THOUGHT FOR TODAY BY
ST. ANTHONY ZACCARIA
If through perfect humility you will be able to know objec tively yourself, only then will you be.
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Bethlehem, PA 18020
any other virtue without love is worth nothing."
Sermon IV is divided into two parts. Part One deals with love. Part Two treats the Fourth Commandment. Part One is subdivided into two sections: Section I deals with the love of God and Section II with the love of neighbor.
Part One: Love
[I] The love of God.
[I.A] Any virtue without love is worth nothing.
Anthony Mary develops his exposition around the classic Pauline text on love, 1 Cor 13. With keen philological insight, he is able to identify in the text the three basic human functions:
[I.A.1] "Speaking" (eloquence in the text)
[I.A.2] "Knowing" (knowledge in the text)
[I.A.3] "Doing" (almsgiving and martyrdom in the text). Pharisees are singled out as examples of virtuous people without love.
[I.B] Illustration of the thesis: Love is a two-way street.
[I.B.1] Love led God from heaven to earth in Jesus Christ.
[I.B.2] Love leads us from earth to heaven,
[I.B.2.a] through the narrow road, by imitating the suffering, humble, and poor Christ.
[I.B.2.b] Anthony Mary shows psychological insight by pointing out the motivational power of any love (which is necessary to make any life somewhat pleasurable)."What lover deeply infatuated with his beloved, could ever leave her, were it not for another one." Accordingly, "hatred for temporal things originates from love of heavenly things."
[Conclusion] If love is so necessary for human life, then love of God is clearly necessary for Christian life.
[II] Love of neighbor.
Anthony Mary considers love of neighbor as cause and effect of the love of God. "One and the same thing [love of neighbor] helps you acquire, expand, and increase [the love of God] more and more and reveals it when it is present." In today's theological language, love of neighbor is the "sacrament" of the love of God.
[II.A] Role of human beings as God's instruments in the work of salvation.
[II.A.1] The invisible God has set humans as a testing ground for us.
[II.A.2] God acts through humans.
[II.A.3] Eve led Adam to sin; Mary led humankind to salvation through Christ.
[II.A.4] We correct our sinful defects by avoiding human beings, by listening to human beings, by doing favors to them, by receiving favors from them, or in any other way as long as humans are involved.
[II.B] Further arguments that love of neighbor causes love of God.
[II.B.1] Incarnation: God became a human being to lead us to love God.
[II.B.2] Christ's new commandment: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).
[II.B.3] Last judgment: "I assure you, as often as you neglected to do it to one of these least ones, you neglected to do it to me" (Matt 25:35).
[II.B.4] Paul's example: "Indeed, I could even wish to be separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen" (Rom 9:3).
Part Two: The Fourth Commandment
[I] Exposition of the commandment
[I.A] Biblical Text: Exodus 20:12
[I.B.1] This commandment calls for
[I.B.1.a] reverence towards one's parents
[I.B.1.b] obedience to them
[I.B.1.c] doing good to them
Because his audience is made up of adults, Anthony Mary emphasizes the parents' duties toward their children.
[I.B.2.a] A long life
[I.B.2.b] A lasting reputation
[II] Practical application
[II.A] Negatively: ungratefulness toward parents, benefactors, those who correct us.
[II.B] Positively: respect for authority, respect for consecrated persons, respect for the elderly and weaklings, justice for laborers, love for all human beings, love for the brethren in the faith, love for one's family.
[Conclusion] Love of God is a necessity. It is acquired by keeping this commandment.
