“He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor.” (LK 14: 7-8)
We call this savoir vivre, customs of polite society. All of these were created by catholic society because of Our Lord’s rules based on love and respect. Many of us had a sort of “special training” as kids: how to shake hands with family members and strangers, how to answer politely, how to behave at the table using silver or when you can sit and how to sit when with adults. We had special classes when in the Seminary, sort of diplomatic protocol when welcoming or presenting groups of people on a variety of occasions. All of these sometimes complicated rules were based on one crucial rule—show your love and respect to others, stay humble, think more about others than about yourself. The societies based on these customs sometimes lost their Catholic identity, but as long as they kept respect and behaved as gentlemen, they keep the essence of catholicism.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, ‘Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?’ But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him. Then he said to them ‘Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?’” (LK 14: 3-5)
Love is always a concern for the other person, comforting or supporting him/her, pulling him/her out, bringing him/her joy and hope, creating an amazing atmosphere and place for growth. Love is in giving, sharing, admiring, and respecting our brothers and sisters. Love reacts immediately, it doesn’t wait for the next occasion or better option; love reacts because the action is needed. Love comes from our hearts and is provoked by our hearts—the best place to hear Our Lord’s voice and to follow Him.
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.” (LK 13: 33)
The moment when God created this world and us in this world was also the beginning of our inner journey to heaven. And this mission has no end, and no one can stop this mission, because it was started and will be finished only by God. When we are invited to continue this mission, we are following God’s steps, and we just do what should be done “today, and tomorrow, and the following day.” Always following Our Lord and always supported by His grace and power.
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles.” (LK 6: 12-13)
What is our first thought when we listen to this sentence: “and he spent the night in prayer to God”? Do we think more about “action,” “doing something” like “praying” or do we think more about presence, about being with somebody, staying connected, in a relationship? How often prayer is for us one of many different actions to do, to complete, a task to finish. For Our Lord, prayer is the time to be together, to stay connected, to contemplate God’s love and beauty. And this is the right beginning for all other actions, like “He chose Twelve.” Right actions need the right preparation; as human beings, we need to start with something which promotes our beings firstly not doing: more to be, not more to do.
“We praise you, O God, we acclaim you as Lord; the glorious company of Apostles praise you.” (Gospel Acclamation)
Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.” (LK 13: 18-19)
We are growing, we are moving to perfection, which is quite simply—to love the best way. If today we can’t be totally unconditional in our relationship, when we lose our gentleness or respect and we are not a free and creative and joyful gift of self, this is only an indication that we are in progress, that we are still growing. When we are “fully grown,” we become like “a large bush” and all kinds of “the birds of the sky” can dwell in our branches. Between today and “fully grown,” there is just one simple action: put as much love as you can into all of your actions.
“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; You have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, ‘Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.’ He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.” (LK 13: 11-13)
What can people see when they are “incapable of standing erect”? Our horizon is so limited; we can’t see anything from the right perspective. Maybe she blamed God, maybe her poor life, maybe people who weren’t nice to her. When Our Lord “laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight” immediately her situation and world view changed: “she glorified God.” When we glorify God, we stand up straight; we see the world from the right perspective. We are living to glorify God.
“Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (MT 22: 36-40)
We have similar questions, but on a more daily basis: what should I do right now? How can I use my “free time” more effectively? Do I have time for my prayer, or do I have time for my readings? All of these are simple questions of my hidden priorities—who is the first and the most important in our lives? And the only answer for all of these questions is very simply—will it bring me closer to unconditional love? Will it help me to love God “with all my heart, soul, and mind”? And will it help me to love my spouse and our children “with all my heart, soul and mind”? There is nothing more important than to grow in love. God is love and whatever we do to be closer to Him, to imitate Him, brings Him directly to our hearts.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future.” (LK 13: 8-9)
If we really want to achieve a great life, we need to learn how to postpone satisfaction for the future. Our ego wants to achieve satisfaction immediately, but true fighters, people who achieve a lot, can wait for results and satisfaction for a long time. Working hard day after day, making small victories every day, and doing things that nobody wants to do, but should be done, is a matter of maturity.
“I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord, but rather in his conversion that he may live.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (LK 12: 56)
How many people are living in “the present time”? How often people are living in the past, in their traumas and failures, or in the future, expecting that somehow, magically, everything will change for the better and we will live happily after. We have only “the present time;” we have all resources and all we need to take responsibility for our days and for our relatives. To live in the present time is a challenge, but this is the only way to live free, creative, and joyful.
“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (LK 12: 49)
We do, whatever we can to do, to help couples make their relationship better, healthier, and more conscious. We organize Programs, whenever we can, or when we can’t because of the virus, we try to be as much flexible, as possible, to help people. There is nothing to stop us when we are following Our Lord’s intention “to set the earth on fire.”
“I consider all things so much rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” (Gospel Acclamation)