“Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.” (ROM 12: 9-10)
“Love one another with mutual affection” is connected with “let love be sincere.” How easily we can misunderstand love. Witnessing so many marital crises, when people decide to quit because they no longer love each other, we try to remind them during our Programs that love is in actions, not merely in words and emotions: “hold on to what is good,” “be sincere,” “hate what is evil,” and “show honor.” We can always ask Our Lady to teach us how to love.
“Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a “little while later and you will see me.’” (JN 16: 16)
Our Lord announced to them that He would die, but in “a little while” his disciples would see Him again after the resurrection. We also have moments of “a little while” when we feel strong, connected with Our Lord, following His teaching and in a good relationship with Him, but also we have moments when we feel like God disappeared, forgot about us and left us totally alone; we feel like “orphans.” In moments like these, we should remember that He loves us and He knows perfectly why we need these “a little while” moments; He promised that our “hearts will rejoice.”
“I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, ‘We should like to hear you on this some other time.’ And so Paul left them. But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” (ACTS 17: 32-34)
Our mission to share our faith with others is not based on numbers or some spectacular success. When Paul spoke about the Gospel, he spoke to all who were there, but only “some did join him, and became believers.” To our children or to our friends, to our neighbors or to our coworkers—we share, and we are witnesses, but God touches hearts, He converts.
“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.” (ACTS 16: 32-34)
I like to start my day from this point: “rejoiced at having come to faith in God”: I am His child, He loves me, He called me to be father/mother or son/daughter, He leads me and protects me, and a long list could be inserted here. It is not only about the moment I was baptized, or my first communion, or confirmation, etc. This is about our daily lives. Just rejoice. Our world need to see witnesses of this.
“I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord; he will guide you to all truth.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.” (JN 16: 1-4)
How many times the Church was persecuted in the past but also in our times. And this is not about our sins, our weaknesses or our crimes—this is self-understanding. It is about evil, who from the beginning is an enemy to the dignity we were invited to by God. “The hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.” Again, this is not about us; this is about Our Lord and His love who was and is rejected. We need to remember not about the “hour which comes,” but about the Father and His love, Our Lord and His love, and the Holy Spirit and His love, “so that we may not fall away.” First of all, we are loved.
“The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord, and you also will testify.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (JN 14: 25-27)
Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are “the Advocate.” Jesus, Who is in Heaven, pleads to the Father for us still struggling on earth and the Holy Spirit, Who strengthens us, instructs us in truth and defends us from evil. We are protected—“do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (JN 15: 15-17)
This is part of our mission—keep on the road. Instead of looking for stability, comfort and a familiar environment, we are chosen and appointed “to go and bear fruit that will remain.” On the road we are never alone; Our Lord is always with us and always supports us, assists us and helps us to “bear fruit”; our strength and our effectiveness is not in our actions but in the measure of our love.
“I call you my friends, says the Lord, for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. 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.” (JN 15: 9-10)
When we are humble, when we are “students” of the Holy Family’s Nazareth school, when we learn from them how to love, how to be gentle, how to respect, and how to make the examination of conscience to the right person, and when we love each other daily (!), we will be Masters of the Art of Love, world-class Masters.
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters about this question.” (ACTS 15: 2)
Every moment in the Church’s history has had its own problems and questions. Ecclesia semper reformanda est (Latin for “the church must always be reformed”, often – as usual in Latin – shortened to Ecclesia semper reformanda) helps us to answer these questions. Also the “Domestic Church”—our marriages—need to focus on how to answer properly to all the different times and changes: when we are young and without children, when our children are small, or when there are more and more children 🙂
when our work doesn’t help to protect our relationships or when we are again alone in our homes. Every time needs an answer, and the Church will always remind us what to do—“love one another as I have loved you”—with gentleness, respect, as the most amazing giver of self, protecting daily time for us and the best listener.
“Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord; whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.” (ACTS 14: 19-20)
St. Paul reminded us on Sunday that: “it is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” He is a perfect example—“they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city.” The next day “he left with Barnabas for Derbe.” Never tired? Never persecuted? Never exhausted? Of course, many times he was. But he was always ready “to undergo many hardship to enter the kingdom of God.” And we have excuses for not practicing our marriage rituals or for not praying or not reading a Bible even 5 minutes.
“Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, and so enter into his glory.” (Gospel Acclamation)