Stick to This

Pentecost 17 Tuesday

1 Timothy 1:5

“The chief sum of the commandment is this: Love from a pure heart and from a good conscience and from sincere faith.”

Here it is. Here you have the summary of what one is to preach, put most excellently and most perfectly, easily remembered. You must do this: If you want to get the law right and grasp its head–so you might know what to do and leave undone and how to relate to it and how you need seek or beg nothing else–see that you have love flowing and going from a pure heart and good conscience and sincere faith. Stick to this. All true sermons are to flow from this and remain in this. None of the sectarian spirits or the sated spirits are able to do this. Teaching a plethora of works will not do, Paul means to say, where everything is piecemeal and beggarly. Rather, what the law demands must be present, namely, love– the kind of love that flows like a brook, springing from the heart that is pure and that has a good conscience and honest, sincere faith. When this happens, all is well. Otherwise, the meaning and understanding of the whole law is missed. Now, these are deep and true Pauline words, very rich. This is why we must elaborate on them a little bit so that we understand it a little and get used to his manner of speaking. First off, he acknowledges that love is the sum of the entire law in which it is comprehended completely. Yet love, as everyone knows, is nothing but being favorably and propitiously disposed to someone and to show and demonstrate to that person all goodness and friendship, etc…Love does not mean to imagine one or two people whom I like and who do what I want them to do and to be friendly and nice to them and to no one else. This is a partial love that does not issue from a pure heart but is utter rubbish. For love from a pure heart works like this: God commanded me to love my neighbor and to be favorably disposed to all, friend and foe, just as the heavenly Father does, who makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good (Matthew 5:45) and who does most good to those who dishonor him by day and night and who abuse his possessions by disobedience, vices, sins, and shameful acts. Likewise, he sends rain on the grateful and the ungrateful, gives to the worst rogues on earth good things from the earth along with money and possessions. Why does he do that? Out of pure unadulterated love of which his heart is full and overflowing. He freely pours it out over everyone, none excepted, be he good or bad, worthy or unworthy. This is what is called an honest, divine, complete and full love. It does not imagine anyone; it does not divide itself, but freely reaches all.

St. Louis ed., 9:889-892.

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