Through Christ our Lord
In today's Gospel of St. John, our Lord reaffirms His divinity in His discourse with His apostles in reminding them that He must return to the Father Who sent Him. But He encourages them that they shall know great joy and anything they ask of the Father in Christ's name, it will be granted. Quite a promise that has been fulfilled ever since to all who comply with all He asks.
In his epistle, St. James reinforces that sincerity is vital for God knows man's heart. Though man may preen as if looking in a mirror, only the penitent man who heeds God's law and will shall not fear. In other words, as great as the Corporal Works of Mercy might be, they are hollow if the Spiritual Works of Mercy are not applied. To work out one's salvation in fear and trembling, one cannot be passive, but rather active for the good of souls as God so wills.
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
Epistle: St. James 1: 22-27
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23 For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass.
Commentary on Verse 23: He shall be compared to a man, & c. The sense is, that it is not enough for a man to examine and look into his interior, and the state of his conscience in a negligent and superficial manner, no more than one that goes to a looking-glass, but does not take care to take away the dirt or spots which he might discover. Wi.
24 For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.
25 But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work; this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Commentary on Verse 25: The law of Christ, called here the perfect law of liberty, as it is distinguished from the Jewish law of fear and slavery, is as it were a looking-glass, which may make us know ourselves, and discover and correct our failings. Wi.
26 And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
Commentary on Verse 26: If any man think, & c. He here blames those hot disputes, which seem to have been frequent amongst the converted Jews, concerning the necessity of observing the legal rites. In vain, says he, do you pique yourselves upon the rigorous observance of the law, and your zeal to unite its ceremonial rites with the practice of the gospel. If you be void of the essence of Christianity, which is charity, prudence, and moderation, your religion will avail you nothing. C. - This may also be understood of those devotees who are fond of making a parade of their virtues, and who, as S. Gregory says, (hom. xii. In Mat.) afflict their bodies indeed with fasting, but for this they expect to be esteemed by men. A. - A man must not imagine himself to be religious, and perfect in the way of virtue, unless he governs and bridles his tongue from oaths, curses, calumnies, detractions, lies, of which more in the third chapter. Wi.
27 Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one's self unspotted from this world.
Commentary on Verse 27: Religion pure and unspotted, & c. St. James may use the word pure, as a proper admonition to the Jews, who were generally mostly solicitous to avoid legal uncleanesses, such as were incurred by eating meats forbidden in their law as unclean, by touching a dead body, & c. He therefore tells them that the Christian religion is known by acts of charity, by visiting and assisting widows, the fatherless, and such as are under afflictions, and in general by keeping our consciences interiorly clean, unspotted, and undefiled from this world, from the corrupt maxims and sinful practices so common in this wicked world. Wi.
Gospel: St. John 16: 22-30
22 So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you.
Commentary on Verse 22: The joy you will feel at My resurrection, shall ever be unalterable, and unremitting, because there I shall give you assurances and proofs of your future resurrection, and immortality. As you have been partners in my labours, in my ignominies, and in my sorrows, so also shall you have a share in my glory, in my resurrection, and immortal bliss. Behold, these will rise to your ever unalterable and permanent joy. This is the opinion of St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril, Theoplyl. and others.
23 And in that day you shall not ask Me any thing. Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father any thing in My name, He will give it you.
Commentary on Verse 23: In that day, or at that time, in that happy state, you shall not ask, you shall not need to ask Me any questions: nor even desire to have any happiness, but what you will enjoy. But now if you ask, that is, petition for any thing of the Father in My name, He will give it you, whatever graces or assistances you stand in need of: ask them in My name, as I am your chief Mediator, through whose merits all shall be granted you. This is the constant practice of the Church, to ask for all graces through our Lord Jesus Christ. Wi. - In My name. In consequence of this promise, the Church concludeth all her prayers, even those that are addressed to the saints, Per Christum Dominum nostrum, through Christ our Lord.
24 Hitherto you have not asked any thing in My name. Ask, and you shall receive; that your joy may be full.
Commentary on Verse 24: Hitherto you have not asked any thing in My name: by the merits of Me, your Mediator and Redeemer. They were not yet acquainted, says St. Cyril, with this manner of praying and petitioning, as they were afterwards. Wi.
25 These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh, when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will shew you plainly of the Father.
26 In that day you shall ask in My name; and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you:
27 For the Father Himself loveth you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God.
Commentary on Verse 26-27: In that day . . . I say not to you that I will ask the Father for you, or shall need to ask the Father for you, though I am your Redeemer, your chief Advocate and Mediator, by dying for all the world. - For the Father Himself loveth you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God, sent to be your Redeemer. - I came forth from the Father, both as begotten of Him from all eternity; and I also came into the world, as sent from Him to become man, to become the Redeemer of the world, both as God and man. Now I am going, as man, to leave the world, and go to the Father, with Whom I am, and have always been, as God. Wi.
28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and I go to the Father.
29 His disciples say to Him: Behold, now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb.
30 Now we know that Thou knowest all things, and Thou needest not that any man should ask Thee. By this we believe that Thou camest forth from God.
