The following words of St. Jude and St. Augustine bring into clear focus why we follow Christ and try every day to be more like Him (that is, to imitate His virtues – His unity with God the Father and the Holy Spirit).
Jude’s words bring us up short. They make us ask ourselves, “In what ways am I acting like an enemy of Christ?”
Augustine follows that with words of hope after the trials of this world and reminds us to keep looking ahead, keep looking up, keep our eyes on Christ as we suffer from our own sins and those of others.
Did you make a good Confession in Advent? Great! (If not, make a choice to receive the forgiveness and healing Jesus wants more than anything to give you for Christmas.)
As we end one calendar year and begin another, let’s be honest about the evil we see around us, while contemplating the beam in our own eye — and pray for the grace to glory in the healing light of Christ’s mercy.
From Jude, servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James; to those who are called, to those who are dear to God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ, wishing you all mercy and peace and love.
My dear friends, at a time when I was eagerly looking forward to writing to you about the salvation that we all share, I have been forced to write to you now and appeal to you to fight hard for the faith which has been once and for all entrusted to the saints.
Certain people have infiltrated among you, and they are the ones you had a warning about, in writing, long ago, when they were condemned for denying all religion, turning the grace of our God into immorality, and rejecting our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
In their delusions they not only defile their bodies and disregard authority, but abuse the glorious angels as well. These people abuse anything they do not understand; and the only things they do understand – merely by nature like unreasoning animals – will turn out to be fatal to them.
But remember, my dear friends, what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ told you to expect. At the end of time, they told you, there will be mockers who sneer at religion and follow nothing but their own desires for wickedness.
But you, my dear friends, must use your most holy faith as your foundation and build on that, praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves within the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life.
When there are some who have doubts, reassure them; when there are some to be saved from the fire, pull them out; but there are others to whom you must be kind with great caution, keeping your distance even from outside clothing which is contaminated by vice.
Glory be to him who can keep you from falling and bring you safe to his glorious presence, innocent and happy. To God, the only God, who saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord, be the glory, majesty, authority and power, which he had before time began, now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:1-4, 8, 10, 17-18, 20-25.)
From a sermon by Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
Let us sing alleluia here on earth, while we are still anxious and worrying, so that we may one day be able to sing it there in heaven, without any worry or care.
After all, when I have said, because of past sins, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us, I must immediately go on to add, because of future dangers, Lead us not into temptation. And how can a people be in a good way, when they cry out with me, Deliver us from evil? And yet, my brethren, in this time that is still evil, let us sing alleluia to the good God, who does deliver us from evil.
Even here, among the dangers, among the trials and temptations of this life, both by others and by ourselves let alleluia be sung. God is faithful, he says, and he will not permit you to be tempted beyond what you are able to endure. So even here let us sing alleluia.
Man is still a defendant on trial, but God is faithful. He did not say “he will not permit you to be tempted” but he will not permit you to be tempted beyond what you are able to endure; and with the temptation he will also make a way out, so that you may be able to endure it.
O! what a happy alleluia there, how carefree, how safe from all opposition, where nobody will be an enemy, where no-one will ever cease to be a friend! God’s praises sung there, sung here – here, by the anxious; there, by the carefree – here, by those who will die; there, by those who will live forever – here, in hope; there, in reality – here, on our journey; there, in our homeland.
So now, my brethren, let us sing, not to delight our leisure, but to ease our toil. In the way that travelers are in the habit of singing, sing, but keep on walking.
What does it mean, “keep on walking”? Go onward always – but go onward in goodness, for there are, according to the Apostle, some people who go ever onward from bad to worse. If you are going onward, you are walking; but always go onward in goodness, onward in the right faith, onward in good habits and behavior. Sing, and walk onward!