Part One: LOVE
- I. The love of God
- [A] Thesis: Any virtue without love is worth nothing
-  Speaking
-  Knowing
-  Doing
- [B] Illustration of the thesis: Love is a two-way street
-  Love led God from heaven to earth
-  Love leads us from earth to heaven
- [a] The road to heaven is narrow
- [b] The road to heaven cannot be traveled without love
- [A] Thesis: Any virtue without love is worth nothing
- II. Love of neighbor
- [A] First series of reasons
-  God sets humans as a testing ground for us
-  God acts through humans
-  God saves us through humans (Mary through Jesus)
-  We correct our defects with help from other humans
- [B] Second series of reasons
-  Incarnation
-  Christ's new commandment
-  Last judgment
-  Paul's example
- [A] First series of reasons
Conclusion of Part One
Part two: THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
- I. Exposition of the commandment
- [A] Biblical text
- [B] Exegesis
-  Commandment
-  Reward
- II. Practice of the commandment
- [A] Negatively: ungratefulness
- [B] Positively: respect
The Fourth Commandment
Part One: Love
- [I] The Love of God
- [I.A] Thesis: Any virtue without love is worth nothing
My very dear friends,
Love alone is worth everything; any other virtue without love is worth nothing.
- [I.A.1] Speaking
Consider, in fact, eloquence. This is a great and excellent quality indeed, particularly useful for governing citizens and keeping them in peace and order. Accordingly, Moses meant just that when, unwilling to assume the leadership of the people of Israel, he said to the Lord God: "I am tongue-tied; [...] Send, Lord, the man whom as a matter of fact You are going to send" [ Exod 4:10]. This same thing was meant by another prophet who said: "Ah, Lord God! Don't send me, for I am too young and I don't know how to speak" [Jer 1:6]. Nevertheless, such quality is not so useful; rather it is very harmful without love, for it is like a tree full of leaves but with very, very few fruits. That eloquence is worthless or worth very little is proven by the manner Holy Scripture speaks to us. Its speech is so plain, in words so common and easy to understand, that it confounds word-mongers and chatterboxes among whom are those who make long prayers while wearing large phylacteries. That is why Paul, wishing to stress this very point, said: "If I speak very eloquently in the languages of man and angels, but have not love, I am only a noisy gong and a clanging bell" [1 Cor 13:1] -- not unlike the bell that calls everybody else to religious services, but is never there. Do you know who are included in this category? Those of whom Christ said that they sail around the world to make a single proselyte [Matt 23:15], or a Christian, or a convert; those who open the door to others and teach others, but do not teach themselves [Rom 2:21]. What does it profit you if you settle other people's quarrels, but not your own? What does it profit you if you convince others to overcome their passions, but you do not overcome your own? What good is it for you if you spend beautiful words on the subject of perfection, and then, as a hypocrite, you destroy it by your actions? Watch out, my friends, lest you find yourselves among such people.
- [I.A.2] Knowing
But if eloquence does not seem to you to be a great quality, knowledge certainly is such an excellent thing that everybody wishes to have it. You have been taught by Adam how great is its value when, for the pleasure of becoming like God in the knowledge of good and evil, he disobeyed the commandment of the Lord God. But no matter how excellent a quality knowledge is, it, too, is of very small advantage, as Solomon can prove to you by his own story. For, notwithstanding his great public and world wide reputation for having superior knowledge, he is believed by some to have ended up at the bottom of hell. Even if this were not true, he cannot be cleared of the fact that, despite all his great wisdom, he committed countless and grave sins of lust and of idolatry. Indeed, the servant who knows his master's will and does not do it, will be punished more severely, as Christ says [Luke 12:47].
I am not telling you of this regarding only the knowledge of worldly things, but even more regarding the knowledge of God's secrets, like having the prophetic gift, and knowledge of supernatural things by the prophetic light, as proven by that most evil prophet, Balaam, by his own ruin [Num 31:8]. And with far greater reason I affirm the uselessness of the knowledge of things that God alone knows, and we too come to know by faith -- even that faith which empowers man to work miracles. This is what Christ teaches you when He says: "Many will come on the day of judgment, even on the day of their death, and say, 'Lord, in your name we worked miracles, didn't we?'" [Matt 7:22-23] And He will answer: "I solemnly tell you, I do not know you" [Matt 25:12]. The Apostle Paul, whom I have previously quoted, confirms what I am talking about, saying, "If I had all knowledge, and knew also the mysteries and secrets of God, and if I had besides such a great faith as to move the mountains, which would move and stop elsewhere, yet I had not love, I would be nothing" [1 Cor 13:2].
