Sunday Reflection – 20 January – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
“…Let him first strive to cleanse his conscience”
St Caesarius of Arles (470-542) Bishop of Arles, Father of the Church
And so, dearly beloved brethren, let us each examine his conscience and when he sees that he has been wounded by some sin, let him first strive to cleanse his conscience by prayer, fasting, almsgiving and so dare to approach the Eucharist. If he recognises his guilt and is reluctant to approach the holy altar, he will be quickly pardoned by the Divine Mercy, “for whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt 23:12). If then, as I have said, a man conscious of his sins, humbly decides to stay away from the altar until he reforms his life, he will not be afraid of being completely excluded from the eternal banquet of heaven.
I ask you then, brethren, to pay careful attention. If no-one dares approach an influential man’s table in tattered, soiled garments, how much more should one refrain in reverance and humility from the banquet of the Eternal King, that is, from the altar of the Lord, if one is smitten with poisonous envy, or anger, or is full of rage and fury? For it is written, “Go first and be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:24). And again, “Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?” And when he kept silent, that man said to the attendants, ‘bind his hands and feet and cast him forth into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” (Mt 22:12,13). The same sentence awaits the man who dares present himself at the wedding feast, that is at the Lord’s table, if he is guilty of drunkenness, or adultery, or retains hatred in his heart.
St Caesarius of Arles (470-542) Bishop of Arles, was the foremost ecclesiastic of his generation in Merovingian Gaul. Caesarius is considered to be of the last generation of church leaders of Gaul that worked to promote large-scale ascetic elements into the Western Christian tradition. Caesarius was a “popular preacher of great fervour and enduring influence”. Among those who exercised the greatest influence on Caesarius were Augustine of Hippo, Julianus Pomerius and John Cassian.