19th Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

One of the things that never fails to impress me is the generosity of so many of our parishioners. We may have an activity at the church or at another location, like our “Parish Picnic,” and so many of our church members come and set up or stay late cleaning and putting things away. At such a time, I’m always reminded of how good and kind we can be. I don’t think it is so surprising for us to think of good and kind people. We all know people who always are there for us. They may give a kind and encouraging word or may offer to help if we are in difficulty. While it may not be surprising to think that people can be kind, I wonder if it is so easy to think of God in a similar way?

The Psalm says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” I think that we pray to or reflect on God, we most usually call to mind other characteristics. We may relate to God as all-powerful or all knowing. It may be the greatness of God that forms most of our image and understanding of the Lord. And yet, while these aspects of God are certainly true, how easy is it for us to imagine and understand God as kind? In the Gospel, those listening to Jesus are both impressed and unimpressed. They like what he says and does, for the most part, but remember that he is not “great.” They ask, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” The Lord tells them he is the bread of life and “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” In other words, Christ gave his very self for our life.

We can understand a little clearer the beautiful kindness of God. We have sinfulness and imperfections within us. I know there are times when I fail to love. I may try to sneak by someone I find hard to love. When I manage to slip by without being seen, I do not have a sense of success. On the contrary, I feel I have given in to my selfishness. In so doing, I have failed to love. I know there are times when I fail to forgive. Maybe a word was spoken or an action done that hurt. I mull the words or actions around and around in my mind, and imagine the other person in the worst possible light. When I fail to forgive, I fail to love again. I want what Saint Paul writes in the Second Reading: “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” That’s what I want! To be “imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”

In order for us to be “imitators of God” to be tender- hearted, forgiving, generous, compassionate and loving, it is for us to know within our hearts that God, in his beautiful kindness, has given and is giving all these to us. When I fail to love another person, I think that God must be so disappointed and even disgusted with me. But this is not so for any of us, for God gives his life for the life of the world. The life God offers us is a life that gives itself to his love. It is not marked by fear, it is not weighed down by malice and hatred, and it is not limited by self-righteous opinion. It is grown and freed by his tender-hearted and merciful love. When we begin to know this within our hearts, a most amazing realization starts to be proclaimed. Our God is gentle and kind. And his beautiful kindness is for you. “Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed. The poor one called, and the Lord heard, and saved that person from every trouble.” 

God bless, and take care!

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