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Today is Sunday, June 21, and the Caesars, still fearing Covid-19 or something, keep the Churches shuttered. Not to be hindered, we have read our lessons as usual and found a disturbing juxtaposition of sacred and secular:
The Gospel for today, the Second Sunday after Trinity (or Pentecost):
“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:13-24).
The Church Father Tertullian of Carthage (d. 220) in “On Idolatry” comments that, “Most men simply regard idolatry as to be interpreted in these senses alone, viz.: if one burn incense, or immolate a victim, or give a sacrificial banquet, or be bound to some sacred functions or priesthoods; just as if one were to regard adultery as to be accounted in kisses, and in embraces, and in actual fleshly contact; or murder as to be reckoned only in the shedding forth of blood, and in the actual taking away of life. But how far wider an extent the Lord assigns to those crimes we are sure: when He defines adultery to consist even in concupiscence, ‘if one shall have cast an eye lustfully on,’ and stirred his soul with immodest commotion; when He judges murder to consist even in a word of curse or of reproach, and in every impulse of anger, and in the neglect of charity toward a brother just as John teaches, that he who hates his brother is a murderer [My italics]. Else, both the devil’s ingenuity in malice, and God the Lord’s in the Discipline by which He fortifies us against the devil’s depths, would have but limited scope, if we were judged only in such faults as even the heathen nations have decreed punishable.”
Another Church Father, St. Cyprian (d. 258), quotes this passage from 1 John often, for example: “‘If any one shall say that he loves God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he who loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not?’ Of this same thing in the Acts of the Apostles: ‘But the multitude of them that had believed acted with one soul and mind: nor was there among them any distinction, neither did they esteem as their own anything of the possessions that they had; but all things were common to them.’ Of this same thing in the Gospel according to Matthew: ‘If thou wouldest offer thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave thou thy gift before the altar, and go; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift at the altar.’ Also, in the Epistle of John: ‘God is love and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.’ Also in the same place: ‘He who saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is a liar, and walketh in darkness even until now’” (Treatise 12, Bk. 3, Par.3).
We also read Aristotle this morning and got a less theological, more philosophical take on the:
“Now each man judges well the things he knows, and of these he is a good judge. And so the man who has been educated in a subject is a good judge of that subject, and the man who has received an all-round education is a good judge in general. Hence a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in the actions that occur in life, but its discussions start from these and are about these; and, further, since he tends to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable, because the end aimed at is not knowledge but action. And it makes no difference whether he is young in years or youthful in character; the defect does not depend on time, but on his living, and pursuing each successive object, as passion directs. For to such persons, as to the incontinent, knowledge brings no profit; but to those who desire and act in accordance with a rational principle knowledge about such matters will be of great benefit” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. 1, Ch.3).
And a theological view from the Evening Psalms for the 21st Day of the Month:
“They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor and ate the sacrifices of the dead. Thus, they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them. Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so, the plague was stayed. And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore. They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips. They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the Lord commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood” (Psalm 106:28-38 KJV).
In case you might think that this is an unconnected hodgepodge, read it again.