Today’s very beautiful readings sum up our faith. We’re to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and love our neighbour as Christ loved us. Let’s confess any fail to love in our lives..
Love is our vocation. What do is love? It’s a much abused world today, meaning anything from vague affection to sexual intercourse. So as Christians we must look to Christ to teach us what real love is. That’s easy, his whole life was one of love as total giving service of God and others unto death. And that love was not exclusive. He opened his arms to embrace all on the cross and gave everything to the last drop of his blood for all, even those who crucified him. Our love must be like that, non-discriminatory, self-giving, extending even to those we dislike.
In a film of John Paul 11’s life, a wonderful scene shows such love in action. A Polish friend says that they should attack Nazi persecutors mercilessly and kill all collaborators. “No”, John Paul replies, “we’ll defeat them by love”. We know how effective his way was both in defeating Fascism and later harsh communist rule in Poland. His way won out against overwhelming odds because no one can defeat the loving heart in the long run. No wonder two miracles have already been found for his canonisation. For today’s readings echo his words as gospel truth. Loving God and each other with a generous all-inclusive love is the only way to redeem a hating, divided, violent world.
Sadly we often “love” God in a different way. We hate and kill in his name, so-called religious can be worst in this. Christ had to confront the Pharisees who’d stone the woman caught in adultery. Many still do Satan’s work by religious fanaticism, distorting the holiness of faith, people like Ben Laden who blew up innocent people. Or Paisley who claims Catholics, even the Pope are God’s enemies. Only his church, preaching division, worships God. Catholics can be as intolerant. By thus turning love of God into hate we actually serve the evil one.
For, as our readings make clear, to be like God, we must constantly widen our thinking. We must have ever bigger hearts, ever more generous souls, ever more forgiving minds. And that can only come from a close relationship with the living God. As John Paul says: “if we accept the true and living God, He will walk with us in love”. Scripture says the same. God’s love should lead to unconditional love even of enemies. This is redemption for the world, to love all, especially enemies. Someone said to me once: “I’m a sinner, so God is sure to hear my prayers”, how wise. God’s love is wider and deeper than anything we can imagine.
As such his ways are not those of secular liberals either. They too hate and condemn those who don’t follow their agenda. They close their hearts to God or religion or the other world, and can be so self-righteously harsh in their tribunals, spiritually dead in their philosophy. God’s ways aren’t so narrow. They’re deep, broad, generous and warm as the heavens. If we open our hearts and minds to this living God our hearts will also open to all our fellow brothers and sisters; we’ll imitate Christ and be saints. We’ll stop casting God in our image, or excluding him altogether in self-centred secularism. We’ll obey the key commandment, love your God and humanity as Christ loved you. So we’ll be open, loving, generous, spiritually alive human beings. For all else fades and leaves us empty at last, but Christ is lord of real love for our happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen.
So as people called to love God and each other in Christ with our whole hearts, souls and minds lets profess our faith…
Prayers of the Faithful
And as the people of God lets pray to our loving Father for the things that we need, especially loving hearts..
For the church throughout the world that, eschewing power and self-service, it may witness to love in everything it does..
For civil leaders that their love for the people they govern may be shown in the integrity of their dealings and the wise laws they make for the people’s good, especially the most vulnerable..
For our youth that their love of God and others may be the cornerstone of their lives so that they may achieve happiness in this world, and with all they have loved forever in heaven..
For parents that their constant, affectionate and undiscriminate love for their children may bring them to fullness of life..
For the sick, the aged, the lonely and the disturbed im mind or soul that through our care they may know the love of God..
For the dead that having lived in love of God here below they may come to fullness of life with Him forever helped by our loving prayers for them, a love which continues after death..
And we ask all these prayers through Christ the living lord of love forever & ever, amen.
When we were young everyone went to mass to honor God. And when anyone was in trouble or needed help the neighbours rallied round. When hay needed gathering with rain pending or at thrashing events, everyone piled in. As they did cutting the turf and drawing it home in the autumn, or stacking it in the outhouse for the winter. The tea, sandwiches and cakes brought by womenfolk that we ate on the banks of turf on fine summer days tasted like heaven. We came to see, as the poet says, that no man is an island, that we are greatest when one in the human and divine solidarity of work and loving comradeship. Let’s pray to discover that in our way now…Hail Mary.