Homily for St. Jude Mission
Monday, October 27, 2014
Witness to Love
The story goes that as St. John the Apostle was reaching his old age, he would gather his local Church together and always preach the same message: “Love one another! Love one another!”
Finally someone asked him why his message was always the same: “Love one another.”
He responded, “Because that is what the Master would always say.”
It is often said that your life may be the only Gospel some people will ever read. And in today’s modern world, that may be more true than ever before. Many people have a deep hunger for God but don’t know where to begin to look. Some are afraid of Christ, distrustful of the Church, turned off by what they think religion is. But no one can deny love – it is the clearest way to show God to a cynical world.
I love what Blessed Pope Paul VI said: “Modern man listens more easily to witnesses than it does to teachers, and if it listens to teachers, it is only because they are first witnesses.” The modern world has had enough of people who tell us what to do, who give lip service to the commands of Christ, but end up being petty, deceitful, corrupt.
St. Paul gives us in the first reading some aspects of love – love is kind, compassionate, forgiving, pure, grateful, generous. These must be words that describe any Christian. Do they describe you? If you had to ask your family, your coworkers, your classmates to give some words to tell about you, do you think they would use these words?
I love the story of St. Rose Duschene, a nun who served as a missionary to the Indian tribes in Missouri and Midwest states. She struggled so much with learning the Indian tongue that her superior didn’t want to send her on a mission to the Native American tribes, but her fellow nuns urged the superior to accept her for mission work because they said her example would speak louder than her words. And it was true – though she couldn’t communicate with the Indians, they all noticed her holiness, and they nicknamed her “Woman Who Prays Always”. She was able to make converts simply because of the power of her example of love.
We have heard a lot during this past year about the four themes of our Diocesan Synod. One of the biggest concerns, for the Bishop and the wider church in Bridgeport, is our need for better evangelization in our church. How can we effectively proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world that both hungers for Him and rejects Him? Truthfully, the only successful evangelization begins when we ourselves are set ablaze with love for God and this becomes reflected in our radical love for our neighbor. As St. Paul tells us, “Be imitators of God!” Wow – that’s a high calling! Love like God loves!
And this love is only credible if it is linked to sacrifice. Anyone – whether they know the love of Jesus or not – can love when it’s easy, can love when it is pleasant to do so. But if we are to imitate God, how did He show His love? The Cross. Sacrifice. Loving when it’s tough.
So for us, that means looking at that difficult coworker as an opportunity to love radically. That means patience with our kids when they are getting on our last nerve. That means befriending the kid who no one else likes. That means forgiving our spouse when they offend us. That means obeying our parents’ difficult rules. Love doesn’t mean doing whatever you want – it means doing what’s right. Not what’s easy, not what’s fun. But sacrifice is genuine love, a love that the world can believe in.
I was asked a very good question once that has stuck with me – if you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? If someone were to look at your life, would they wonder why you loved for nothing in return, when it was tough? A question we all ought to ask ourselves. What sacrifices have you made today for love? If you haven’t made a sacrifice for love today, then you haven’t really loved.
Be imitators of God – a God who was so madly in love with us that He would gladly give up everything – His glory, Heaven, His very life upon the Cross – to win our hearts to Him. Imitate that example of love, and the world will know God.