No banner today counting down the number of days left in Lent. If you’ll notice, the name of this Sunday is The Third Sunday IN Lent — not OF Lent. So — no banner. Joy and remembrance of the Resurrection. Meat and no fasting.
It is a joy to be able to connect with great, saintly, and giant minds by sharing our attention to the same Readings, for the same Sundays, over the centuries.
On this weekend, in 1622, there was a sermon preached based upon the Readings for today. February 27, 1622.
This is St.Francis de Sales, a mind humbly submitted to God and greatly enlarged by the grace of God; also, a mind unaffected by the intellectual confusion of modern times.
Remember that great, slow movement of people following Jesus on His way to Mt. Calvary that I wrote about in the last post? People-in-motion comes up again today.
A portion of the Epistle read for today is: “Brethren : Be ye followers of God, as most dear children : and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, . . . Walk then as children of the light : for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.” (Eph 5:1,9)
“Follow” “Walk” These are words of movement. Words of going someplace, in some manner. Follow God during our earthly journey; walk in the Love of Christ; and walk as children of Light from which fruits can follow: goodness, justice, and truth.
St Francis de Sales repeated often in today’s sermon that we are to “walk as Christ has walked. . .” by which he (and St. Paul whom he quotes often) means we are to walk in love, as Jesus showed us how. (His “new commandment” to us.)
This picture is de Sales’ territory! It’s likely he walked through that village in the French Alps, stopping there to preach and teach and admonish people to live in the love of God, and to walk in the love of God.
(Perhaps it was a tree like one of these that St.Francis had to climb after someone who didn’t like his message let the dogs loose on him! Spent the whole night up in a tree in those cold mountains.)
But St. Francis walked a lot and I’m sure he had time to meditate on our Walk and our walking with Christ and what that means. “Walk in love, as dear children; walk in love as Jesus showed us,” he says, and that means to love God and to love our fellow man. Then St.Francis asks why does loving our fellow man exhibit our love for God? Why did Jesus show us that way?
I’ll let St. Francis speak to you: “Just as God, our all-good Father, loved us so dearly that He adopted us as His children, you must show that you are truly His children by your loving one another dearly in all goodness of heart.” “Bearing the image of God in ourselves, all of us are consequently the image of each other. Together we constitute the image of one portrait, that of God.”
If we are not loving (and caring and solicitous for) our neighbor,( those around us), ( other people), then we are not loving God, because God has placed His image in them.
Each person is the mirror image of God. And we see ourselves in each other’s mirrors.
I think this insight shows a powerful mind that is at peace with God, made tranquil perhaps by using his intellect well — and perhaps by absorbing the Truths about God from the beautiful city, Geneva, where he was sent by the Church to govern the affairs of Christians – and to preach to those who had left the Church.
I say that because the things of God can be known by common people because they are learned from His creation. (Romans 1, of course.)
Let’s go back to the slowly moving crowds of people. 2,000 years ago it was a Motley Crew on that pathway following Jesus: Jews and pagans; Romans, Palestinians, and foreigners; those who knew Jesus, those who didn’t know who that “criminal” was up ahead of the crowd.
But today, after the whole Act of Salvation has been accomplished —
— today, that Way is for everyone, all “tongues,” all peoples, slave or free, man or woman, rich or poor; no exceptions, no excuses. Yes, we pick up our cross and follow Jesus, but it is also a way of Love, because as children of God, as brothers, we walk together in Love. There is a same manner, a brotherhood, among us.
This is what amazed the Roman world when the church was new in those first few centuries: “How they love one another!”
We were reminded in the sermon we heard today that we are walking in this pathway of love, but we are walking towards something. We are heading towards what we call The Beatific Vision – the full experience of God Himself . . . sanctus, sanctus, sanctus .. . the all-good God of love.
Stay on that pathway!
Thank you, St. Francis de Sales. Deo gratias.