The Treasure of Christian Justice
Pope Saint Leo the Great
Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church
Pope Saint Leo the Great here (excerpt from Sermon 92, 1.2.3: PL 54, 454-455) comments on the right use of earthly treasure to store up heavenly treasure. This reflection appears in the Roman Catholic Church's Office of Readings for Monday of the last (34th) week of the liturgical year with the accompanying biblical reading taken from 2Peter 1:1-11.
The Lord says: Unless your justice exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mat 5:20). How indeed can justice exceed, unless compassion rises above judgement? What is as right or as worthy as a creature, fashioned in the image and likeness of God, imitating his Creator who, by the remission of sins, brought about the reparation and sanctification of believers? With strict vengeance removed and the cessation of all punishment, the guilty man was restored to innocence, and the end of wickedness became the beginning of virtue. Can anything be more just than this?
This is how Christian justice can exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, not by cancelling out the law but by rejecting earthly wisdom. This is why, in giving his disciples a rule for fasting, the Lord said: Whenever you fast do not become sad like the hypocrites. For they disfigure their faces in order to seem to be fasting. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. What reward but that of human praise? Such a desire often puts on a mask of justice, for where there is no concern for conscience, untruthful reputation gives pleasure. The result is that concealed injustice enjoys a false reputation.
For the man who loves God it is sufficient to please the one he loves; and there is no greater recompense to be sought than the loving itself; for love is from God by the very fact that God himself is love. The good and chaste soul is so happy to be filled with him that it desires to take delight in nothing else. For what the Lord says is very true: Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be (Luke 12:23). What is a manís treasure but the heaping up of profits and the fruit of his toil? For as a man sows, so will he reap (Gal 6:7), and each manís gain matches his toil; and where delight and enjoyment are found, there the heartís desire is attached. Now there are many kinds of wealth and a variety of grounds for rejoicing; every manís treasure is that which he desires. If it is based on earthly ambitions, its acquisition makes men not blessed but wretched.
But those who enjoy the things that are above and eternal rather than earthly and perishable, possess an incorruptible, hidden store of which the prophet speaks: Our treasure and salvation have come, wisdom and instruction and piety from the Lord: these are the treasures of justice. Through these, with the help of Godís grace, even earthly possessions are transformed into heavenly blessings; it is a fact that many people use the wealth which is either rightfully left to them or otherwise acquired, as a tool of devotion. By distributing what might be superfluous to support the poor, they are amassing imperishable riches, so that what they have discreetly given cannot be subject to loss. They have properly placed those riches where their heart is; it is a most blessed thing to work to increase such riches rather than to fear that they may pass away.
For more Catholic resources to feed your faith, visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.
To sign up for our free weekly e-mail with Dr. D'Ambrosio's commentary on the Sunday readings, liturgical feasts, updates on where Dr. D will be speaking, a chance to WIN a FREE CD and MORE, CLICK HERE!
EWTN - The Virtues: Seven Habits of Champions
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio offers a spirited 8-part mediation in this new EWTN Home Video on the four moral virtues - Fortitude, Prudence, Justice, and Temperance - as well as the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
Seven Habits of Champions lays out how God's inspiration for Christian living, contained in the Scriptures and made known through the Catechism and Church documents, is accessible to everyone and demonstrated for us through the lives of the saints. We are all called to holiness. And though the practice of these seven "habits," heroic virtue can be attained!
Each DVD tape contains 4 episodes aired on EWTN!
Set of Two DVDs with 8 shows - $49.95
Introduction to the Virtues
The Cardinal Virtue of Prudence
The Cardinal Virtue of Justice
The Cardinal Virtue of Temperance
The Cardinal Virtue of Fortitude
The Theological Virtue of Faith
The Theological Virtue of Hope
The Theological Virtue of Charity
Early Church Fathers - VOL II
Dr. Marcellino DíAmbrosio, host of EWTNís Early Church Fathers TV series, continues to acquaint us with the colorful personalities of the earliest Christian teachers, making their dynamic message accessible, enjoyable, and relevant to the challenges of everyday life. This, the second volume of series, consists of shows produced in 2006 and covering fascinating personalities such as the courageous St. John Chrysostom, the outspoken bible scholar, Jerome, and 17 other heroes of the Early Church.