Deacon Stu Dobson’s Reflection
August 20, 2021
Friday, August 20, 2021, 20th week in Ordinary time
Ru 1: 1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22; Ps 146:5-10; Mt 22:34-40
Several years ago, at a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary, an elderly priest (and mutual friend), rededicated the couple’s marriage. It is not often you find couples married for 50 years anymore, but knowing this couple for about half that time, it is not a surprise they were married that long. But what I really want to talk about is what the priest said.
He said it took him a long time to really understand what we, as Christians, should be doing. He talked a little bit about the 10 commandments, and a lot more about the Beatitudes, but the thing he really stressed was the verses from the Gospel reading today, Mathew 22:34-40. He stressed Love. In his eyes, at 80 plus years old, he finally figured it out, all that matters is Love. Our whole life, he said, and especially our eternal life, depends on how we react to this message and how much we Love one another. It was a beautiful message for a 50th wedding anniversary, but it also made us all think about how we were living out that very commandment today.
Jesus was emphatic about it, “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments,” He says. Now our job is to live it out. Easily done, right? Not so fast… with our free will we constantly are being challenged to love one another. Not only in what others have done, but more so in what we have done. I know I’ve done or said things in the last week that were not very loving to others around me. So, it is my responsibility to ask for forgiveness for those times I have offended anyone. I would hope you are willing to forgive me if I offended you in any way. The attitude of another friend comes to mind when I think about asking for forgiveness. I asked her to forgive me one time, about 2 or 3 weeks after I realized I had done something to offend her. When I asked her, she said, “No need to worry, I forgave you immediately after the event. I can’t carry around that burden and neither should you.” We should all possess that attitude and if someone offends you, immediately, in your heart, forgive them. That not only frees you of the offence, it frees them! Even if they never come to ask for forgiveness. That is love. Not only love of your neighbor, but of your enemy as well.
Love can also be a challenge when you know someone is doing something wrong. In a previous chapter of Matthew, chapter 18, we are asked to confront those who have sinned against us, but it must be done in love. If you do it out of spitefulness, who has created the greater sin? So go to them in love and help them see the error of their ways. According to Matthew 18:15, if he listens to you, you have gained a brother. As another friend of mine says, “I may not like what you are doing, and may have a hard time liking you, but there is no doubt in my mind that I do love you.”
Loving as a Christian is not easy, but it is the way. It is repeated all throughout the New Testament. It is the only thing that matters. Jesus told us this, many times, and as my old priest friend says, at 80+ years old, he finally figured it out. Let’s hope we don’t wait that long to figure it out.