HOMILY: Faith That Love Has the Final Say

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click hereSalesian Sermons

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time | October 25/26, 2014

PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.

As I was praying over the Gospel for this week, I couldn’t help but ask myself a question.

What does this love look like?

What does it look like to love God with one’s whole mind, and heart and soul?

What does it look like to love one’s neighbor as one’s self?

And I must admit, I kept waiting for a big dramatic scene to come to mind.  Maybe the martyrs choosing to die for the faith.  Or maybe a figure like Dorothy Day or Mother Teresa pouring out their lives for the sake of their sisters and brothers.

But that was not what happened.

Instead, numerous smaller moments came to me . . .

My aunt who mailed me several pounds of gummy bears because she was thinking of me.

My co-worker who gave me a hug when she saw that I was getting really stressed out.

The grandmother of one of our students who got teary-eyed describing how much Nativity meant to her and her family.

The eighth grade student who stopped to check-in on a new student who was struggling to adapt.

The Oblate brother whose playful banter had me cracking up even in the midst of my long week.

The faithful who came for the anointing of the sick at the parish I ministered to last week, the faith that radiated from their prayerful faces and trembling hands.

Who would have thought that God’s love would be breaking into my life in the form of gummy bears?

And yet, I believe, that my experience is not unique.

Yes, there are dramatic moments and larger-than-life personalities that seem to exemplify what it means to love.

But for most of us, these moments and people are few and far between.

Instead, we live out these commandments in the here and now, in the mundane and routine elements of our lives with the people that we interact with every day.

We see that love lived out in the mother cradling her infant daughter against her chest.

We see that love lived out in the dad who hoists his son onto his shoulders so that he can see the fireworks.

We see that love lived out every time that we choose to forgive over holding a grudge.

We see that love lived out every time that we welcome the stranger in our midst . . . Every time we smile at the person in our pew.  Every time we say hello to the homeless man sitting on the street corner.  Every time that we help get a can off the top shelf for the elderly man who cannot reach.  Every time we venture to start a conversation with the person sitting next to us on the subway.

We see that love lived out in our marriages when we find ourselves changing the toilet paper rolls, putting dinner in the oven, and leaving notes on the kitchen counter just because.

We see that love lived out in the laughter, the tears, and the long phone calls shared between friends.

We see that love played out in our politics when we refuse to demonize the other.  When we refuse to ignore those on the margins of our society.  When we stand up for the poor and the homeless, the addict and the victims of domestic violence and child abuse, the unborn and the elderly, the terminally ill and the gay couple, the immigrant and the unemployed, even as we disagree on the exact methods we will take to do so.

We see that love lived out in our Church when we fling open the doors and head out into the streets to find those who no longer feel welcomed, who have lost their way, who have never thought of belonging to our family of faith.  When we pray together, eat together, sing together, and work together to build a more just, a more peaceful, and a more loving world.

Now, I know that this homily may sound hopelessly naive.  I know that the world can seem a very dark place.  War and terror, discrimination and poverty, disease and distrust grab our headlines, even as betrayal, abandonment, failure and sin mar our personal lives.  How can one retain their faith in love in the midst of all this darkness?

I know that I can’t speak for anyone else but myself. But I know where my faith comes from.

It comes from my belief that these forces do not have the upper hand.

God does.

And the one who fashioned us in His image and likeness has destined us to be loved and to love in return.

He has determined that love will ultimately have the final word.

This is our call my friends.

To live as ones already loved.  To have the eyes to see that God’s love is always breaking through.

Look around you and see the power of love that is at work.

The power of God’s love at work in you.

May we all have the courage to harness that power, to love as God loves us.

May God be Praised.

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