Homily-15th Week Ordinary Time-Cycle C
Sunday, July 14, 2019
In the 1st Reading today Moses tells the people that we must keep God’s commandments; and then in the Gospel we hear Jesus’ “Greatest Commandment”—that we must “love”.
A group of professional people posed this question to some 4 to 8 yr olds, “What does love mean?” I want to share some of their answers:
8 yr old Rebecca said: “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”
4 yr old Billy said: “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
From 5 yr old Karl: “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”
Chrissy, age 6: “Love is when you go out to eat and you give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.”
Terri, age 4: “Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”
Danny, age 7 said: “Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure it tastes OK.”
Bobby, age 8: “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
7 yr old Noelle: ”Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.”
Tommy, age 6: “Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”
Clare, age 6: “My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night, do you?”
Elaine, age 5: “Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”
Chris, age 7: “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.”
Mary Ann, age 4: “Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”
Jessica, age 8: “You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”
And, then these last 2: from Nikka, age 6: “If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”
And from a 4 yr old child whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
So, in today’s Gospel, someone asks Jesus how he can get into Heaven.
I’m guessing that that’s something every one of us wants, too, isn’t it? To become a saint. To get into heaven.
And, as I said a couple of minutes ago, Jesus refers the man who asked this question to the law, to the commandments; and Jesus confirms that that the most important commandment, the one that contains all the other commandments is this: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
See, my friends, God just wants 1 thing: He wants to bring us into Himself. He wants us to be closer to Him than we are even to our own selves. He wants to bring us, completely, into His love.
And what’s His love like? Well, St. Catherine of Seina, a young woman in 14th Century Italy, said God’s love for us is amore pazzo—a “crazy love”! God is head-over-heals in love with you! He loves you beyond your wildest imagination! God does anything for us. God does EVERYTHING for us.
He does it if we love Him back.
He does it if we don’t love Him back.
He loves us whether we deserve it (none of us really deserve it, do we!), or if we don’t deserve it. He even loves us whether we believe He exists or not!!!
Nothing can separate us from the love of God! Amore pazzo. That’s how God loves us: crazy love!
And Jesus spends His entire time on earth with us teaching, and showing. that. And he teaches and show us how we should respond to God’s crazy love for us: that we need to have an amore pazzo, a crazy love, for God—and for each other!
But this love we’re talking about isn’t just some sentiment. It’s a commitment. It’s love in action!
When we talk about these “Greatest Commandments” (which, by the way, appear in Matthew, Mark, and Luke—all 3 of them), these 2 are always connected: love God with everything we have, and love our neighbor. Why?
Back to Catherine of Siena. I think she can give us the answer.
One day it’s said that Catherine was speaking with God, and she asked Him how she could show her love for Him. She said, “My Lord, with my father, my mother, my brothers, and sisters, I can kiss them and hug them. I can do special things for them to show them how much I love them. But Lord, I can’t see you, I can’t touch you. How can I show you how much I love you?” Catherine said that God answered her that day: “Catherine, my dearest child, that’s why I put all the rest of these people on the planet with you. When you show your love for them, you’re showing your love for me.”
And THAT, my friends, is why Jesus told that man (and tells us) the story of the Good Samaritan.
Love is not just a sentiment. Love is not just psychological phenomenon. Love is not just feeling. It’s not just a thought. Love-must-be-action!
That’s what we learned from all those little kids I started with today. And that’s what we learn from the Good Samaritan. I’d suggest we all meditate on that Good Samaritan today.
I think there are at least 10 ways that might be involved as we “love my neighbor as myself”:
- Love is proactive: The Samaritan didn’t hesitate; he knew something had to be done; and, he just did it!
- Love is observant: The Samaritan “saw” the beaten man. Perhaps, we need to do more to notice those in need around us!
- Love is compassionate: the word compassionate comes from the Latin, “pati” (suffer) and “com” (with). So, “compassion” is “to suffer with”. The Samaritan not only pitied, he “suffered with” the beaten man.
- Love is responsive. It’s responsive no matter who the other is! In his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), Pope Benedict XVI wrote that when Jesus answered the question “who is my neighbor” by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan, He everything! Up until that day, “neighbor”, for a Jew, meant the Jewish man living next door. Not the Jewish woman or the Jewish child. Certainly not the non-Jewish person living next door. Now Jesus was saying “neighbor” is EVERYONE, even those you don’t like. Remember, Samaritans and Jews were enemies! That’s why Jesus used this example! Love is responsive.
- Love is costly: the Samaritan gave of his own money to take care of this man he didn’t know.
- Love is inopportune: the Samaritan had other places to go, other things to do. But stopped anyway!
- Love is healing: He certainly started to heal the man. Maybe began healing himself?
- Love is sacrificial. Sacrificial means: to act, expecting nothing in return.
- Love is communal: the Samaritan involved the innkeeper in his actions.
- Love is merciful: Mercy is “compassion in action”.
So, please, my friends, let us meditate sometime today or tonight on that story of the Good Samaritan, and see what we can learn from it, ourselves.
And most importantly, let us never forget: the Greatest Commandment is this: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and the second, is like it, you shall love your neighbor (and “your neighbor” means everyone else on earth—including those we don’t even know—and, even, those we don’t like) —and the 2nd is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”