welcomes us into His death.
Of course, postmodern man has been conditioned to fear and shrink from love and hate. Such passions might elicit courage and zeal to fight and even die for an ideal or principle. But Christians are called to love and hate. To eschew evil and do good (1 Peter iii. 11) require knowledge of the good and the power to will it. Jesus exhorts us to hate the sin and love the sinner. This means loving both ourselves and others in God. It means that we must hate sin which separates us from God. Jesus means business, and in the end times if we haven’t taken our one shot at salvation seriously enough, we shall be rewarded with the Hell that we have chosen. Irrational cowardice will be no excuse at the Great and Dreadful Day of Judgment.
Coming to love the sinner, again, means ourselves and others in the Good. This will be, of course, be a consequence of knowledge. Goodness must be found first on the outside of ourselvesbefore it can be willed inwardly and spiritually. That we are torn between good and evil in Adam, is clear to any man who knows himself. Anyone who denies this is mad or insane. But even fallen man has always been left with a remnant of God’s Goodness. Fallen man has forever discovered God’s Goodness in his study of nature with the ancient Greeks. Fallen man has forever discovered God’s Goodness through revelation to the ancient Jews. When Christ comes into the world, externally and visibly, as Man, with body, soul, and spirit, He invites all men to partake of the reconciliation between Man and God’s Goodness realized and perfected in Himself.
St. Thomas Aquinas says that God rules Man by three rights. First, by the right of creation. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture. (Ps. xcv. 7) Second, by the right of purchase. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter i. 18.19) Third, by right of the support of life. Who giveth food to all flesh, for His mercy endureth forever. (T.A. Trinity XV Gospel Commentary) By the right of creation, we know that we owe our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life to God. By the right of purchase, we know that God in Jesus Christ has purchased us and paid the ransom for our sin. By the right of support of life, we know that God gives us that well-being that will ensure our salvation by way of the indwelling of Our Lord the Holy Ghost. Knowing that we come from God the Father, are made right through God the Son, and are sanctified by God the Holy Ghost are three essential forms of knowledge presented to faith, hope, and love. Reason teaches us to know our origin and destiny. We come from God and are made to return to God. Nothing – neither sin nor death, needs stand in the way of God’s rational purpose and loving desire to save and reconcile us with Himself.
But our failure to hate sin distracts us from willing what we believe and know to be God’s Good.Sin is found in the flesh and our anxiety over it. Today St. Paul writes to the Galatian Church, which is being tempted to indulge the flesh. Jewish Christians are tempting Gentile converts to believe that the precepts of the Jewish Law pertaining to the flesh, like circumcision, are needed for salvation. St. Paul rejects this.
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (Phil. iii. 4-7)
Once he believed that the Law was as close as Man could come to God. Soon he learned that neither the Law of Nature nor the Law of the Jews could enable man to will God’s Goodness. Then he encountered Jesus Christ, and came to know that the Law of the flesh is sin and death. St. Paul began to connect the dots. His faith was rational. The Law condemned man to death and alienation from God the Father. For St. Paul, man’s division from God has been overcome in Jesus Christ. Jewish Christians are demanding circumcision in the Gentiles to glory in their flesh. (Gal. vi. 13) St. Thomas says that ‘they may glory’ for making so many proselytes. (Comm. Gal. vi.) For Jewish Christians, circumcision was fleshly proof of winning converts. St. Paul counters with, But God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (ibid, 14) St. Thomas continues:
Notice that where the worldly philosopher felt shame, the Apostle found his treasure: what the former regarded as foolish became for the Apostle wisdom and glory, as Augustine says. For each person glories in that through which he is considered great…For one who regards himself to be great in nothing but Christ glories in Christ alone. Hence the Apostle says: ‘[I have been crucified with Christ;] I live; but not I. Christ liveth in me.’ (Gal. ii. 20, idem)
Faith, hope, and love are rational. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor. i. 25) God comes to Man, saves him, and reconciles him to Himself. Faith in who Jesus Christ is and what he does make sense. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Gal. iv. 4,5) God intends that Man know and love Him. His plan has unfolded without interruption. God sent His Son into the world, taking on our nature, to conquer the Law of sin and death. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. v. 21) Christ consumed all sin in Himself and defeated it. God’s Word submits to His own Law of sin and death rationally for us to win our salvation.
Still, knowing the Good and loving or willing are different. St. Thomas writes For in the Cross is the perfection of all law and the whole art of living well. (ibid, Gal, vi.) Loving God in Jesus Christ by the Spirit, we enter His victory over sin and death as we love the sinner – in ourselves and hate the sin. To love is to will the good, ‘knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.’ (Rom. vi. 6) Christ predicts our anxiety.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith. Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?... For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matt. vi. 28-34)
Hating the sin and loving the sinner is embracing God’s Goodness. We must seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. St. Augustine writes
But the Lord admonishes us that we should remember that when God made us…body and soul, He gave us much more than food and clothing, through care for which he would not have our heart double [over the necessities of life.](Aug. Book II, ‘Sermon on the Mount’)
With St. Paul and St. Thomas, we return to the Cross. ‘For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.’ Indeed, he glories mainly in that which helps in joining him to Christ; for this the Apostle desires…to be with Christ. (idem) Undo care and anxiety over the flesh is sin. Hating our sin to embrace God’s Goodness in Jesus Christ from the Spirit to the flesh is virtue. Loving Christ’s death opens us to His promise to make us new creatures in His Resurrection. Heaven’s secret is that, with love, He will feed and clothe us inwardly and spiritually. He invites us to eat His Body and drink His Blood. As secretly as God feeds the birds of the field and clothes the lilies of the field, His love will feed and clothe us if we have faith. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon, (idem) foolishness to worldly men, but to them that love Him, the authority to become the Sons of God. (John 1:12)
St. Michael and All Angels Sermons: