Jesus’ command to us…is steadfast—it never changes: Love one another, as I have loved you…I am the Lord, your God; you shall have no strange gods before me. The gods he’s talking about, with a small “g” …are the people, and things that He created—as a necessity of life…or, for our pleasure--that we many times choose…instead of Him! All God wants for us—is our happiness…but somehow…we find ways to offend him…with the very same things that he has provided us with—for that happiness. We place other people, and things before him. We don’t honor and praise him in community at Holy Mass, because there’s someone, we want to be with, instead…or, some sports event, or social gathering—that’s more appealing. God loves it…when we forego his company…because we are helping a sick friend or relative…because we are accompanying him…in that manner, instead…but otherwise…he is offended; and we know well, that the definition of sin, is “offending God.”
The opposite of offending, or insulting God, is to please him, and follow the command of Jesus: to take up our cross and follow him. Our individual crosses, are an opportunity to share in His cross. His cross was weighed down, with the sins of every man and woman, that ever lived, now living, and is yet to live. For him to know…that we gladly endure our crosses, for his sake…gladdens his heart…and, in our small way…we participate, in healing the world’s suffering. Human nature being what it is…we can probably all agree…that our cross embraces both, an emotional and physical concern: possibly some troubled relationship, some physical ailment, and the inability to fulfill our worldly desires. Jesus assures us, that it’s better, to care for our souls, than to enjoy what the world has to offer--outside of his will. The easiest way to look after our souls, is to look after each other. It all comes back to the same thing when we follow Jesus…it’s, at the same time…the easiest…and the most difficult way…because; more often than not…we don’t, exactly, make it easy, for others to love us. We look at the state of the world, and we can see how hating one another, causes nothing but violence, devastation, and death. It would be different, if we were to follow the “golden rule” …Do unto others, as we would have them do unto us. On the contrary, we tend to want things our way, our power, our wealth. And, yet, God has created us, good and loveable…our basic instincts, are to love one another.
It’s too bad, that the times we most show love, to each other, are during times of crisis; whenever there is a natural disaster, or terroristic attack…when a catastrophic event hurts many people. Mass murders around the world, have people of good faith speaking in one voice…uniting in prayer, support, and assistance. After 911, the world echoed, “We are all Americans!” After the recent attack in Manchester, England, the world cried, “We are Manchester!” Last month, after a Senator was shot…while practicing for a baseball game…between political rivals; the suggestion was: that words have a lot to do with violence. It was proposed, that rivals tone down their rhetoric, so as not to incite the general public…to resort to violence. There is some skepticism, about how long such a positive approach to relationships, would last. But, the good news is, that if only one person is prophetic…and a peacemaker; that person will be pointing to the example of the ultimate Peacemaker, Himself: Our Lord, Jesus Christ! Deep down in our hearts, everyone likes a person of peace, and it can be contagious…in our homes, and in this country, we love.
This week we celebrate the 4th of July in our country…so blessed by God. In thanksgiving, we approach Him in Holy Communion…praying, that the Crucified and Risen Lord, will bless our efforts, to unite to solve our healthcare crisis…and provide all citizens, the medical attention, God wills for us. To be selfish, is to lose our lives…to be generous, in the manner of Christ…will guarantee our company…with him…forever.