10th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C (Lk 7:11-17)

We hear today of the restoration of life from death and it would be easy to speak of these miraculous events and the impact that they had on the two widows and their sons. But I believe that what is of far greater importance is to recognize in these events the manifestation and expression of God’s love, a love that is unbounded and limitless.

Jesus resurrecting Man at Naim

Jesus resurrecting Man at Naim

Few would doubt that God loves us. What is a far greater challenge is to understand and accept the true nature of His love. God’s love is beyond measure, it is unconditional, and it is eternal. It is a love full of forgiveness and complete acceptance of our human weaknesses and of our failures.

What is also true is that we may never grasp the true depth and meaning of God’s love. As with our feeble attempts to know or define God — who is unknowable — we cannot adequately express in human terms the nature of His feelings for all of His creation.  We use words such as love, forgiveness, and acceptance yet even as we utter them we recognize their inadequacy to convey the incomprehensible.

What we must recognize is that although we cannot comprehend the true measure of God’s love, we are bound, by the very life received from Him, to love Him in return. How are we to love God? Jesus tells us “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and … and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Mt 22:37-38]

And therein lies the rub. How glibly we confess to loving God. We often say it without thought or feeling; we seldom say it with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. And we conveniently forget our neighbor.

The commandment to love is like a coin with two sides: one side is love of God and the other side is love of neighbor. One coin, two sides. You cannot love God if you hate your neighbor nor can you love your neighbor without loving God. What Jesus tells us is that it requires a triple-play: one, you must love God; two, you must love yourself; and three, you must love your neighbors.

But how can you love your neighbor who wishes to do you harm? How do you love those who inflict pain and suffering on others, who perform despicable deeds, or who are instruments of evil?

Consider that each of us was created by God and born into this world from the womb of a mother. A mother loves her child no matter what her child may or may not do. She loves her child, not for the child’s deeds or actions, but for the pure and simple fact that the child is hers. She loves her child because she gave so much of herself in order to produce another living, breathing human being. How much more, then, must God love us.

We often find it difficult to love others because we are incapable of seeing beyond the surface, of knowing what lies within another’s heart, mind and soul. We see what is exposed but can only glimpse at what is hidden.  But God sees into our hearts and as Father Ron Rolheiser wrote recently “God understands. Crassly put, God isn’t stupid! If we, with our limits, can see beyond wound and struggle to a goodness that lies still deeper within a human heart, how much more does God see our goodness, understand our struggles and forgive our weaknesses.”

The readings today speak to us of life and death and life again. They provide us with images of life as we know it now, of a new life that awaits us, and of the fullness of God’s love. A poem written by Sir Rabindranath Tagore, published in 1918, Lover’s Gift and Crossing #71, expresses this so very well:

I remember my childhood when the sunrise,
like my play-fellow, would burst in to my bedside
with its daily surprise of morning;
when the faith in the marvelous bloomed
like fresh flowers in my heart every day,
looking into the face of the world in simple gladness;
when insects, birds and beasts, the common weeds,
grass and the clouds had their fullest value of wonder;
when the patter of rain at night brought dreams
from the fairyland, and mother’s voice in the evening
gave meaning to the stars.

And then I think of death,
and the rise of the curtain
and the new morning
and my life awakened in its fresh surprise of love.

I believe that it is that “fresh surprise of love” that embodies God’s love. If we live our lives loving God and all that surrounds us — even the common weeds, the unlovable, and the despised — then on that new morning we shall awaken to a fresh surprise of love.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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