Homily Rerun: 31st Sunday, 2018
The Everlasting Question
Today’s Scriptures give us the most basic and fundamental of voter guidelines: 1.) Every issue is a moral issue and thus subject to God’s commands. Every issue affects how I exercise dominion over creation and is thus subject to the command to love God. Therefore, every vote I cast, without exception, represents either love of or contempt for God. 2.) Every issue affects the body politic and thus is subject to the command to love my neighbor. Therefore, every vote I cast, without exception, represents either love or hatred for my neighbor.
These guidelines are couched in Jesus’ response to the everlasting question, “Why did God make me?” The Baltimore Catechism answered: “God made me to know, love and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church answers: “1721 God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve Him, and so to come to paradise.”
In today’s Gospel a ‘scribe' asks Jesus this same question from a somewhat different perspective, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” He is basically asking Jesus to sum up the entire law in a ten second sound bite or a bumper sticker. It takes the entire Bible to explain the answer but Jesus sums it all up in saying that LOVE IS THE ANSWER: Love God and everyone else, including yourself.
It is imperative to note that Jesus commands us to love God and neighbor. Thus love has to be more than hormones, feelings or sentiment. Jesus tells us that love is a commitment of ‘strength’, ‘mind’, ‘soul’ and ‘heart’. Popular romance novels, love songs, TV shows and movies have made such a sloppy mush of love that we often forget that love is something that can be ordered – both in the sense of being commanded, and in the sense of being structured and disciplined. Emotions come and go and cannot be commanded. Emotions have very little to do with the reality of love. Love Is Not a Feeling!
At the heart of love is COMMITMENT! Commitment requires doing what I say I will do even when I don’t feel like it. My commitments rule over my feelings. [They do not rule out or eliminate my feelings.] My commitments keep me headed in the direction I want to go even [or especially] when my feelings would cause me to veer off track. If I am committed, my word is “money in the bank.” My commitment means that even if/when the circumstances change, my heart remains steadfast.
Jesus’ commitment to us is expressed clearly in today’s 2nd Reading (Heb 7:23-28): “He [Jesus] has no need … to offer sacrifice day after day; … He did that once for all when He offered Himself.”
According to a poll taken several years ago, “most people go to church because they want to feel good. … They go for the peace of mind, or to meet people, or because it’s good business.” In response to this information many churches “offer not only padded pews, but padded crosses as well.” If that poll were taken today I suspect it would discover that the best praise band in town and lattes after the service go a long way in helping people “feel good.”
Catholics come together on Sundays as Church, to hear God’s command of love, and to be encouraged and strengthened to follow that command throughout the coming week. We go forth as Church to carry out God’s command of love for our God, our neighbor and ourselves. We go forth as Church to carry out God’s command of love at home, at school, at work, at the market place. We go forth as Church to carry out God’s command of love in our families, in our votes, in marriage. We go forth as Church to carry out God’s command of love in all things.
Why Did God Make You? God made you for love. That is why He commands you to love.