Saint Monica is a powerful witness to the essential activity of the Church called intercessory prayer. Sometimes I hear people say, “I guess all we can do now is pray,” as though prayer were simply a last resort that is unlikely to do anything. We are certainly obliged by charity to do everything we reasonably can to contribute to the building up of the Kingdom. We cannot forget, however, that the most important work and change is something only God can achieve. He is swayed by our prayers because it is His own Love and Holy Spirit that is alive and active within us when we pray.
Saint Monica understood what her mission was on earth, to bring her family to the throne of Grace. Once she beheld the conversion of her husband and finally the incredible change of her son Saint Augustine, she was ready to move on to her final destination. Obviously being able to witness those conversions was an incredible joy for her, but the tears she shed and prayers she prayed were the path that sanctified her in this process.
Our Christian life is meant to be joyful, of course. But that joy grows to the extent that we are at peace with knowing that God is truly in control and able to do what needs to be done. Tears are not opposed to the discovery of true peace and joy. Our life will involve tears, and when we shed tears because we love God and the people he has placed in our lives, those tears are a powerful prayer and path to communion with Jesus.
Paul begins this epistle differently, because his subject matter is different. He writes that he is an apostle by the will of God, alluding to those false apostles who had not been sent by Christ and whose teaching was not true. There were many sects which had emerged and which preached Christ according to their own whims. They broke up churches, and some of their dried-up branches are still with us today. For this reason, Paul sets out everything which is opposed to the heresies and asserts that he is a true preacher because he has been sent by Christ, according to God’s will.1
If our peace comes from God’s grace, why are you so proud, since you are saved by grace? How can anyone find grace with God, except through humility?2
The testimony of Christ is confirmed in us if we can say, like the apostle Paul, “I am persuaded that neither life nor death etc. can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Rom 8:38–39]. But if we are upset by every little thing that happens, then Christ’s testimony has not been confirmed in us at all.3
In this life the righteous person does not yet enjoy what he hopes for but rather endures suffering and danger. He is waiting for the revelation of Christ to come.4
It is clear that Paul was a circumspect man who was full of concern as he awaited the day of judgment. On that day the Lord Jesus Christ will be revealed both to believers and to unbelievers. Then unbelievers will realize that what they did not want to believe is in fact true. Believers will rejoice, finding that what they believed in is more wonderful than they had imagined.5
Who sustains us? Christ Jesus, the Word and Wisdom of God. Moreover, he sustains us not merely for a day or two, but forever.6
INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW:
“But know this, that if the head of the household had known the hour at which the thief would arrive, he would have been vigilant and would never have allowed his house to be burglarized.” The head of the household represents the human soul, the thief is the devil, the house is the body, the doors are the mouth and ears and the windows are the eyes. Like the thief who gains access through the doors and windows to despoil the householder, the devil also finds easy access to the soul of a man through his mouth, ears and eyes to take him captive. This is why Jeremiah wrote, “For death entered through our windows.” If you wish to be secure, install a bolt on your door, which is to say, put the law of the fear of God in your mouth so that you can say with the psalmist, “I will guard my ways that I might not sin with my tongue. I will put a guard at my mouth.”7
Let everyone who is entrusted with riches listen carefully. He is not only speaking to teachers but to those who manage money. In both cases they are entrusted with riches. Those who teach are entrusted with a wealth that is far more necessary than those who deal with money. There are times when teachers have difficult times. If in these times you who have money are not willing to demonstrate your generosity, what excuse will you have? You need to exhibit both generosity and honesty, for the two go together.
It is an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of someone else’s resources. This happens to the faithful: “Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.” What can be equal to this honor? What sort of speech would be fitting to this dignity? What sort of blessedness would accompany it? Here we are speaking of nothing less than the King of heaven who possesses all things. It is he who is setting a person “over all his possessions.” This is why he calls him to be wise. He must not spend large sums for small benefits. It is only having been responsible here in this life that he will receive the riches of heaven.8
HILARY OF POITIERS:
Although he urged everyone to exercise an indefatigable vigilance, Christ commanded the princes of the people, the bishops, to demonstrate a special attentiveness in expectation of his advent. The bishop is represented in this parable by the faithful and wise servant who was set over the household. He is fully equipped and enabled to care for the people entrusted to him. He needs to be attentive to his instructions and obedient to the commandments. When he speaks the truth and prudently applies doctrine, he will confirm the weak, heal the broken, convert sinners and feed his household with the Word of life—their eternal food. If he is found performing these tasks diligently, he will receive glory from the Lord as a faithful servant and effective steward. He will be set over all his possessions. In other words, he will be established in the midst of the glory of God. Nothing could possibly be better than this.9
INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW:
“He will cut him off” means that the Lord will cut him off from the fellowship of Christians. The unfaithful servant will neither be glorified with the saints nor gently punished with those who have committed venial sins. Instead, he will be thrown in with the hypocrites and infidels, where he will suffer the destruction of those whose behavior he imitated. A good priest is glorified above all others, not only on account of his own righteousness but also on account of theirs as well, since he is the cause of their righteousness. In the same way, a sinful priest is punished more severely than anyone else, not only for his own sins, but also for theirs, since he made himself the cause of their sin. The Lord calls them not only hypocrites but also infidels, because every hypocrite is an infidel, but not every infidel is a hypocrite. Whoever gives the appearance of being in the church and then acts against the church is properly called a hypocrite.10
- COMMENTARY ON PAUL’S EPISTLES. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 1.3. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 5). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON 1 CORINTHIANS 1.2.35–40. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 7). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON 1 CORINTHIANS 1.2.48–51. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 7). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON PAUL’S EPISTLES. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 7). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON 1 CORINTHIANS 1.2.52–54. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 8). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILY 51. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 210). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 77.3. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 212). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON MATTHEW 27.1. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 213). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILY 51. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (pp. 213–214). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Beautiful, Fr. Francis. 🙏🏼