Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Love One Another"

Readings for March 24, 2013, Palm Sunday:

Second Sunday of Advent 2012

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
March 24, 2013

Much has happened since father left us three months ago, but we'll leave that to him to tell us the stories. I suppose we can say that much has happened here as well as we with great joy welcome a new Pope by the name of Francis.

So I beg your patience as I start my homily today, the way in the past I have concluded: you all be Good, be Holy, preach the Gospel always and if necessary use words! As this little exchange becomes popular between you and me further explanation becomes necessary, in that we must know, who we are, who we represent, and that we love one another as God has loved us, in Christ Jesus.

This exchange is a reflection not onlyof pope Francis, but also St. Francis, who you will remember taking a young man out to preach the gospel on a particular day: returns to the abbey and the young man says to Francis but father we didn't do any preaching today and Frances answers, if necessary use words. And I would add, do all things in Love!

"Love one another. Love your neighbor as yourself." Ancient commandments. When these words are genuinely heard and obeyed, however, there is utter newness. New, revolutionary things begin to happen. Consider how new and even startling it is when, centuries after Leviticus, a man appeared in Palestine who loved his neighbors as himself. When the commandment was actually lived out, something so new happened that it threatened all those who had an investment in the status quo. The religious establishment in Jerusalem couldn't handle Jesus' radical obedience to the ancient commandment that they had known all their lives. The commandment to love was old, and as long as it stayed in print, OK. When it was embodied, it was something new, with awesome implications.

Before he was crucified, Jesus gave his disciples a renewed commandment. It was not merely, love one another. It was to love one another just as I have loved you. In Jesus, a higher kind of love was revealed. Divine Love transcends all forms of human loving. Jesus' love was like God's love, gracious, and self giving to the point of costly sacrifice. No one has greater love than this, he said, then to lay down one's life for one's friends. Then he demonstrated it on the cross.

From the feast of St. Mark, from last Thursday," go into the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature, hallelujah."

Pope Francis this past Wednesday, said, "Christians know they will be judged at the end of time on how they used the talents God has given them and how they served others especially the poor." He also admitted that we will always have the poor with us, he objected, however, when governments made people poor.

Being as how we belong to a church, that one of its basic tenants is a fundamental option for the poor, recalling this is important for our salvation. Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of using the talents God has given each person, and, in both Italian and Spanish, he urged young people to recognize their gifts and seek ways to use them to serve God, others and the whole world. And of course this is not only true for young people it is true for those of us getting on in age.

This past Monday I removed from the tabernacle 65 hosts and began my rounds, concluding about noon, and found I was even running short. I'm not asking for a pat on the back, I am simply doing what I must do. But the question came up at the nursing home why am I doing what I'm doing on Monday mornings, and finally, I said, for no other reason than that, I love you! But it also challenges us to see that these people that I see on Monday mornings are now classified as being poor among us. And you may ask how can I say that because most certainly some of these people are very wealthy. But it really isn't the point is it. When in our lifetime whether it is the unborn, whether it is the handicapped or the aged, being poor is far less to do with wealth than it does with the inability to care for oneself.

Pope Francis adds: "Faith is a gift and salvation is a grace," but in order to bear fruit, God's grace requires us to be open, to give a free and concrete response." And I would add, as we respond to the poorest among us.

So you all be Good, be Holy, preached the Gospel always and if necessary use words.

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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