Our readings this week feature God’s kingdom on earth in Christ. The first reading sees faith come with joy to the pagans and the second sees it come to completion in a final perfect heavenly earth. Christ says in the Gospel that the way to bring that about is love and faith. Lets confess ways we fail in this..
Once I ministered to a person with advanced MS. She’d been part of a trendy set with no time for God or others. Their view was enjoy yourself, have sex, if any hurt you pay them back. When she got sick they ignored her, she hindered their pleasure. They left her spiritually dead. They had not loved but used her. But some Christian neighbors rallied round, sacrificing time to come in, feed and take her out; from them she learned faith and real love.
Am I being unfair in saying that the caring society is rarer now? “Me” seems most people’s priority. Listening on the radio to young people’s new year resolutions I was shocked to hear one list his three resolutions as: “put myself first, put myself first, put myself first”. Is the relation between men and women increasingly just sex; I love you as long as it suits me? What about until death us do part? Is loving one’s neighbors reduced to sending a few euros to Africa. Easy love at long distance.
Be that as it may, its not what Jesus asks. He not only says, “love one another”, but “love one another as I have loved you”. He gave all, not considering his needs or his life. He loved to the last drop of his blood. Such love is central to our faith; it shows us how to transform the world around us by total self-giving. Even if it means suffering we give all for God and others without precondition. Not treating God as a cheap Sugar Daddy we love as long He gives us what we want, cures our ills, solves our problems. God doesn’t interfere in the ordinary trials of life. That would destroy our freedom. But he gives us the grace we need in sufferings, so that we can carry our own crosses and those of others; putting up with people’s faults and failings, making sacrifices for them in love, without seeking a return.
That is, we’re not to love at a distance, but close to the bone. To persevere in the celibate priestly or religious life in love of God and undivided service of his people, though it means giving up family joys. Often, baptizing children I feel it would be nice if I’d one of my own. Then I reflect that I’ve 1000s of children in the faith. I know it would be easier to satisfy myself; avoid sacrifice, trample the poor if they stand in the way of my wealth. Yet I know there is more life in volunteers risking disease in famine areas, healing the world’s injustice.
But we don’t have to go abroad to make love sacrifices. There are many opportunities at home: persevering in love of an alcoholic relation; helping a troubled drug-addicted teenage son or daughter; supporting a neighbor in need when its easier to keep to oneself; giving of time to a bed-ridden relation. There’s nothing impossible about such charity. Its what billions of secret saints have done since Christ, setting aside personal interests to serve God in others. We’re called to be like that, to change the world into a caring place is our Christian vocation, why we’re on earth. As the song says: “if I help somebody as I pass along then my living will not be in vain”. Our call is to build Christ’s Kingdom of real love. For in the grave that love turns to glory. Whereas worldly values of which Satan is lord fade to ashes at last, with Christ on the cross of love we’re lords of peace, faith, and lasting goodness, for our deeper happiness in this world and our glory forever and ever, amen.
So as Christ’s body loving God and others with real caring hearts to make a difference by our lives, we profess our faith.
Prayers of the Faithful
And as the people of God sorely in need of his care and help, we pray for the things that we need..
For the church throughout the world, especially the Pope and the bishops, that their charity help all in need, and help bring real love and justice to our much ravaged and unequal world..
For our civil leaders that their leadership may be in the interests of all, especially the poor and underprivileged..
For our young people that they may not just work for their own welfare, but we reach out to others in the love of God and make a difference by lives of real charity, faith and grace..
Four ourselves that we may make our homes places of real love and care for our children, neighbors and all those who need us..
For the sick, the aged, the poor and the oppressed that through our love, care and generous hearts they may know God’s love..
“it is good and holy thing to pray for the dead that they may be released from their sins”. Lets pray for the dead as a great act of charity towards our dear departed..
And we ask all these prayers through Christ the lord of real and giving love forever and ever, amen.
“Charity covers a multitude of sins”, St Paul says. The lord at last will not look at our riches or petty faults but on how generous hearts have been. As St.Theresa says at last we will be judged by love. Lets pray to Mother Mary that we’ll make a difference by lives of authentic charitable giving…Hail Mary