MARTYRS FOR HOLINESS

THE TEXT

Matthew 5:27-37

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’  But I tell you, do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  All you need to say is simply ‘Yes,’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

TNIV

COMMENT

Holiness is not personal only, but social…and vice versa.  Our Lord Jesus invites us—indeed, commands us—to a holiness of both heart and life, both individual and corporate.   What we do, or think, or desire, what we fix our attention upon, matters.

READING

Let no one say, beloved brethren, that in our times the struggles of the martyrs are not longer possible, for even peaceful days have their martyrs.  Indeed, as we frequently have suggested, to mitigate anger, to flee lust, to promote justice, to scorn avarice, to humble pride, are all a large part of being martyrs…

The Apostle Paul…does not say to simply resist lust, but “Flee fornication!”…Therefore, practice flight against lust’s attacks, if you want to obtain victory; nor should you be embarrassed to flee, if you want to obtain chastity’s reward.  Listen, beloved brethren—all Christians, but especially clergy and monks, must flee from indecent and dishonest intimacy; for there is no doubt, if you are not willing to escape from such intimacy, you will quickly fall into ruin.

—St. Caesar of Arles (470?-543), sermon 41

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