- [I.A.3] Doing
Do you wish, dear friends, to see more clearly into our subject? Let us examine the virtues that generally proceed from love. They are almsgiving and martyrdom.
Almsgiving, without love, profits nothing, rather it causes harm. Recall what Christ said to those Pharisees who gave out alms while, to attract everybody's attention, had a horn blown. What did Christ say? "Truly you have received your reward" [Matt 6:2] -- a reward that is none other but the glory of men. And "how can you believe, who receive glory from one another?" [John 5:44] But without believing, it is impossible to be saved.
Enough about martyrdom. Let me only add that people much too often risk their lives, if not for plainly evil reasons, at least to save their own honor. O how many "saints" -- rather, to be exact, how many people who but "ape the saints" -- have died for some honor which they had labored to attain, and ultimately acquired, and then lost all of a sudden! Don't these first-class-hypocrites, like the Pharisees, suffer a daily martyrdom by disciplining their bodies, either for their own glory, or for any other reason? Suffice it to say that they do not do that out of love, and so it profits them nothing. This is confirmed by what Paul said, "If I distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, yet do not have love, it profits me nothing" [1 Cor 13:3].
Conclude, then, my friends, that: if eloquence is worthless, for it is based on "the plausible words of wisdom" [1 Cor 2:4]; if knowledge is worthless, for "it puffs up" [1 Cor 8:1]; if faith is worthless, for "without works is dead" [Jas 2:26]; and if even works are worthless when they do not proceed from love; then, what is necessary, yes, I emphasize, necessary, is to have love -- the love of God, the love that makes you pleasing to Him.
- [I.B] Illustration of the thesis: Love is a two-way street
- [I.B.1] Love led God from heaven to earth
Do you wish to understand this truth? Why did the Son of God come down on earth if not to bring love on the earth? He said: "I have brought fire to earth; I want nothing but it be kindled" [Luke 12:49]. Man was God's enemy and hated Him; it was, therefore, necessary for man to be reconciled with His Majesty. No reconciliation could, of course, be achieved by man through another man because both were the object of God's wrath; and, moreover, man is deceitful and ignorant of too many things. Neither could it be achieved through an angel, since the latter had no such duty: the angel had not sinned, and, most of all, he could not assume human flesh. That is why God came down from heaven to earth: it was He who was able to do it, knew how, and had to do it because He chose to become true man -- a man, innocent and undefiled. Furthermore, coming to meet His enemy, God made him love Himself anew by the sheer force of love. O limitless mercy! O infinite love! God humbled Himself so much in order that man might love Him back, and through this love be saved.
- [I.B.2] Love leads us from earth to heaven
- [I.B.2.a] The road to heaven is narrow
You can better understand how useful and necessary this love is -- for it alone can lead you to the harbor of salvation -- by the following considerations:
- Do you, perhaps, think that the straight way to heaven is to have possessions? No. Christ said that it is difficult for the rich to be saved [Matt 19:23], and that riches are like thorns [Luke 8:14]. In fact, He set an example for us, He chose extreme poverty.
- Do you think that it is to enjoy honors? No, Christ chose reproaches. "My heart has waited for insults, etc." [Ps 69:21]. [Therefore] shun honors.
- Do you think that it is to live in pleasurable comfort? No, Christ said that those who live in comfort and dress in fancy clothes are in kings' houses [Matt 11:8]. Christ experienced heat and cold, hunger and thirst; spent beautiful long nights in prayer [Luke 6:12]. [And He could rightly say]: "I am afflicted from my youth" [Ps 88:16].
- Do you think that it is to enjoy men's favors? No, Christ was hated by most people, as also many saints have been. He even said: "If they hate and persecute the master, it is no surprise if they hate and persecute his disciples" [John 15:20]. In short, He concludes that "It was necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then to enter His glory" [Luke 24:26].
