The sword of charity 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

-Matthew 5: 27-30

These are the searing words of our Lord on the evil of lust. One searches for how the surgery is to actually be conducted, though we recognize the gist: a severe measure is in store. How indeed do we tear the evil of lust out of our very own hearts with our own ‘bare’ hands? How long has the sinner already cried out to God in tearful, helpless agony during or after many a storm of obsession and compulsion, “Lord, would that I could tear this evil out of my own heart with my own two hands!!”

Is it some form of spiritual surgery we must complete? The journey to the kingdom of Heaven is not for the faint of heart! Imagine the ‘violence’ of such orders of love that would satisfy the radical instruction! The effort is intense: to pray, to do, to act, for love of God, of Life, of Heaven, for the Prize of Purity.

Our Savior speaks of the reality that He is not going to do every last thing to get us to Heaven. He reveals indirectly that there are indolent souls. Indolence is a refusal to suffer in any way. But suffering on the way to purity is unavoidable. Would it otherwise be purity?

If we return to the scriptural moment when the apostles could not cast out the unclean spirit, reporting their vexation to the Master, he then revealed: prayer and fasting.

Prayer: prayers to be able to receive God’s strength and grace to overcome, the desire to overcome, to do what must be done without fainting or faltering, that is, no matter the pain or the suffering.

Action: to do what seems unthinkable for an addict: to give reciprocally, even wildly of self - time, talent, treasure; and above all, to do so with love. If we loved like this, with God’s help, would it not cover a multitude of sins? Would we not earn some merit? Would we not communicate to Heaven a righteous desire to be delivered from our disfigurements?

The sword in our hand is the sword of charity: mercy, alms, fasting, and prayer - the greatest of all charities.

Jesus speaking to his mystic on July 1, 1943: “It should not cause astonishment that a soul experiences temptations. Indeed, the more the creature has advanced on my Way, the more violent temptation is.

Satan is envious and cunning. He therefore unfolds his intelligence where more effort is needed to snatch a soul away from Heaven. There is no need to tempt a man of the world who lives for the flesh. Satan knows that he is already working on his own to kill his soul and lets him act. But a soul that wants to be God’s attracts all his spite.

But souls must not tremble. They must not lose heart. To be tempted is not an evil. It is an evil to yield to temptation.

There are big temptations. In the face of them upright souls place themselves at once in a state of defense. But there are little temptations which can make you fall without your realizing. They are the Enemy’s refined weapons. He uses them when he sees the soul is wary and alert regarding the big ones. He then overlooks the major instruments and resorts to these, so subtle that they enter you from anywhere.

Why do I allow this? Where would the merit be if there were no struggle? Could you call yourselves mine if you did not drink from my chalice?

What do you think? That my chalice was only that of pain? No, creatures who love Me. Christ – He tells you so to give you courage – experienced temptation before you.

Do you think it was only the one in the desert? No. Then Satan was defeated by major means opposed to his major attempts. But in truth I tell you that I, the Christ, was tempted on other occasions. The Gospel does not say so. But, as my Beloved Disciple states, ‘If all the miracles worked by Jesus were to be narrated, the earth would not suffice to hold the books.’

Reflect, dear disciples. How often must Satan have tempted the Son of Man to persuade Him to desist from his evangelization? What do you know of the exhaustion of the flesh wearied in continual wandering about, and of the exhaustion of the soul, which saw and felt itself to be surrounded by enemies and by souls that followed him out of curiosity or the hope of human gain? How often, in times of solitude, the Tempter encircled Me with prostration! And in the night of Gethsemane, can’t you imagine the refinement with which he tried to win the last battle between the Savior of the human race and hell?

It is not granted to the human mind to know and penetrate into the secret of that struggle between the divine and the demoniac. Only I, who have lived through it, am familiar with it, and I thus tell you that I am wherever anyone suffering for the sake of Good is. I am wherever a follower of Mine is. I am wherever a little Christ is. I am wherever sacrifice is consummated.

And I tell you, souls that expiate for everyone, I tell you: Fear not. I am with you until the end. I, the Christ, have overcome the world, death, and the devil at the price of my Blood. But I give you, victim souls, my Blood against the venom of Lucifer.”

It is Lent, the acceptable time to do good ‘violently’ (lavishly). Let us keep focus on the fact that we are now in a desert, and should not be surprised by Satan’s assaults.

If the attack is so great that you break down in tears, cry to God again and again “have mercy Father, for I am powerless over myself!” Pray! Cry out in honest need, throw your wretched nothingness upon his power and strength. Do not be afraid! Be reminded that God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. Are we spending a generous portion of our Lent with the Lord, so that we can remember this deep truth and let it soothe and possess us?

Give alms! Save what you might spend and give it away to those nearest in need. Consider charity within one’s own extended family or circle of friends.

Fast! Let hunger touch you and offer that hunger to God as a suffering for His mercy and protection. Be zealous! Be active! Let works accumulate! Pray if there is no inspiration directing your initiatives!

Jesus you are always with us, help us to see you with our heart more clearly when the evil one fogs our way. Create in us a clean heart and give our eyes to see the work waiting to be done to build your Kingdom. Amen.