Homily for Thursday, May 7, 2015

Readings for Today

I do not know if we often think of love and commandments in the same sentence, but that happens in today’s gospel. “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” But as we read this, what comes to mind? What is the connection Jesus is trying to make between love and commandments? Is there something important for us to consider when we hear this?

We know about the importance of love in the life of faith. Jesus tells us the whole Law can be summed up by loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. He repeatedly uses parables and stories to help illustrate the importance of love in the life of a person of faith. Love means tending to the person who is unexpectedly robbed and injured. Love is a father welcoming back his very misguided son. Love means taking the form of a slave to care for the needs of others, both in belief and in action, such as washing feet.

But how is it that commandments fit in with this understanding? When we look at loving relationships we do not always think that all authentic loving relationships have rules and commandments. A couple deeply in love follows rules to treat the other with respect, with kindness, seeking the well-being of the other. A couple in deeply in love follows rules of forgiveness when actions and words hurt the other. Parents have rules for the children they love. And so too does our God have rules for us.

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Homily for Monday, March 10, 2014

Readings for Today

Does today’s gospel reading make you nervouse?  It does me.  It sounds like Jesus is suggesting that every other person has the dignity of Jesus.  That every other person demands to be treated by Christians as we would treat Jesus himself.  And I do not do that.

Some people.  I treat some people like they are Jesus.  But not all.  I may even treat most people I encounter as if they were Jesus.  But not all.  I know I do not. And there is the rub.  For what failures will I hear Jesus say to me, “I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink”?

The first reading makes the suggestion that Christianity (or Judaism) can be about only following rules.  But later in the reading we are reminded about the importance of the inner heart, the need to be attentive not only to what we show others, but more importantly the room we make for God in our heart.

It is not just killing, but being angry.  It is not just committing adultery, it is confronting lust. It is not just lying, but avoiding the inner disposition that wants to say things in a way that may technically be true, but are statements designed to mislead.

The most important lesson is the profound human dignity we all possess because we are created in God’s image.  And that everyone we see, in our lives, on our streets, in the news, is an invitation to serve Jesus.  So, as you leave, remember, today you are going to meet Jesus.

Homily for Saturday, December 29, 2012

Today’s Readings

There can be a temptation to think of Jesus as a teddy bear. That is to say, we can think of Jesus only as that soft cuddly bear that makes no demands upon us and always makes us feel better. And perhaps it is during the season of Christmas that such a temptation becomes more prominent. After all, we are focused on the cute cuddly baby. Even non-baby corporations such as E*TRADE have discovered the value of a baby.

The first reading reminds us that to really be a follower of Jesus means ordering lives around a relationship that impacts everything we do. But any truly authentic loving relationship places demands upon the lover. Obviously parents can feel a great deal of fulfillment and happiness and completeness in the birth of their children. But at the same time, because of their love, there were now demands of care that were not there previously.

So it is in our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is a loving relationship that sometimes places demands upon us. We cannot simply live by doing whatever we please whenever we want to. Rather, because of the inherent dignity we all possess us human beings made in God’s image and likeness, it is imperative that we see that same dignity which resides in others. As such, we simply cannot ignore the needs of others. As such, we must work to make the kingdom of God real. As such, we must embrace an economic theory which requires people to share with the least vulnerable in society.

The gospel reading in a powerful way reminds us that we do this precisely recognition that we have been all given much by God. And as people who have received much from God, in fact everything we have and everything we are, then we must be grateful by giving to God with God is already given to us. To be sure, God cannot be outdone in generosity.

Mary and Joseph recognize that their loving relationship with each other, with Jesus, and with their God, places demands upon them. As faithful Jews, Joseph and Mary follow the law by presenting Jesus in the Temple. They follow the Commandments of God, quite simply because they love God. And so it should be with us.