- [I.B.2.b] The road to heaven cannot be traveled without love
Therefore, my friends, who could go through so many dangers, hardships, troubles and afflictions, if he were not uplifted by love? No one. What traveler, no matter how light-footed and prudent, could walk on so narrow and so rough a road without getting some delight? What lover, deeply infatuated with his beloved, could ever leave her, were it not for another one? Could we, then, drunk with visible and ever present things -- and necessary things, besides -- give up loving them, were it not for a greater love compelling us to do so? No way! In fact, hatred for one thing originates from love of another: hatred for temporal things originates from love of heavenly things.
What kind of hatred is this? It is the hatred for father and mother, for husband and wife, for sons and daughters, for brothers and sisters; the hatred for property, for money, and for everything we see, even the hatred for oneself [Luke 14:26]. Consider what a great love is demanded of us: a love that can be none other but the love of God. That is why Christ said that He came to turn a husband against his wife, etc., and that our very enemies are the members of our own families [Matt 10:35]. And again, He said: "If any one does not hate his own father, etc., and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" [Luke 14:26].
O my friends, in what predicament bad Christians find themselves as they see that this is the only road left for them to climb! But how happy good Christians are as they find themselves free from any attachment, for on account of this, neither sword, nor fire, nor height, nor depth, nor an angel, nor any other creature will be able to separate them from their infinite blessedness [Rom 8:38]. And in losing everything, they find everything [2 Cor 6:10].
Draw then this conclusion: If eloquence does not profit, if knowledge is of no benefit, if prophecy is of little worth, if working miracles does not make anyone pleasing to God, and if even almsgiving and martyrdom are of no avail without love,
- if it has been necessary, or most convenient, for the Son of God to come down on earth to show the way of charity and love of God,
- if it is necessary for anyone who wants to live in union with Christ to suffer tribulations and adversities [2 Tim 3:12] according to what Christ, the only teacher, has taught by words and actions,
- and if no one can go through these difficulties, carrying this load without love, for love alone lightens the load,
- then the love of God is necessary. Yes, without God's love nothing can be accomplished, whereas everything depends on this love.
Thus, if love is so necessary (for indeed it is, as you surely understand) how do you fare with it, my friends? O misery greater than any other misery! O unhappiness greater than any other unhappiness! O grief greater than any other grief! All the other worries and troubles of this world urge you, keep you awake during the night and do not let you rest for a moment; yet you go through this misery unconcerned. O my friends, you shall come to understand it later on; you shall see it and experience it, and worse yet you shall be eternally in such torments and pains.
- [II] Love of neighbor
- [II.A] First series of reasons
You can understand, my friends, how necessary the love of God is; and if you have a brain (as indeed you do), you will wish to know how to acquire this love as well as to find out whether it is in you.
One and the same thing helps you acquire, expand, and increase it more and more, and reveals it as well when it is present. Can you guess what it is? It is love -- the love of your neighbor.
- [II.A.1] God sets humans as a testing ground for us
God is a long way from our direct experience; God is spirit [John 4:24]; God works in an invisible fashion. Thus, His spiritual activity cannot be seen except with the eyes of the mind and of the spirit, which in most people are blind, and in all are wavering and no longer accustomed to seeing. But man is approachable, man is body; and when we do something to him, the deed is seen. Now, since He has no need of our things, whereas man does, God has set man as a testing ground for us. In fact, if you have a friend very dear to you, you will also hold dear those things he loves and cherishes. Therefore, since God holds man in great esteem, as He has shown, you would show meanness and indeed little love for God, if you did not think very highly of what He bought at a great price.
