Love One Another

5th Sunday of Easter (April 24, 2016)

Acts 14:21-27

Psalm 145:8-13

Revelation 21:1-5

John 13:31-35

I want to paint a picture of our modern society with the help of popular Catholic author and speaker Matthew Kelly. In one of his books he writes,

“We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers. We spend more, but have less. We buy more and enjoy it less. We have bigger houses, but smaller families. We have more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees, but less common sense. More knowledge, but less judgment. More experts, yet more problems. More medicines, but less health. We drink too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch too much TV, and pray too little. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We have higher incomes, but lower morals. We have learned how to make a living, but not how to live life. We have added years to life, but not life to years. We have been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet our new neighbor. We have conquered outer space, but not inner space. We have done larger things, but not better things. We have cleaned up the air, but are constantly polluting our souls. We plan more, but accomplish less. We have learned to rush, but not to wait. We have more food, but less fulfillment. More kinds of food, but less nutrition. More acquaintances, but fewer friends. There is greater world peace, but more domestic warfare. We have more leisure in our life, but less enjoyment of life. These are days of two incomes and fancier houses, but more broken homes. Our culture is becoming increasingly too busy, too noisy, and it’s pace too fast.

I personally think this description is eerily accurate. So my question is…WHY? What is going on with us that we have allowed society to get this way? I believe our society has gotten so off base because too many people have allowed themselves to follow their own path oblivious to God’s plan for their lives. I’m saying that we are a people in need of direction because without direction, we tend to wonder around like lost sheep. We are in need of a shepherd.

Last week, we heard from John’s Gospel that Jesus is the Good Sheppard. This week that Good Sheppard tells us what to do. Jesus tells us, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

And just how much did Jesus love us? All the way to the cross! He also, however, showed us His love in many other ways. For example, when Jesus encountered a woman caught in adultery, He calmly spoke with her in such a way that allowed her to see her sin and then told her to go and sin no more. When Jesus saw the moneychangers in the temple taking advantage of the poor, He furiously flipped over their tables to grab their attention. These two examples show us that there are different degrees of love and even Jesus got frustrated. After all, people can be frustrating at times, right? Anyone who deals with the public can attest to this! But Jesus did what needed to be done and He said what needed to be said in those situations. Why? Because He cared about their souls. He wanted them to return to God’s path.

Now, sometimes, when we hear this verse commanding us to “love one another,” our politically correct culture has a tendency to want to twist it. For example, when we try to correct someone on a topic of faith and morals or explain the “why” behind Church teachings to someone who disagrees with the teaching, we’re told we aren’t being “loving” or we’re “judging.” “You Christians, always judging and putting down others!” Anyone ever hear that line? Makes me want to gag and roll my eyes every time. Now granted, there’s a right and a wrong way to handle very delicate situations and we need to deal with people in the most loving way possible. But you know, sometimes we need to get in there and flip a few tables over just like Jesus did in the temple! Sometimes we need to stretch our comfort zones and put ourselves out there in order to share our faith with others. After all, if we are to love one another as Jesus Christ loves us, we should want our friends and family to end up in Heaven, right? Therefore, we need to be willing to lay down our lives for those we love because someone’s soul… their salvation… is more important than our comfort level.

You know… contrary to popular belief, there ARE absolute truths. You want to get out of your comfort level? Talk about absolute truth! Tell people they are responsible for their actions. Tell them hell is real. Do this, not out of fear and hate, but out of love. Love compels us to want others to be “better” in the eyes of God. So what’s holding us back? I do want to stress and remind you that we need to make an honest attempt to talk about our faith in a loving way. Better yet, we need to be examples to others by actually living out our faith and pray that people will be influenced by our actions… so much… that they will “go and sin no more.”

On the other hand, if we keep shying away from teaching the Truth and Love of Jesus Christ, we’re going to keep living in the culture described by Matthew Kelly when I first began this homily. We need to be the change the world so desperately needs.

And how do we do that? By changing our focus. By changing our direction. By imitating the love shown to us by Jesus Christ. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has opened the gates of heaven and allowed us the opportunity to have eternal life.

That, my friends, is True Love. That is the message Jesus Himself has commissioned all of us to spread to every corner of the world. So if you’re not doing it already, I challenge you to get off our hind end, get out there and start loving one another as Jesus loves us!

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Can a Selfie Get Me To Heaven?

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (October 11, 2015)

Wisdom 7:7-11

Psalm 90:12-17

Hebrews 4:12-13

Mark 10:17-30

We live in a very technologically advanced society. The advancements in the last 150 years have been astonishing in many areas of life. For example, there are now robotic arms that a surgeon can control remotely to perform the most detailed of operations. This is a far cry from the operating room tents during the Civil War. Where one computer used to fill up an entire room, we now have computers that fit in our hands. The days of the horse drawn carriages are over. Now we can go from 0-60 mph in a matter of seconds. We went from watching the corn grow to watching Netflix. Alexander Graham Bell made the first clear speech phone call on March 10, 1876. Now we have wireless cell phones that have cameras, wifi and ability to send text messages. And everyone seems to be “connected” through the Internet and different forms of social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

We don’t even need film anymore for our cameras since most things are now digital. Which makes it easy for posting things on social media! We can just take out our fancy smart phones and take a “selfie”….

selfie

…or even an “usie” (apparently this is what you call a group selfie).

 

selfie 3

selfie 2

Then we post it to Facebook or Instagram, sit back and see how many “likes” and comments we get.

These things can be good fun and can make our lives more convenient at times. But the question is, do they really matter in life? Or in other words, do they help or hinder our journey to be closer to God? I believe this is the question that Jesus is trying to get us to consider in today’s Gospel from Mark. In it, we hear about a man, who apparently had a lot of wealth, approach Jesus and ask Him the question we should all be focusing on….”What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus refers him first to the 10 Commandments. Do not commit adultery, steal, lie or defraud and also make sure you honor your father and mother. The man eagerly replies that he has been following these rules his entire life. Jesus then gives him a challenge, “Sell what you have and give it to the poor…then come, follow me.” The rich man turned away and left sad. We are left with the impression that the man choose his material goods over eternal life.

My sisters and brothers… Jesus Christ is giving this same challenge to each one of you. I personally don’t think he wants us to deliberately be poor. But I do believe he wants us to put God before all of our material things. And if those things get in the way of God, get rid of them! If we keep putting more value on material things than on God, we’ll continue to have a messed up society where life is not valued.

In his book, “The Rhythm of Life,” Matthew Kelly had this to say about the status of our society:

“We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less common sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too little. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and lie too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, but not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space; we’ve done larger things, but not better things; we’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice; we write more, but learn less; plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals; more food, but less appeasement; more acquaintances, but fewer friends; more effort, but less success. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; we’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure and less fun; more kinds of food and less nutrition. These are the days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom. Indeed it is all true.”

For far too long, we’ve put other things ahead of God and wonder why the world is so messed up. Too often these things have added convenience but also unneeded distractions to our lives. We’ve forgotten how to relax and enjoy the simple things in life. And unfortunately, we have gotten so indoctrinated with our “modernized” culture that we are now afraid to let go of our conveniences. We are afraid to let go of our “stuff” and focus on what really matters in life… being a devout Christian that isn’t afraid to live out your faith on your journey to heaven. I’m not sure who said it but, think of it this way… if you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Our Father in heaven will be the judge of that question at the moment of your physical death. He’s not going to ask you how much money you had, what kind of car your drove or how many likes you got on Facebook. He’ll judge you by the love you have for His Son and by how you expressed that love in your actions.

So, you want to know how to inherit eternal life?

Remove anything that hinders your path to heaven and put God first!