Offers food for thought
The Twenty Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Post delayed by Hurricane Irma)
When it comes to living in the imitation of Christ and remaining committed to responding to our call to holiness, St Paul is our guy in Scripture for explaining doctrine and giving instruction. The words in the letter to the Romans, today, are no different. Paul reminds of the law and strives to raise our understanding to see that law is the natural fruit of the kind of love we are to have for ourselves because of the love which God has for us, and that our love for others is then itself a reflection of the love which God has for each of us.
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta explained Christian love, clearly when she addressed the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, in 1994. She told the political leaders of the United States that:
We are members of the family of God, a community of brothers and sisters who constitute the mystical ‘Body of Christ’ the Church. That’s a big deal. How we live community, must be expressive of our Eucharistic Communion. Cain, the son of Adam, once said in response to God “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and God has spent our entire human history teaching us the answer to that question. Sending the embodiment of that answer in Christ, his beloved Son and pleading with us to listen to him. Christ, in word and action, unceasingly demonstrated what it means for us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to live in accord with the two great commandments, to Love God and Love Neighbor. As Scripture says, “By this will all know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35) and “As often as you did/did not do it to the very least of my brothers and sisters, you did/did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:40,45).
God will allow us to suffer the consequences of choosing to live contrary to our nature, but first and foremost God desires reconciliation rather than punishment. God never ceases to say ‘Repent and believe’. So, God sends each of us as his ambassadors of love, to each other. “If two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where [even] two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.” Wherever Christians meet in truth and love, we are stronger, good things get done, God is glorified and people are saved. We are each other’s life line. I heard a story told by a pastor here in town which really exemplifies this point.
Love contains all other Christian obligations. “Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbor; I have to look carefully at the needs of my brothers and sisters. If I see them hurting themselves or someone else, that is my business. Which brings us to the first reading, “[If] you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death.” I am my brother’s and my sister’s keeper. But not absolutely. “If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.” We do not help each other by turning a blind eye to behavior which is clearly unchristian. I have a responsibility to save my brother from sin, although not responsible for his salvation. The last choice will always be with him.
At stake is not only your own dignity as a human person (created in image of God), but also the dignity of the whole community to which you belong. Sin destroys unity. So—in order to achieve real unity—we must confront what causes division: sin. Peace in the world begins at home, it begins inside each one of us. By confronting the sin inside ourselves, and in the community around us, we work toward bringing the peace of Christ, to all the world.
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.