- [II.A.2] God acts through humans
And if this is not enough, tell me, my friends: does God not work in creatures through creatures? Of course, He does. God follows this pattern by employing man even when He works miracles. He led the people of Israel by the hand of Moses [Ps 77:21]; governed that people by Samuel's instructions [1 Sam 7:15]. This very pattern has also been kept by God in specific circumstances of some people: He brought Samuel to the fulfillment of his vocation through Eli, who was far from being a good priest [1 Sam 3:1ff.]; He instructed Paul, whom He had blinded [Acts 9:8], through Ananias [Acts 9:17]. And so, any time man wished to move toward God, it was -- as is still now -- necessary for him to go through another man. That is what Paul teaches above all about Christ who, as he states, is our mediator, the one who is always interceding for us [Heb 7:25]. According to John Climacus, the holy monks [of the desert] were used to repeating a saying (to be properly understood, though), namely, that it would be better for you to have God angry with you than your spiritual director. For, when God is angry with you, your spiritual director can pray for you; whereas, when your spiritual director is angry with you, who will pray for you? [St. John Climacus, PL 88, 416-417] They meant to say that it is necessary for you to go to God through man.
- [II.A.3] God saves us through humans (Mary through Jesus)
Alas! dear friends, through whom did man, that is Adam, sin? Through a human being, that is Eve, his wife. Likewise, through a human being, that is, through the holy Virgin Mother, Our Lady the Virgin Mary, God willed to deliver humankind. As a prefiguration of this event, Judith saved her people from the destruction of Holofernes [Jdt 13:10ff.], and Esther from the persecution of Haman at the time of King Ahasuerus [Esth 9:14].
- [II.A.4] We correct our defects with help from other humans
And again, if man is to walk with God and acquire His love, he must purify himself by getting rid of all his passions, which as a whole have their origin in the body and thus need remedies, directions, and stimuli from the body. Gluttony is a bodily vice, hence it needs a bodily correction. Fornication, evidently, needs no explanation. Anger is so connected with the body that it sometimes blinds a person: ablaze with anger, one is absolutely unable to see. Greed encompasses possessions and any other visible things. Depression "dries up the bones" [Prov 17:22]. Sloth benumbs all the senses. Vainglory and pride have indeed their roots in the soul, but from bodily things they get plenty of stench and evil. Some people glory in and take pride in themselves for their possessions; others in bodily displays of their saintliness; and still others with their dignities and honors, etc. -- all things related to the body.
Who is going to help you, then, extirpate these evil roots? No one else but man: either by avoiding him, as in the case of lust, or by allowing him to spur you on and even impel you, or by doing favors for him as well as by receiving favors from him, or by any other possible way, as long as man is involved.
- [II.B] Second series of reasons
- [II.B.1] Incarnation
If you, my friends, do not think it sufficient to say that, since God is spirit and man is corporeal, there is no other way to prove our love for God except through man, that God's way to deal with man is through another man, that man is to be healed by what made him ill, that, furthermore, since passions are bodily, man is to be delivered from them by means of another man, and if these considerations seem insufficient to get you to believe that the love of neighbor both effects the love of God and manifests it, let this fact, at least, convince you: God became man for just this reason.
- [II.B.2] Christ's new commandment
Christ said: "This is my commandment, that you love one another" [John 15:12]. "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" [John 13:35].
- [II.B.3] Last judgment
In the reckoning at the last judgment He will say: "Depart from me, you cursed, etc.; for I was hungry, etc.." And in answer to those who would ask, "Lord, when did we see you hungry, etc.," He will say: "As you did not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me" [Matt 25:41-44].
- [II.B.4] Paul's example
So necessary is this love that Paul expressed his desire to be accursed and separated from Christ for the sake of his brothers [Rom 9:3]. Well, my friends, you can read in all of Scripture that God has made your neighbor the road to reach His Majesty.
Conclusion of Part One
Therefore, do you wish to climb the mountain of perfection? Do you wish to get some spiritual gift? Do you wish to love God and be dear to Him and be His good children? Love your neighbor; take your neighbor as your compass; resolve to do good to your neighbor and never to offend him.
By keeping the first three commandments of the law, man directs all his life -- will and intellect, words and actions -- toward God. By keeping the other seven, he lives a virtuous life with his neighbor.
Now then, well aware that it is impossible for man to do everything well at all times unless he musters all his powers to fulfill his duties toward his neighbor, I want briefly to explain the fourth commandment. If you keep it with utmost diligence, God will admirably help you beyond all expectations. What I am now going to tell you, will give you an opportunity to investigate for yourselves many, many other things.
