February 23, 2020 – 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022320.cfm)
In the comedy film Evan Almighty, God said to Evan Baxter: “If you want to change the world, build an ARK.” Only later after all the trouble of exactly building a big ark that Evan Baxter realized that an ark simply means: one single act of random kindness at a time, i.e. one single ARK (act of random kindness) at a time.
Days after Valentine’s Day, with all the decorations around us, we could say that until now, love is still in the air or we still got valentines’ day hang-overs upon us. Valentine’s Day is the day we honor and celebrate Love as we experience it in Life. Human as we are, we know how it is to love and be loved by others. We celebrate Valentine’s Day because we live life with love, in love and out of love. We know that Life without love is directionless and worthless. Though it’s a constant challenge, living life then with love, in love and out of love make life more meaningful.
In our gospel today, while preaching to His disciples His Sermon on the Mount, we get a glimpse of Jesus’ take on our experience of love in life. Here He invites us that in our loving, we must “love our enemies, go another mile, offer your cloak and other cheek as well and be perfect as our Father”. Surely we are already familiar with these words, which are nice words to listen. But easily falls into deaf-ears and slogans because they are difficult to practice. The kind of love Jesus is asking us here are very unusual and demanding, and even Stupid Love, as Salbakuta (Filipino rap-band) would say. Jesus knows already that human as we are, we are loved and loving people. But now for us to be perfect and holy in our lovelife, he requires us to go beyond with our human ways of loving and follow His and God’s way of loving, i.e. Christian Love: To love one another AS (like, same way as) He and the Father has loved us. In other words, to love others same way as God and Jesus love and loving us.
But why Christian Love, the love Jesus requires of us, is difficult and demanding in our experience of love in life? What makes Christian love, God’s way of loving unusual, hard and tough, and even stupid?
Though we live life with love, in love and out of love, human as we are, we do have the tendency to place love at the distance both in place and time.
We place love at the distance in TIME, because we are more willing to postpone doing good than do bad things right away. Easy for us to delay faith, hope and love, but instead, attend readily to fear, greed and anger. Why only during Valentine’s Day you remember and celebrate that you are loving and loved, and that you need love in life? Yes, we do tend to postpone love, but we also know in our experience of love that love is for Now or Never.
We also tend to place love at the distance in PLACE. We rather love others from a distance and at a distance. Why is it that we have more virtual friends in Facebook and others social media than our actual intimate personal friends? Why is it that we are more open, chatty, and relax in Facebook and messengers but silent and awkward face to face with others? This is because we are afraid to love, simply because love makes us vulnerable, exposed and weak before others. However, if we are afraid to love then it is not Love but Fear.
In other words, though we tend to postpone and distance from love, Love is really Here and Now, and not There and Later.
For Jesus then, Christian love, to love and be loved like His and the Father’s, is Here and Now – not there and later, not at a distance and from a distance. Love for Jesus then is and should be an ARK, act of random kindness. This is the kind of Love, Jesus requires us to live and practice in life. If we want to change our world with Love, we must change our love into Christian love by building our love into ARK – by living and loving in one simple Act of Random Kindness at a time. Unusual, difficult, tough and stupid it maybe, Loving others same as (like) Jesus and the Father loved us, leads us to redemption towards God’s kingdom.
As our church song suggests, by and through our love (as Jesus loved us), may we be known as Christians, for others “will know we are Christians by our love”. Amen.
Shared by Fr. Mar Masangcay, CSsR – a Filipino Redemptorist Missionary in South Korea