THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Sixth Sunday After Epiphany
13 February 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.” (Matt 13, 33)
Leaven has the property of converting flour into itself. The same is true with virtues. If we hide the virtue of charity within our hearts, it will act as leaven upon flour. Our hearts will become completely filled with this virtue.
I mention charity because it is the chief of all the virtues. “There remain, faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13, 13) It does not matter what other virtues we may have if we lack charity. Without charity they are all empty and of no value. When all our other virtues are imbued with charity then they shine forth in the greatest of splendor.
There are many who practice the other virtues but lack charity. This is the leaven of the Pharisees that Christ warned us to beware of. “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12 1) All the virtues of the Pharisees are hypocrisy because they are lacking in true charity.
It is the lack of this virtue which brought sin into the world. In order to overcome every sin it is necessary that we have charity. All the mortification and penances are worthless if they are devoid of charity.
If we wish to conquer the devils charity holds the key. It is a great thing to cast out devils, and this greatly angers them, but according to St. John Chrysostom the devils are angered even more so by a soul that is freed from sin. The greatest power of the devils is in spreading sin. “If you destroy sin you have broken the nerves of the devil, you have bruised his head, you have destroyed his power, you have defeated his army, you have wrought a sign greater than all miracles.”
Charity is the root of every good work and is the foundation of every virtue. Without charity even miracles will not be able to help us. In order therefore to overcome the devils, we must first overcome sin; and in order to overcome sin we must have charity. “Charity covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4, 8).
It is thus that we must bury charity within ourselves as the woman buried leaven in the flour. Charity thus planted within our hearts will spread throughout the whole and will imbue all our thoughts, words, and actions. Filled thus with the virtue of charity there is no longer room for sin. And in this manner we overcome the enemies of our souls.
Our souls are like the Kingdom of Heaven. Our souls are members of this Kingdom and within us is the reflection of this Kingdom as long as we have not driven Charity from our hearts.
In St. Matthew we read of “Two women shall be grinding at the mill: the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.” (Matt. 24, 41). St. Maximus says that the Holy Church is the woman who hides the leaven in the flour. She does this through her law, the Apostles, the Prophets, teachings, etc. She is one of the women grinding at the mill, the other is the Synagogue. This other woman grinds at the mill with her teachings, prophesy, etc., but she lacks the leaven of charity, she lacks the doctrines of Christ, so while the one woman (the Church) will be taken up into heaven the other woman (the Synagogue) will be left behind.
What is said of these two women and therefore of the two Kingdoms, applies directly to our own souls. Which leaven shall we bury within our souls so that it can imbue itself throughout the whole? Will it be the leaven of charity and the Church, or will it be the leaven of hypocrisy of the world and the devils?
Let us not look for great things to draw attention to ourselves, but let us focus upon the one simple virtue of charity that is so vital to our eternal happiness and which is so often overlooked. All the great acts are worthless if we have not charity. If we will only plant this one small virtue in our hearts and souls all that we do (even the most insignificant acts) will become meritorious for us, because all will be imbued with Charity.