HOMILY: Choose Love

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time | January 30/31, 2016

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

PROTIP: You can take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the second and Gospel readings.

Of all the seasons that one travels through as an educator each year, admissions season is one of the worst.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing more edifying than watching one of your students run into the building waving his acceptance letter.  

But the process to get to that point always drains me.  For as I help these students put together their applications, I always feel like what we are doing is inadequate. How do you adequately describe this young man that you have formed and shaped, guided and pushed over the last three or four years in 500 words?  

I always look at the finished application and feel that it is woefully incomplete.  Yes, it may contain the facts and figures that the world deems important.

It includes his grades and his transcripts.

It includes his attendance record and his detention record.

It includes information about his parents’ current marital situation and their financial status.

But it never seems to include the things that I find to be really important.

Like the fact that one student just seems to brighten everyone’s day with his quirky sense of humor.

Or the fact that another student works off his family’s volunteer hours because he knows that his mother is unable to do them on her own.

Or the fact that this third student continues to check in on his classmate to make sure he is okay because he knows that his classmate lost his cousin from cancer a few months before.

These are the moments that define these students for me.  And these are the moments that one can only learn from being with these kids.  From listening to them and learning from them.  From loving them.

Maybe that is why I struggle with the admissions process so much.  Because at the end of the day my students are judged for what is on that paper, regardless of how incomplete that picture may be.

It’s funny because in many ways I could not help but think about my students as I reflected on the readings for this weekend.

For in listening to Jesus’ words in the Gospel, I realize that he too was struggling with those who were judging him based on an incomplete picture.

Here was a synagogue full of people who knew quite a bit about this young man currently standing before them.

They knew his family.

They knew where he grew up.

They had heard about the miraculous works that he had accomplished in other towns and villages.

But they didn’t truly know Jesus.  They didn’t understand his mission.  They didn’t comprehend what would motivate him.  They missed the fact that all of his teachings and miracles came from the conviction that we were all beloved children of God, tasked with building uo the kingdom of God’s justice and peace, reconciliation and love.

Nope, they did not have the complete picture.

And so, at the end of the day, these fellow children of Israel would fail to love him.

And in so doing, they missed the chance to be changed by him.  

My friends, I believe that Jesus’ life offers a lesson for each of us as we journey onwards.

A lesson about love.

See, we can have all knowledge about another.  We can rattle off a list of facts and figures about this person.

Where they went to college.  

What they do for a career.

What ethnicity they are.

What languages they speak.

Who they are married to.

What God they worship.

Who they support in the Iowa caucuses

But if we do not love that person, we will never truly know them.  We will never truly understand what inspires them and what angers them.  We will never truly understand how they see the world and what keeps them up at night.  We will never truly understand what breaks their heart and what gives them hope.

And in turn, we will never truly know the Christ who is present in each person we encounter.

We too will miss the chance to be changed by them.

So let us choose love my friends.

For the greatest of these is love.  May God be Praised.

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