Of Vices and GraceSunday Readings Lecturas y Comentarios Sunday Readings Bible StudyPrayer of the HoursBurning Question: Does God want you to be rich?"
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Aug. 1, 2010 (18C)
By Father Cusick
"One of the multitude said to him, 'Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.' But he said to him, 'Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?' " (Lk 12: 13-14.)
Why does the Lord, in effect, refuse this man's request? Was the request wrong? Perhaps not.
The Lord's purpose is take the moment to teach about the higher good of the kingdom which might be lost to those who sin by coveting the goods of this world. By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness, and death, (Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5.)Jesus performed Messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, (Cf. Lk 12:13-14; Jn 18:36.) but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God's sons and causes all forms of human bondage.
(Cf. Jn 8:34-36.) (CCC 549)The primary mission of Christ is to free mankind from the evil of sin. Then he said to the crows, Avoid greed in all its forms. A man may be wealthy, but his possessions do not guarantee him life. (Lk 12) The tenth commandment forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power.
Greed, or avarice, is one of the capital sins. Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great.They are called "capital" because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.
The Lord Jesus offers us the gift of grace, the power in Him by which we can keep the law and walk in the way of salvation. The economy of law and grace turns men's hearts away from avarice and envy. It initiates them into desire for the Sovereign Good; it instructs them in the desires of the Holy Spirit who satisfies man's heart.The God of the promises always warned man against seduction by what from the beginning has seemed "good for food . . . a delight to the eyes . . . to be desired to make one wise."
Grace engages our human freedom to choose and do the good we ought to do and reject the evil, such as greed, that we ought not do. Freedom and grace. The grace of Christ is not in the slightest way a rival of our freedom when this freedom accords with the sense of the true and the good that God has put in the human heart.
On the contrary, as Christian experience attests especially in prayer, the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials, such as those we face in the pressures and constraints of the outer world.By the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world: Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful, so that, made ready both in mind and body, we may freely accomplish your will. (Roman Missal, 32d Sun, Opening Prayer.)
( CCC 1742)
Almighty God forbids vices, or sins, that He might grant us virtues in their place. The Holy Spirit, at work in us through word and Sacrament, is the give of all good gifts or graces. Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us.
But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit."Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.
See also nos. 547, 548, 550 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.