“We, though many, are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them…” (ROM 12: 5-6)
Fortunately, we need each other because we are not complete; we “are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” With “the grace given to us,” we can use our “gifts that differ,” and together we can do much, much more. Looking for the common good, we can grow in our unity, taking care not only of our mission, but also of our relationship.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.’” (MT 18: 21-22)
Our question—“must I forgive if my brother sins against me?” and universal answer—for sure we must forgive. But the problem is not here; more important is—“how often”? And this is far beyond our expectation: “not seven times but seventy-seven times,” which generally means—always. There is no other way for us except to follow God’s word. If He says seventy-seven times, it means—no less. Fortunately for us, even if we are below these standards, He always is faithful.
“Let your countenance shine upon your servant and teach me your statutes.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (EPH 4:31-32.5:1-2)
Our Lord asks us today to “be imitators of God” as a married couple, as parents, friends, neighbors and members of community or society. Our LORD “handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God”, so we can “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another,” making a gift of self, changing ourselves for the edification of our spouses or friends, and respecting their dignity and vocation. We can be “a fragrant aroma” for this world.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord;whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (MT 16: 25)
It is like being a giver of self versus a demander, who’s making an insistent and peremptory request, made as if by right. It is like looking more for what I can do for my spouse or friends versus saving my life for my pleasure only and using others for this. We receive freedom to choose—“whoever wishes….”
“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness; for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country.” (MT 14: 35)
How important for society is the scenario: “when the men of that place recognized him.” Sometimes even one man will be enough. When we receive grace to recognize Our Lord’s presence within His word, we can always “send word to all the surrounding country” like our family, our friends or our neighbors.
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” (Gospel Acclamation)
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” (MT 9, 2)
The most important thing is “forgiven sins.” More important than health. Because “sins” means: I do not need God; I have better plan for myself; I am independent and self-sufficient. When we accept God’s unique gift of forgiveness and mercy, we can base our life with Him and with our brothers and sisters on true values: trust, relationship, protection, dependence and love.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation”. (Gospel Acclamation)
“Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.” (2 COR 8: 13-14)
When we have something more than our brothers and sisters, we can share this with them: “supply their needs.” When we have something less than others, this gives them the opportunity to share with us: “their abundance may also supply your needs.” It could be 10 minutes more I have; it could be one experience more I have; it could be … something really simple, but creativity in charity could bring me closer to my brothers and sisters.
“Our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.” (Gospel Acclamation)
So this has happened at last – we are so happy to be the hosts of the international Program 3 in Poland, near the metropoly of Wroclaw, in a small village named “Krzydlina Mała”, at the retreat center of the Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We started today with the Mass on the Feast of Her Immaculate Heart, hoping and believing she is taking us all under her tender and maternal protection: the ones present here, the ones who had enrolled but could not come, the participants and the organizers, and those joining us remotely in their prayers, for which we are so very grateful.
It is also a very special time for me. As a person involved in the “overseas” activity of the Foundation, I have known many of our allies only from correspondence. To meet them in person is a wonderful thing – to which I’d been looking so much forward.
The Program is running in the double, bilingual version: one for the Polish-speaking group, and the other for the English-speaking one. A tough task for Fr. Jay: giving a lecture by lecture, switching languages, with less than one hour break between them (if any). It is also a challenge for my and Andrew’s four-month old son, who is among the youngest coaches of Love and Life Programs 😉
The couples made the effort to come here from Scotland (our Foundation’s IT Team), England, Belgium, and Mexico – and of course Poland. Among nationalities we have also Venezuela and Colombia. It’s so great to see that God works in people’s hearts in such distant parts of the world, and living by the grace of the Programs becomes an everyday reality for so many. When we share our experience during the workshop part, it turns out that our ups and downs, and problems to deal with are the same – like protecting your children in the era of technological revolution or balancing life and work.
We are asking for your support in prayers and offering your acts of love for this event and for all us involved – we count on you as part of the “global parish”, as Beatriz Gonzalez (who coordinates Programs in Latin America) says. Thank you so much for being with us.
“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 JN 4: 10)
God comes with initiative first: “He loved us.” His love for us is unconditional, total and fruitful. To cover all our sins and weaknesses, He “sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” We are invited to love one another like He loves, without demanding and without conditions. This is possible not because we can do it but because He can do it within us.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.” (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. ‘I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.’” (JN 15: 9-11)
The Liturgy of the Word is never afraid to proclaim the same message over and over again: “remain in my love.” Our Lord shares with us His love for His Father and His Father’s love for Him and for us; He shares not only the Father’s commandments to “remain in his love” but also His joy that our joy “might be complete.”
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Gospel Acclamation)