Homily – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

No-one who hears this Gospel today would disagree with its content.  The centre of religious faith is love.  That is true equally for Judaism, Islam and Christianity.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.  It’s what people understand our faith to be about.  The thing that scandalises people more than anything else is when they look on and see that people of faith do not love: that instead they hate, they operate out of power, envy, exploitation and self-profit.

In this sense I believe that love is always calling us further and deeper.  Love is always challenging us to check ourselves and our relationships.  Love is always calling us to reflect more deeply on our motivations, our conversation, our deliberations.  Love sits before us not as a judge but as a beacon, a light, a fire burning before us.  God is love.  And God is always before us beckoning us further into the light and warmth that is God.  God’s love never goes out.  God’s offer of love is perpetual.  It is always to be trusted, to be relied upon, and it is such that we can always be sure of it.  God’s love precedes our love and is the very impetus and ground for which we too can love.

We are always being called more deeply and anew into the life of love and thus of God.  Sometimes this love is calling us to a particular person; to a one-on-one encounter in order to bring a word of hope, a word of peace, a word of reconciliation.  I can see that the other, my friend, my colleague, needs love.  Sometimes love is calling us onto the streets to speak out boldly.  It may be a Palm Sunday March for refugees and asylum seekers and the plight of the ongoing displaced peoples of the world.  Sometimes love calls us to quietly sit before pain and longing.  A friend of mine recently told me that he sometimes just goes and sits in the park below the hotel where asylum seekers in Melbourne are detained as they wait endlessly for a word on their future.  Sometimes love calls us to be helpless love, a quiet presence, a reflective longing, or just to keep a dream alive.

Love always asks us to give something of ourselves.  Sometimes that love is a leap of faith.  Sometimes it is an act of the greater good for all.  Pope Francis has talked about vaccination as an act of love.  Helping others do the same, he said, is also an act of love.  “Love for oneself, love for our families and friends, and love for all peoples.  Love is also social and political.”  Pope Francis notes that social and political love is built up through “small, individual gestures capable of transforming and improving societies.”  “Getting vaccinated is a simple yet profound way to care for one another, especially the most vulnerable,” he said.

Pope Francis then prayed to God that “each one of us can make his or her own small gesture of love.”  “No matter how small, love is always grand,” he said.  “Small gestures for a better future.”

For Christians the best way to love is get to know God.  And the best way to God is to get to know love as it was made visible in Jesus Christ who loved humanity to the end.

The call of love is still held out before us as Christ stands before us today as much as any day.  So let’s pray that we might know that love of Christ even more deeply today.

Fr Brendan

 

Homily Parish Priest

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