Part two: The third commandment
- [I] Exposition of the commandment
- [I.A] Biblical text
Now, my friends, this is how Moses formulated the fourth commandment: "Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God is giving you" [Exod 20:12]. By this commandment God gives an order and establishes a reward as well. He orders you to honor your father, and, if you do that, He promises you a long life.
- [I.B] Exegesis
- [I.B.1] Commandment
- [I.B] Exegesis
Your father is the one who has brought you into the world, has instructed you, has fed you, and has left you the possessions you have. So, it is your duty to revere him, obey him, and do good to him. On the other hand, a father must bear in mind that his child is one and the same thing with himself. He, therefore, must show to his child not reverence, but certainly true respect. That is what Paul said, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger" [Eph 6:4]. How many troubles you, parents, cause to your children [when you treat them disrespectfully]! They, in fact, have to revere you, but not to be afraid of you, like servants. And you have to treat them like children, not like slaves. You are to be neither too indulgent nor too severe. God will ask the most severe account of your harshness in dealing with your children. They must obey you, but you must not order them to do anything which may go against God's will. You should not set bad example to them, either by words or by actions; and, most of all, you should strive not to let them see you when perturbed by anger, in particular, or moved by any other passion.
But, mind you, my friends, you owe this not only to your children, but also to all your servants and other persons dwelling in your houses. Your children should not grieve you, but rather do good to you as long as they can; and you are not to keep them under strict control, especially if you see them behave themselves and get involved in doing good things. Do, then, what Tobit did: he taught his son to give alms, both by example [Tob 1:20] and by words [Tob 4:7]. And what I have just said about almsgiving stands also for any other good deed. But above all do not treat your children, either by words or deeds, as if they were beasts of burden.
- [I.B.2] Reward
This is the commandment: "Honor your parents." What about its reward? The reward is a long life, "that your days may be long in the land" [Exod 20:12]; and if not a long life in the body, for all, at least a lasting reputation, for some. As the Sage said, "the glory of a man is from the honor of his father" [Sir 3:13]. Moreover, if you honor your parents, you too will, in turn, be honored; and if you do good to them, God will shower on you an abundance of temporal goods with a blessing for good measure.
- [II] Practice of the commandment
- [II.A] Negatively: ungratefulness
Keep examining further this commandment, my friends. You disobey it when you neglect your duties toward your deceased parents and toward your superiors. Your parents gathered up possessions and left them to you. But you, do you care to pray for [the eternal rest of] their souls? Alas, my friends, not only you do injustice to them, but even forget them; yes, I say, you forget them. Do you think that you, loaded with these faults, can attain perfection? Rid yourselves of them, rid yourselves of them, otherwise you will not attain it. I wish you knew how serious this negligence is. I wish you were aware of it. You would not be so careless. All Scripture and all laws condemn it. I pass over other considerations. Reflect and understand: were you in such situation... But on one thing I cannot be silent: discuss this matter and you will find out that most people lose their possessions because of this fault.
You disobey this commandment, my friends, when, not only by words, but also by deeds, you fail to be grateful to your benefactors. How many of us are there in this category only God knows, and, of course, each of us does know in his own conscience.
You also disobey this commandment by not giving thanks to those who correct you. Which deliverance is greater: deliverance from illness of the body or deliverance from illness of the soul? That from illness of the soul, of course. And yet, the poor fellow who warns you and in all charity admonishes you [is not listened to] no matter what he says; actually, you do not practice even a bit of what he tells you. Alas! Bear in mind that, by not accepting his good advice, you do not acknowledge him for what he is. You do not thank him, besides you quite often stone him , as it were, for his service [John 10:32]. Indeed, you complain about him if not by words, certainly in your mind in this way: "this nice guy, etc.; he takes a lot of troubles with, etc.;" and would that you utter nothing worse!
