22nd Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

The call of the Christian, with regard to love, is unequivocal – we are called to love no matter the what. The sentence seems simple and easily agreeable, yet we know from our own lives that it is not so simple, nor so easy. There are things we have experienced that all left scars on our hearts. And the scars have made it difficult for love to penetrate. In some ways, though love is desired, it sometimes feels out of place. Hurtful actions may have been done to us, hurtful words spoken to us and because of these hurts, we can feel the ever presence of anger, hostility and the desire for “payback.” There’s an old saying, “Don’t get mad, get even.” Such a feeling is understandable and may even be some thing that one may recommend to another. Despite its “common sense” appeal, when we quiet ourselves and listen to our heart, it doesn’t seem to fit.

In this week’s Gospel, we hear Jesus speaking to his disciples about the suffering he will soon undergo in Jerusalem. Peter has just identified Christ as “the Son of the living God,” and when he hears Jesus speaking in this way, he takes Jesus aside to correct him. I can imagine the confusion within Peter. For sure he expects a different expression of Christ as the Messiah, but so too is he lost by the strength of Jesus’ words. Jesus will not allow himself to live a limited love. He will not proclaim God’s Kingdom and the reign of love, while at the same time, through his actions, constructing a sort of boundary. Rather, he proclaims and lives the absolute reality and authority of God’s love. If there are those who hope to demonstrate the limitation of the love of the Father revealed through Christ by plotting against him, Jesus will not co-operate. He will fulfill the Father’s mission, he will proclaim the Father’s truth and he will reveal the Father’s will. Love does not have a limit. As a follower of the Lord, we too can know this most incredible reality – God’s love is not given for one reason and then withdrawn for another. God’s love is eternally given to each of us. And as we allow this truth of our faith to grow within our hearts, the things we may carry within us that cast shadows upon life, that say “don’t forgive, get your payback,” they begin to feel out of place.

There are times in which we may want to hold on to our anger. Over and over again, we think about the hurtful words or actions we have experienced. We feel the shadows encroaching on and limiting the life we desire within our souls. But the Lord is clear; we are not called to think in such ways, we are called to think “as God does.” As Jeremiah writes, “within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” This week we are gently invited by the Lord to let our hearts be melted by his love. We don’t really want our payback; we want to live and to live fully.

We don’t really want to hurt another; we want to be loved and to love. And so, though it may seem to simplistic, why not say within our hearts, “if this is what I want, then this is what I will do.” We are loved by a love that is eternal, a love that has no limit. To our Lover, let us say, with a knowing smile, “O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed.”

God bless and take care!
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