Commentary on Verse 29-30: In this we believe that thou camest forth from God; that is, we are more confirmed than ever, that Thou art the Messias, the true Son of God. Yet St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril, and St. Augustine take notice, that their faith was but imperfect, till after Christ's resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Ghost; and therefore Christ answered them, (v. 31. & c.) Now do you believe? The hour cometh, that you shall be dispersed, & c. Wi. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2019.htm#article5Article 5. Whether the will is evil when it is at variance with erring reason?Objection 1.
It would seem that the will is not evil when it is at variance with erring reason. Because the reason is the rule of the human will, in so far as it is derived from the eternal law, as stated above (Article 4). But erring reason is not derived from the eternal law. Therefore erring reason is not the rule of the human will. Therefore the will is not evil, if it be at variance with erring reason.Objection 2.
Further, according to Augustine, the command of a lower authority does not bind if it be contrary to the command of a higher authority: for instance, if a provincial governor command something that is forbidden by the emperor. But erring reason sometimes proposes what is against the command of a higher power, namely, God Whose power is supreme. Therefore the decision of an erring reason does not bind. Consequently the will is not evil if it be at variance with erring reason.Objection 3.
Further, every evil will is reducible to some species of malice. But the will that is at variance with erring reason is not reducible to some species of malice. For instance, if a man's reason err in telling him to commit fornication, his will in not willing to do so, cannot be reduced to any species of malice. Therefore the will is not evil when it is at variance with erring reason.On the contrary,
As stated in the I, 79, 13, conscience is nothing else than the application of knowledge to some action. Now knowledge is in the reason. Therefore when the will is at variance with erring reason, it is against conscience. But every such will is evil; for it is written (Romans 14:23): "All that is not of faith"--i.e. all that is against conscience--"is sin." Therefore the will is evil when it is at variance with erring reason.I answer that,
Since conscience is a kind of dictate of the reason (for it is an application of knowledge to action, as was stated in the I, 19, 13), to inquire whether the will is evil when it is at variance with erring reason, is the same as to inquire "whether an erring conscience binds." On this matter, some distinguished three kinds of actions: for some are good generically; some are indifferent; some are evil generically. And they say that if reason or conscience tell us to do something which is good generically, there is no error: and in like manner if it tell us not to do something which is evil generically; since it is the same reason that prescribes what is good and forbids what is evil. On the other hand if a man's reason or conscience tells him that he is bound by precept to do what is evil in itself; or that what is good in itself, is forbidden, then his reason or conscience errs. In like manner if a man's reason or conscience tell him, that what is indifferent in itself, for instance to raise a straw from the ground, is forbidden or commanded, his reason or conscience errs. They say, therefore, that reason or conscience when erring in matters of indifference, either by commanding or by forbidding them, binds: so that the will which is at variance with that erring reason is evil and sinful. But they say that when reason or conscience errs in commanding what is evil in itself, or in forbidding what is good in itself and necessary for salvation, it does not bind; wherefore in such cases the will which is at variance with erring reason or conscience is not evil.
But this is unreasonable. For in matters of indifference, the will that is at variance with erring reason or conscience, is evil in some way on account of the object, on which the goodness or malice of the will depends; not indeed on account of the object according as it is in its own nature; but according as it is accidentally apprehended by reason as something evil to do or to avoid. And since the object of the will is that which is proposed by the reason, as stated above (Article 3), from the very fact that a thing is proposed by the reason as being evil, the will by tending thereto becomes evil. And this is the case not only in indifferent matters, but also in those that are good or evil in themselves. For not only indifferent matters can received the character of goodness or malice accidentally; but also that which is good, can receive the character of evil, or that which is evil, can receive the character of goodness, on account of the reason apprehending it as such. For instance, to refrain from fornication is good: yet the will does not tend to this good except in so far as it is proposed by the reason. If, therefore, the erring reason propose it as an evil, the will tends to it as to something evil. Consequently the will is evil, because it wills evil, not indeed that which is evil in itself, but that which is evil accidentally, through being apprehended as such by the reason. In like manner, to believe in Christ is good in itself, and necessary for salvation: but the will does not tend thereto, except inasmuch as it is proposed by the reason. Consequently if it be proposed by the reason as something evil, the will tends to it as to something evil: not as if it were evil in itself, but because it is evil accidentally, through the apprehension of the reason. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 9) that "properly speaking the incontinent man is one who does not follow right reason; but accidentally, he is also one who does not follow false reason." We must therefore conclude that, absolutely speaking, every will at variance with reason, whether right or erring, is always evil.Reply to Objection 1.
Although the judgment of an erring reason is not derived from God, yet the erring reason puts forward its judgment as being true, and consequently as being derived from God, from Whom is all truth.Reply to Objection 2.
The saying of Augustine holds good when it is known that the inferior authority prescribes something contrary to the command of the higher authority. But if a man were to believe the command of the proconsul to be the command of the emperor, in scorning the command of the proconsul he would scorn the command of the emperor. In like manner if a man were to know that human reason was dictating something contrary to God's commandment, he would not be bound to abide by reason: but then reason would not be entirely erroneous. But when erring reason proposes something as being commanded by God, then to scorn the dictate of reason is to scorn the commandment of God.
Reply to Objection 3.
Whenever reason apprehends something as evil, it apprehends it under some species of evil; for instance, as being something contrary to a divine precept, or as giving scandal, or for some such like reason. And then that evil is reduced to that species of malice.