Acts 15: 22-31 “…Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,…”
Psalm 57: 8-9, 10 and 12 “…I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O LORD....”
John 15: 12-17 “…This I command you: love one another.’”
St. Ignatius of Laconi (1701 – 1781), kept his promise to join the Franciscans, after praying for Mother Mary’s intercession when he fell ill (twice). Best know for his generous spirit, he also would go out and beg for food for the other brothers of his order. In this way, he got to know a good many people, especially the poor and the young children. He blessed them too with his presence and worked many healing miracles for them. Click here for more about this saint.
Some things just don’t change, in particular, the nature of people. Reading through today’s first reading from Acts, I could have been listening to people talk about their problem with rules for living in our world today. I know we don’t particularly like them, but admittedly we wouldn’t be a civilized society without rules/laws/commandments. In today’s reading we’re at the tail end of the story, where the Gentiles who have become Christians find out they’ll be released from some of the stricter rules and they are “delighted”.
As a child, I understood rules would help me make better decisions. The commandments helped me determine right from wrong. They were made with things to do, and things not to do. Willfully crossing some of those lines as a young adult did not bring me more happiness. Eventually, I wandered back towards following the commandments, and not too surprisingly I found happiness again.
Jesus summed up all of those commandments which have become ingrained in my being, with the words in today’s Gospel. He said, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” He simplified it, but it is not so simple to live. Jesus reasoned no one has greater love than to lay down their life for their friend, and He called us and we listened we are friends. He did lay down his life for his friends. He further explained, he had passed on all the wisdom from the Father, as a friend he is helping us live so as to find true happiness. This wisdom continues to be communicated through the Holy Spirit, remember Jesus told us he would not leave us orphans.
But this commandment, “Love one another” remains my more constant failing. Sometimes I fail to love my family, my friends, and other people who disagree with me on a multitude of issues. With Jesus’ teachings and all the fine examples of earthly people who lived saintly lives, I still fail to follow this simple commandment. So, I remain a student of this teaching, conscious of my shortcomings and observing others who seem to love the unlovable. It has been the subject of many a confession session. To be able to see “Jesus” in each person, as Mother Theresa did, and it appears our saint for today, Ignatius of Laconi, did as well is still my dream.