Pursue works of compassion

Daily Reading for March 14

In these days then of the holy fast, let us pursue even more fruitfully the works of compassion which must always be the aim of our zeal. “We must do good to all, and especially to those of the household of the faith,” so that in the very distribution of alms also, we may imitate the goodness of the heavenly Father “who causes his sun to rise on good people as well as evil, and his rain to fall of the just and unjust alike.” Although the poverty of the faithful ought especially to be helped, still those who have not yet received the Gospel must receive mercy in their troubles. We must love the mutual participation in human nature of all people, and it ought to make us benevolent to those also who are subject to us in whatever condition, especially if they are now reborn in the same grace, and redeemed at the same price of the blood of Christ.

We have this together with them, that we are created in the image of God, and they are not separate from us in bodily origin or in spiritual birth. We are sanctified by the same Spirit, we live by the same faith, we come together to the same mysteries. Let this unity not be despised, and let not such a deep communion be cheap to us, but let this very fact make us gentler in everything, that we share their subjection and with them are subjected to the one Lord in the same service. If any of these have hurt their masters by serious offenses, let them now receive leniency in the days of reconciliation. Let pity take away harshness, and let favor destroy vengeance. Let confinement hold no one, let prisons shut no one in, for our God has promised his own mercy on this condition, that people should know that their own sins will be remitted to them only if they remit those of others. Destroy the material of dissension, dearly beloved, and the sting of enmity. Let hatred cease, let envy give way, let all the members of Christ come together in the union of love.

From Sermon 41 of Leo the Great (21 February 443), quoted in The Fathers of the Church: St. Leo the Great, Sermons, translated by Jane Patricia Freeland, C.S.J.B. and Agnes Josephine Conway, S.S.J. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996).

Past Posts