Love and Truth
By Fr. Robert J. Carr
Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
There was a column by Douglas Kmiec in the Chicago Tribune Friday (May 26th) indicating that churches can expect to be sued and attacked by groups that disagree with them. The goal of these groups will be to put them out of business. This will be the next wave of attacks against the Catholics and it will be done in state courts and not in federal courts. Are you ready for the next attack?
I bring that up in light of what we see in today's readings. Remember, the early Christians suffered for their faith intensely. There are several ways we can respond to such pressure and we have, over the past several years, seen the responses people can make. We can give up and leave the Church. We can turn bitter and angry against the world or we can understand that such persecution is part of being Catholic and we can choose to deepen on our faith in Christ. What is your choice?
If you know those who have left the Church over the abuse scandal, then know they would not be able to maintain their faith in the coming wave predicted in the Chicago Tribune. Yet, you, obviously don't number yourself among them. If you turn angry and bitter, you will be like others who may or may not attend Church but who live in a black hole of sadness and faithlessness. They never come to meet Christ, even if they can recite the Catechism backwards and forwards.
However, if you listen to today's readings and also know your faith well, you will see this as an opportunity to grow in faith.
Religion has had a bad name for sometime now that is because it is all lumped into one category. If we use religion as the only category of faith then we can lump Pope Benedict, The Dalai Lama and Osama Bin Laden into one category as they are all religious leaders. Yet, each faith whether we are talking the Eastern forms, Catholicism or Radical Islam is radically different from each other. As for us, the question is not whether or not blowing up buildings is an option, but rather why blowing up buildings is never an option. That answer can be found in our second reading and our gospel.
John calls us to love. The problem is what does that mean? Both John Lennon and Leo Buscagalia called people to love, but I choose not to follow the instructions of the former and I think the latter needs some further understanding. This is where the gospel comes in. Jesus tells us that the Apostles are consecrated in truth. You and I, by seeking to live the gospel, are likewise consecrated in truth. Therefore, our form of love is rooted in the Truth that is Jesus Christ. Any other form of love is not to the level of that which is Christ.
Such love involves deepening our relationship with Christ and then seeking to do his will because we trust him completely. The more we respond in truth, the more we will find ourselves focused on Christ and trusting in his words to respond in our action. This means it is important to know the bible and to act on its teachings. Let me give you an example.
How do we respond when people reject us because of our faith or because of our stand on an issue? The answer to that question tells us how seriously we take the word of God. You cross me and we can get into a fight. Now, think for a minute how incredibly stupid that would look for me dressed as a priest getting into a fight with somebody who either is or is not Catholic, even if I was justified.
However, what if I respond with the interest of not securing my position on an issue or a problem, but with pleasing God in love and truth? That might lead to a response that no one was expecting. One great example that I keep in mind is the case of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Never forget that he was a Baptist preacher. Anyway Martin Luther King at one protest in Alabama was beaten by a police officer and thrown into a cell in the county jail. The minute he got into the jail cell, he got down on his knees and prayed for that police officer. Why? Well Jesus tells us to do that.
Now I want you to notice what I just said. I just described for you that action of Dr. Martin Luther King doing something that Jesus tells us to do. Using that action, I have told you that he was an ordained minister, a Baptist preacher. I told you his name, and his title. I told you who he was, where he was and what he did after a police officer beat him. Notice something else. I know nothing of the police officer except that he beat Martin Luther King somewhere in Alabama.
King's obedience to the words of Jesus have such an effect that 40 years later I am using his action in a homily. His actions in the face of grave injustice challenges us today. Notice something else, what challenges us is not his cause, his race, his position, his status but his action in obedience to Jesus.
He was no perfect person, we all know that as none of us are. But he, nevertheless, responded to the words of Jesus obediently.
Jesus tells us that we must be rooted in his truth, that our love for one another must be rooted in his truth. If we do that, then we will be serving God in a way that will leave some people speechless and will bear the fruit of leading people to Christ. That task is something we commit ourselves to do at our baptism. Yet, the more we do that, the more we find joy and the other fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus makes it clear in the gospels that there are two kinds of people: those who embrace the ways of the world, who are also condemned and those who embrace the ways of Christ who have life in Christ. You are the latter if you do the will of God. Yet, that means you understand the reality around you in ways that the worldly cannot comprehend. You know that the more you find Christ, the more you find life. So the more you seek to do the loving will of God in Truth, the more you will learn and live realities that many people, who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to receive an education, will never know.
John is calling us to be people of love and Jesus qualifies that love by telling us to do so in truth. That combination leads us to become people whose lives speak volumes of what it means to be human. That is our baptismal call and when we live our baptismal call, we are on our way to a joy that never ends, eternal life in Christ filled with the Holy Spirit.
http://www.revrobertjcarr.com MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Priest, 617 381-4745
Jesus Christ, Choice, holiness, faith, persecution, crisis
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