- [II.B] Positively: respect
The word "father," my friends, also means a person in authority, namely, one who has power over you and ought to be honored by you. "Honor your masters," wrote Peter, "and not only those who are reasonable, but also those who are harsh" [1 Pet 2:18]. Notice that he says "honor", that is, show him respect, and not, "be afraid of him". When you have a chance to speak up for public welfare, you dare not to; you just keep silent. You choose the path of least resistance and approve with your silence. It is, of course, up to you to say if this is the case with you. Nevertheless, if it is unavoidable to fear the masters, you had better to fear the Master of masters, who has power not only to kill you, but also to damn you [Matt 10:28]. Oh, they would persecute us! How blessed are you, then, for "blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice's sake" [Matt 5:10]. Were you to say: "Let anyone have such blessedness who wishes to have it," you would not, in this case, speak as Christians, let alone as good citizens. For the time being, I want to say nothing else but this, "Whoever is ashamed and afraid to speak for justice's sake, of him will also the Son of Man be afraid or ashamed to speak favorably before the Father" [Luke 9:26].
Also Prelates have authority over their subjects, as Paul says in the letter to the Hebrews, "We have to honor them because they keep watch as having to render an account for our souls" [Heb 13:17]. From which you can understand how reprehensible it is not to respect sacred and religious persons, and worse yet to speak ill of them, as people commonly do. How about that! Without more ado, just think of Miriam, Moses' sister, who, merely for complaining against her brother, was punished by God with leprosy [Num 12:1 ff.]. Think of it!
Fathers of family, too, have authority in their own homes. They have, therefore, to be respected. You know, my friends, that in common usage the word "father" means also an "elderly person". But notice how insolent children, in the fashion of some writers, say disrespectfully, "the old man", "the old lady", "is the old man at home? etc." By the expression "old people" we mean all sorts of feeble people. Does someone not have all his faculties? This one you must help. But if you do not give him what is his, how can you give him what is yours?
This commandment forbids you to withhold the wages of the workers. Scripture says: "Do not keep with you overnight the wages of your hired servants" [Tob 4:15].
The word "father" is also a term for friendship, hence, you owe respect to all people. Indeed, you have to love them all, since they all descend from one and the same origin, through the same generation and all belong to humankind. The Apostle said, "Anticipate each other in showing respect" [Rom 12:10], and, "Owe no one anything, except to love one another" [Rom 13:8]. Now, if everybody is to be loved for being a human creature like you, so much more are those to be loved who are Christians; and still more, those who wish to live a more perfect life and become excellent Christians [Gal 4:10]; and above all others, the members of one's family.
According to this commandment you are ordered to take good care of your household, as Paul puts it, "If anyone does not provide for his own family, he is worse than an unbeliever" [1 Tim 5:8]. Think, my friends, of that rich man, "Dives". Though he was in hell, he was worrying about his own brothers, lest the same or a worse punishment should befall them. In fact, he was asking Abraham, "Send Lazarus, etc." [Luke 16:24] Well, you too, for no other consideration but the strict judgment of God, should be afraid lest you not take care of everybody, as much as you can, by example, warnings, and deeds. For, "God gave to every one of them commandment concerning his neighbor" [Sir 17:12], and above all, those who are under your direct responsibility, particularly young people. Or would you want to be less concerned than "Dives"?
Well then, my friends, conclude by saying that the love of God is necessary to reach Him. It is necessary because, without such love, neither eloquence nor science, nor prophecy nor faith, and not even almsgiving or martyrdom, are any good. It is necessary because the Son of God became man to teach us this virtue. And the way to love God is to love our neighbor.
Therefore I want to acquire this love. And I will acquire it mainly by keeping this commandment and by not being ungrateful to my benefactors; on the contrary by considering myself a debtor to everyone. I will show this love by subjecting myself to everyone, by humbling myself, and by getting along with everyone, so that God in His graciousness may enkindle my heart, for God dwells in humility and peace: "His abode has been established in peace, His dwelling place in Zion" [Ps 76:3]. Amen.