“Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)
Love is always easy… when we’re the one being loved back. But loving the way Jesus asked—unconditionally and without exception—well, that’s another story. What to do when love isn’t exactly a two-way street?
I can only tell you how I try to live up to God’s expectation of me: first, by recognizing that each person I meet may be different but still created in God’s image and therefore worthy; and second, by admitting that it’s always more fruitful to sit in judgment of my own actions before judging someone else’s.
Learning about differences and discovering God in the process is the essence of our mission lives. It’s certainly true for our fathers and Brothers who witness the Gospel in many countries amid many cultures and traditions. And it’s true for those of us serving closer to home where relationships within our own families and circle of friends can be challenging—and instructive, too.
St. Paul isn’t saying we can’t—or never will—have differences worth arguing over. Remember, Jesus himself didn’t hesitate to call out the hypocrites of his day. His message is more about bringing God into the conversation, recognizing the divine source of all life. Once we have that insight, the possibility for being true missioners becomes a reality. We see creation for what it is: a reflection of God’s infinite love, full of differences and rich in beauty.
Friend, the presence of God is everywhere, waiting to be acknowledged and received. Through it all, we are being called as missioners to move beyond our differences to fulfill the law by living as Christ did. Hard work, yes. But as St. Paul reminds us, love is always the answer.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M.
Prayer for 1st Sunday, September 6, 2020
Lord of love, You shower the earth
with Your merciful grace
calling forth a variety of spiritual gifts:
joy, peace, hope, and love
each bearing fruit in due season.
Help us to imitate You:
to love without expecting to receive;
to help without expecting thanks;
to give without counting the cost.
Even as a garden produces every kind
of flower and plant though all receive
warmth and life from the same sun
so may all the diverse peoples of earth
of every race and language,
of every culture and country
give You praise and thanks, O Lord,
for all You have given us.
Prayer by Maryknoll Missioner, Father Joseph Veneroso