“For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.” (GAL 5: 13)
“Serve one another through love” is for everybody, for family and, in a very special way, for married couples. This is a true sign of being free because when we are free, we are very creative in the way in which we express our love, and we will look for ways to make our spouses happy.
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening; you have the words of everlasting life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.’” (MT 16: 16-18)
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, two amazing Apostles, who dedicated their lives totally to serve the Church–two different personalities, two different missions, two different charisms, but the same love, the same dedication and the same end of life—martyrdom. In our relationships we need to remember that our differences are good because we can serve in different ways but for the same goal. When we try to change our spouses for our idealistic vision of them, we are missing the beauty of God’s creation, Who created us with our own charisms, talents and mission. When we are united and respect our differences, we can do much more.
“You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I will lead them out from among the peoples and gather them from the foreign lands.” (EZ 34: 12-13)
All of us can find ourselves in places “when it was cloudy and dark.” We are trapped in our thoughts; we don’t see where to go or what to do. Our Lord knows this perfectly and always comes to rescue us: “I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered.” He knows where we belong and where we should be—He is always for us and will lead us with love and care. In His Most Sacred Heart is always a place for us.
“Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.” (MT 7: 24-25)
What is my rock? Or Who is my rock? How have I built my relationship with my spouse? Is it really based on a realistic vision—‘built solidly on rock”–or maybe still some idealistic visions try to come to me? Building our relationships “on rock” doesn’t mean we will have perfect and easy lives; it means our relationship will be protected and able to grow.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.” (MT 7: 17-18)
A “Good tree bears good fruit.” When we look at how the fruits in our marriages look, we naturally think about the level of gentleness and how much we respect each other; are we really free, creative and joyful in being gifts of self, and do we spend a minimum of 15 minutes daily to nourish our relationship, and how deep do we understand ourselves? If I am a good husband, my wife will be happy; if she is not, maybe there is something wrong with my “tree” because “every good tree bears good fruit.”
“Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord; whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (MT 7: 13-14)
Our strategies from the Program are not easy, but simple. It is like going through the “narrow gate.” When we want to create new habits, we need to put in some effort and be persistent. When we need to grow in our relationship, we can’t just stay with what we did; we need to implement something new. Everything which is new is a mess in the beginning, but with our perseverance we can change it into a new normal. Ideation without execution is delusion.
“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.” (LK 1: 58)
We are not alone, we are living in relationships. We are children and maybe siblings, we are friends and coworkers, we are married or consecrated, we became fathers and mothers. Every relationship to grow needs to be protected and admired. When we married, we invited friends and relatives to share with them our joy; when we became parents, we invited others to celebrate with us. When we finished Program 1, we became more conscious to support other marriages to help them to grow.
“You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (1 COR 11: 26)
We celebrate today the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We will go with Him, hidden in the small host in the monstrance, to visit our parishes, our cities and our villages–to visit the places where we live. He stays with us in the Tabernacles; He listens to our prayers, and when we receive Him during Holy Communion, He also stays in our hearts.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 COR 12: 7-9)
Who likes being weak? Who likes weakness? Only God, Who became a child, Who became totally dependent on His parents, Who didn’t use His powers to conquer the world. He knows that weakness alone is our tragedy, but given to God, offered to Him, and calling for His support–with His grace “power is made perfect in weakness.” Weakness is when we think about what we can do; power is when we think about what God is doing even through our weakness.
“Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure. And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.” (2 COR 11: 24-28)
Who are we to say that we have difficult days? If we compare our comfortable lives with St. Paul’s missions, we are really lucky. Some of these experiences are still common also for us: through “sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure.” Today we can be very grateful that we can participate in the same difficulties when we are in mission.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Gospel Acclamation)