Sermon given by Father Pancras Raja on July 5th, 2020
“Thou shalt not kill …. Who so ever angry with his brother shall be in danger of judgement” (Mt. 5: 21, 22)
In today’s gospel Our Lord tells us that unless our justice abounds more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we shall not be saved.
The Scribes and Pharisees were wholly occupied with external observances and outward appearances of religion, caring little or nothing for the true sanctity of heart and soul.
Our Lord takes an example of the violation of the fifth commandment, and tells us that we must not only refrain from committing the external act of murder, but we must also clear out of our hearts all anger and hatred to our neighbour; i.e: our internal sentiments, our thoughts, feelings and desires must be made to conform to our external appearance, and outward observances of virtue and religion.
Let us therefore consider the two kinds of sins forbidden by the fifth commandment. The external sins forbidden by the fifth commandment, and the internal sins forbidden by the fifth commandment.
- external sins forbidden by the fifth commandment
“Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20: 13): These words of God’s commandment emphatically forbid the shedding of human blood and unjust homicide. It is only unjust homicide that is forbidden. For sometimes it is lawful to take human life in certain cases as in the battlefield; as punishing murderers with capital punishment; and in necessary defense of one’s life against an unjust aggressor.
Those who willfully and unjustly take away another’s life – for instance those who practice abortion, or those who contribute to such a deed – are guilty of murder. Likewise, those who through carelessness or neglect cause another’s death – for example: reckless drivers and careless engineers and doctors are guilty of homicide, and their sin is greater or less in proportion to the degree of their negligence or carelessness.
“suicide” is similarly forbidden by the fifth commandment, because a man has no more right to kill himself than to kill his neighbour. It is forbidden to shorten one’s life either by excessive eating and drinking, or by refusing to take remedies or ordinary means to preserving life and strength.
“Fighting and Quarrelling” are prohibited by this commandment as grievous sins.
All these external actions are forbidden as grievous crimes – because: (1) they are injurious to God! – for they usurp the power that belongs to God. (Deut. 32: 39; Gen. 9: 6) (2) They are Injurious to man – robbing him of his greatest possession – right to live – and often exposing to eternal loss!
- Internal sins forbidden by the fifth commandment.
“Unlawful anger” – which is a feeling of displeasure towards another with a desire of revenge. Anger is unlawful when it is directed against the offender rather than his offense – and makes us desire his injury or ruin; it is unlawful when it leads to excessive punishment or gets beyond the control of reason.
Anger is lawful when it is directed against the offense rather than the offender and seeks only the latter’s correction – or gives a reasonable warning against sin.
Unlawful anger is a Capital Sin- when anger hardens the heart into a fixed and abiding state of resentment, wishing evil to another, and rejoicing over the misfortunes of others; it becomes hatred and therefore is mortal sin.
Now, most of us are like the Pharisees. As long as these people go to Mass and sacraments, and perform certain external acts of religion, they consider themselves good Catholics – even if they entertain in their hearts all kinds of evil thoughts or dislike, hatred and even murder against the good name of their neighbour.
We should avoid not only injurious actions, but also harmful words, thoughts and desires.
Let us therefore, in observing the fifth commandment, see the twofold obligation pointed out by Our Lord. The one is prohibitory and forbids us to kill; the other is mandatory and commands us to cherish sentiments of charity, concord and friendship even towards our enemies, and finally to endure with patience every inconvenience.
Let us implore Our Blessed Mother to make us imitate the patience and forbearance of Our Saviour in all we do and think and let us try to carry out in our lives the counsels given to us in the teaching of today’s gospel.
The Bible talks about how patience is a fruit of the Holy Ghost.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, PATIENCE, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity” (Galatians 5:22, 23)
The supernatural virtue of patience is an act of love for God shown by the disregard of one’s own convenience or inconvenience.
It is a virtue which helps us, for the love of God, to calmly bear our tribulations and preserve serenity amid the sufferings of life.
Five causes of suffering which try our patience:
1) Assault of the weather: extreme cold, excessive heat, violent storms, drought, high humidity, floods, earthquakes, etc. Such trials very often strengthen faith by recalling to mind the sovereign dominion of God.
2) The necessities of our weak human nature, such as fatigue, sickness, hunger, thirst, etc. God allows these so that we may do penance for our sins and increase our virtues. The ultimate of these sufferings is the sorrow caused by the death of a loved one — a grief which may last a lifetime.
3) Pain, irritation and frustration due to personality conflicts with others. God makes use of the weakness of others to test and strengthen our virtues.
4) Insults, contempt, opposition, false accusations and misunderstanding, which often cause mental anguish.
5) Spiritual sufferings that one encounters in the service of God, such as spiritual dryness, scruples, distractions, temptations and persecutions from the devil.
In all these cases, a wise person bravely accepts and carries his cross because it leads to eternal salvation. The saints knew how to suffer with patience. They bravely and joyfully carried their crosses because they realized that the cross is God’s greatest gift. The saints knew that patience in tribulation is the main road to salvation.
Patience is exercised when we resign our will to the will of God and accept our crosses as coming from the hand of God for our welfare. We need to pray and to exercise patience and courage in order to bear the crosses.
True patience is a difficult virtue to practice because of our selfishness and fear of the cross. It is difficult to preserve peace of soul in times of sickness, misfortune and stress. The pressure of many and onerous duties in our state of life often causes us to be impatient along with the fatigue of the battle.
The continued practice of patience will be supernaturally meritorious, of course, only in so far as we are united to Christ and draw our strength from Him. We must do our good actions for His honor and glory, otherwise, all this is purely natural and will quickly fade rather than grow stronger.
What shall we do to acquire the virtue of patience?
First, we must have a genuine and serious desire to acquire patience and this desire must be activated through daily prayer. Second, we must resolve to prevent small crosses and contradictions from destroying our peace of soul. St. Teresa said, “If we bear slight things patiently, we shall acquire courage and strength to bear great things.” Thirdly, meditation on the Passion of Christ will increase our love of God and arouse in us an earnest desire to patiently follow His footsteps.
A prime example took place in Paris during the horrors of the French Revolution:
Condemned to the guillotine, a community of nuns was forced to arrive at the place of their doom.
“The Sisters raised their serene voices, chanting the sublime hymn, ‘Veni Creator Spiritus.’ The celestial song did not cease when they ascended the stairs of the scaffold and the work of butchery went on. Voice after voice had to drop from the chorus as each nun bent under the blade, and at length one voice was heard alone sustaining the holy strain, with no faltering or cadence, even while the bloody blade fell and sealed the last martyr’s testimony.
Over scaffolds and through blood, beset by slow sufferings and sharp tortures, continues today the march of the followers of Our Lord, (in the form of corona virus and its consequences) but, all the while, we will be sustained by the gifts of Our Lord’s holy joy, when the night cometh and we lay down our arms in the kingdom of heaven.” Amen.