Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Two equally requisite forms of the love of neighbor: admonition and prayer

"Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love [(donum caritatis)], which was to bring men to share in his divinity. He gave of his bounty, yet without any loss to himself. In a marvelous way he changed into wealth the poverty of his faithful followers while remaining in full possession of his own inexhaustible riches.
"And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his name. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbor made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired [Stephen] to reprove [(arguebat)] those who erred, to make them amend [(corrigerentur)]; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition [(Ipsa sancta et indefessa caritas desideravit orando acquirere quos nequivit monendo convertere)].
"Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven."

    St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, Sermon no. 3 secs. 2-3 and 5, as translated in the Office of Readings for 26 December, Liturgy of the hours (vol. 1, p. 1247).  CCSL 91A, [905-909]; PL 65, cols. 730C, 731A, and 732B.  I am not aware of a translation of the sermons of Fulgentius into English in book form.

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