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DO WE LIVE OUR MISSION AND MESSAGE OF LOVE?

Father Francis's picture
Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

2 Tim. 2:8-15 & Mk. 12:28-34

Saint Paul is so sure of his mission and message. His mission is to preach the Good News that "Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David." It is on this account that he has to endure imprisonment but he knows, even though his enemies can chain him, they cannot chain God's news. He is prepared to bear all his tribulations so that other people may be saved. His message is one of hope and encouragement. If we die with Christ we shall certainly live with Him, and if we remain faithful to Him, He will never desert us. Jesus will never disown us for we are part of Him and He simply cannot disown Himself.

Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful to his own mission, to be a man who promotes peace and does all he can to settle disputes and arguments. It appears from Paul's words that Timothy had had to deal with disagreements and urges him to establish unity. His message is to preach the truth of the Gospel, simply and unequivocally.

Jesus tells us in today's Gospel that all we have to do is to love God and to love our neighbour. It sounds so simple and easy - but is it? We have so many reasons for loving God and He is goodness and kindness itself. But loving our neighbour can be an entirely different matter!

You tell a man to love the person who murdered his wife; tell the daughter to love her father who is abusing her; tell the thousands of Syrians who have lost their families and their homes to love those who were responsible for the bombings; tell the worker to love his boss or colleague who is constantly being a bully … now, it is not simple and easy. What do we tell them? Must all these people, and there are millions of them, love their neighbour?

The answer is to be found in the statement, "Love one another as I have loved you" rather than in "Love your neighbour as yourself." How has Jesus loved us? No one was more ill-treated in this world than He was although as God He deserved the utmost love and respect from everyone. But we, men and women through our sins, nailed Him to that Cross. Knowing beforehand how we would treat Him now He willingly went to the most cruel death so that we could have a home in His Father's kingdom. When He was spat upon, brutally scourged, crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross, He still loved each one of us and made excuses for us. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

If we do not love our enemy, our neighbour, we do not love God. Loving God and loving our neighbour are one. As Saint John says, "How can you say you love God Whom you cannot see and not love your neighbour whom you can see?" It was not easy for Jesus and it will not be easy for us. But Jesus is our example and inspiration of how we have to love our neighbour who is our enemy.

Lord Jesus, give us the help we need to be able to follow Your example, to love all who have offended us as You have loved us.

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