On the this 21st Sunday after Pentecost, Holy Mother Church presents for us the great epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians. In particular, this Epistle holds for us a magnificent passage on what it means to be a Christian soldier and to fight against the armies of the world, the flesh, and the devil. In our own day and age, the statements of St. Paul cannnot be repeated often enough for we are indeed fighting a battle that cannot be won if we don’t have the right weapons.
St. Paul exhorts us to put on the divine armors, which consists of the sash, the breastplate, the shoes, the shield, the helmet, and the sword. St. Paul us to wear the sash of truth. In other words, he is talking about the Divine Himself. In possessing, Our Lord as Our Savior we posess Truth and this Truth makes us free. Therefore, the Truth provides us with a great deal of strength in our spiritual battles.
The breastplate is that of justice and holiness. If we are just and holy, we will be able to defeat whatever enemies advance towards us. By constantly praying and being on our watch, the enemy cannot catch us unawares. It is by constant prayer for self-knowledge that we come to know ourselves and our proclivities. Yes, we do fall, but we must get up from our falls. Indeed, justice and holiness are a breastplate for us because they protect our soul from many different falls.
The shoes are a representation of the speed with which we ought to obey God. Our obedience is tested every single day whether by our superiors or by others that have asked us to do certain things for them. We should and we must obey them as if they were God Himself. For God often speaks through the mouths of our superiors and it is our duty to obey them in anything that they aske except if it be harmful to our souls. Like St. Gerard Majella, we should be willing to do anything even if we are asked to do more than two things at once.
The shield represents our faith. Faith is the foundation of everything in the supernatural life. Without faith, we are not able to live for Christ. Therefore, faith must be our best protection against the snares of the evil one. We must believe wholeheartedly everything that we have been taught by Holy Mother Church. We cannot argue against what has been taught to us over the centuries by Christ Himself, his apostles, and their successors. If what they say is true in the light of faith, we must accept it. For without faith, what are we?
The helmet of salvation is a difficult term to define concretely. For this poor exegete, it means the right that we have to our heavenly homeland. It is this right on which so many things rest. For if we believe that we will go to Heaven and do everything in our power to get there, we will defeat the evils that are here in our day. Our hope in eternal life and our faith in God compel us to do good works for those that are in most need. Therefore, the helmet of salvation is very important for us.
The sword of the spirit is the inspired word of God. Where else can we truly find sustenance for our daily struggle except in the Bible? The New Testament and the Old Testament contain important lessons that we can use to put the enemy to flight. The Bible is a powerful weapon, indeed. During His temptation in the desert, Our Lord used the Scriptures to put the devil to flight. Three times, He cited Scripture and turned over the devil’s wiles. Therefore, it is right for us to study the Scriptures and to use them for our own nourishment and growth in the faith.
Being armed in this way, let us ask God for the graces to carry out His will in our daily lives and let us fight the good fight together.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!