“If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
Charity begins at home. At least that’s what the Nazarenes thought about the doings of their favorite son. They wanted Jesus to work a few miracles in their own backyard—and maybe send a message to their enemies to boot.
Knowing human nature as he did, Our Lord was ready for the challenge. “Physician, cure yourself” is doubtless the proverb he expected to hear—and he did. His neighbors and relatives wanted him to do the things they heard he had done in Capernaum.
That demand did not go over well. Jesus admonished the crowd, suggesting that they take up the challenge to cure themselves instead. What he meant was care for one another… place your own needs and concerns after the stranger’s and those who are suffering. To make matters worse, Jesus specifically referred to God’s kindness toward Israel’s enemies: the widow from Zarephath, and Naaman the commending general of Aram’s armies. That was too much for the Nazarenes to hear. They drove Jesus out of town with the intention of actually killing him.
Now enter the words of St. Paul. “Love is patient, love is kind… love never fails.” You know the rest.
Friend, the people of Nazareth had lost their capacity for caring. They wanted to shrink God down in size to conform with their own needs and self-centered expectations. You could say they wanted a God as small as they were. Our challenge
is to achieve the exact opposite… to serve as Christ did, to bring healing wherever we can and without exception—and to understand that the expansiveness of God’s love can never be contained.
That’s the gift of a God who is bigger than us, and who wants us to know we can be bigger than ourselves, too.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Lance Nadeau, M.M.
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Your love, like Your mercy,
lasts from age to age, O Lord.
In Your infinite mercy cast from my heart
all that is not motivated by love:
love of family, love of neighbor,
love of enemy, love of self,
all of which are different ways of loving You.
Walk by my side when I am weary,
be my guide when I am lost.
Shelter me when I am afraid
and catch me if I should fall
that I, in turn, may accompany,
guide, guard and support
others in the same way.
All creation gives You praise
and reflects Your glory, O Lord,
the galaxies no less than the flowers,
the sunset no less than the butterflies
but all pale in comparison to Your love
reflected in those who forgive each other
In Your holy Name.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.