Romans 13: 8-10 “…’You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.’…”
Psalm 112: 1b-2, 4-5, 9; “…He dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright; he is gracious and merciful and just…”
Luke 14: 25-33 “…’Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.’...”
St. Didacus (1400-1463) became a Secular Franciscan. He spent time as a hermit, as a missionary to the Canary Islands. While assigned to Rome to attend a canonization of St. Bernardine, he stayed on for three extra months to nurse several friars who fell sick. He was also a contemplative, and while not considered particularly intelligent, he taught by his example which spoke volumes.
Today’s readings remind me of a small wisdom saying from my childhood that stuck with me. It went something like this: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Especially today, we appreciate when people get to the point. And that seems to be what Jesus was trying to do when he provided the summary found in Paul’s letter to the Romans. First He lists some of the “Commandments” and then says a good summary would be: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” Treating others the way I want to be treated was an quick and easy litmus test for me.
The Psalm reading reminds us of the kind of reverence we should have for the Lord, using that “fear” word which really means reverence, not being afraid of the Lord. It also speaks high praise of the example an upright and just person is amongst us, saying they “dawn through the darkness, a light for the upright.” (Psalm 112:4)
Then in the Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus tries to impress upon the crowd a very serious point about being His disciple and what He expects when He calls us to follow Him. He uses 3 or 4 scenarios hoping that one will strike at our hearts and convict us. For me the first example that uses the language of hating father, mother, brother or sister is the hardest for me to hear. But what Jesus means is that if you are going to Follow Him and a family member tries to persuade you otherwise, or they themselves do something to keep you from following the Lord, you have to walk away from them and stand firm on your resolve. Sadly, there are families who have been torn apart, because of these kinds of pains. But, if you are to be an instrument of the Lord to help them understand your conviction of Faith, or even to bring them to your Faith, God will give you the words in essence the signal for what you are to do.
The other day I heard a call for more of us to think about evangelizing others about our Faith through our actions. There are large parts of the world, even in our own communities that have never heard of the teachings of Jesus Christ. People don’t feel imposed upon if they witness a person handling another person or situation in a Christ-like way. In this sense, we can all be evangelists for Christ just with the way we treat one another. It’s not that we will bring all people to the Faith, but Jesus wants everyone to hear or be a witness to the power of His Love. “… love your neighbor as yourself…”
These are all good teachings today and have given me a reason to rethink especially in the first reading about how I love my neighbor. Do I treat others the way I want to be treated? How does my family, my employer, my country treat others? How does it compare to the Christian ideal; is it the way I/we want to be treated?
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