30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
2014 9:30 and 11:00 am
Saint Margaret Parish, Bel Air
Learning to Love
A man named Daniel Allender writes about a conversation he had on an airplane.
Dan Allender is a psychologist and a Christian therapist and he was seated next to man named Tom. Doctor Allender shares with Tom that he is on his way to give a presentation about love and forgiveness.
Tom admits that we all need to be reminded of that, but then he starts focusing on his career. At one point Tom says that what pleases him most about his children is their intense focus on education, career and success.
Tom eventually mentions that his three children have been through a total of five divorces. And he has not seen some of his grandchildren for over five years.
Doctor Allender asks him if it might be important to teach his children how to love and maintain commitment. Tom responds that he never taught his children this and just figured that they would learn it naturally.
Dan Allender concludes that often we do not naturally know how to be loving persons. We need to be taught.
How to Love
I think Dan Allender makes an excellent point.
Jesus in today’s gospel teaches the two great commandments of love. The question is: how do love God?
And how do we love one another? This morning I want to give a few responses to these how-to questions.
How to Love God
I decided to try to express the core things involved in loving God with three R words: Receive, Resolve, and Reconcile.
First, we need to receive what God has to say in the Scripture, especially the Gospels.
We need to receive the example and life of Jesus as the way for us to live. We need to receive the strength that God offers through prayer and the Eucharist.
And then we resolve each morning to make God the center and foundation of our day.
We resolve not to close down, but to be open to more insight about life and our relationship with God. We resolve to allow all of this to influence us and keep us growing in the way of Jesus.
And then we reconcile on both the little and the big issues.
We reconcile by wanting more of a sense of peace within ourselves and with God. We reconcile by seeking God’s forgiveness, maybe in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and in receiving forgiveness we find the resolve and strength to do better.
How to Love Others
Now I am also trying to express the core things involved in loving others with the same three words: Receive, Resolve, and Reconcile.
So, we need to receive from others by really listening.
We need to receive their perspective and their life-story. We need to receive the person of the other, their strengths and struggles and how they are really very much like us.
And then we resolve to communicate in a way that is constructive, even if we first have to work through negative feelings.
We resolve to be faithful to our commitments – to your spouse or close friend or to a group or community. We resolve to be there and assist even when we don’t feel like doing it.
And then we reconcile by admitting our insensitive action or comment.
We reconcile by saying “I am sorry” or “Of course, I forgive you and let’s try to work it through together.” We reconcile by being vulnerable and not having to appear right all the time.
So, I hope these three R words – Receive, Resolve, and Reconcile – I hope they help us remember the core things involved in how to love God and others.
I want to close with this. It strikes me that these lessons are the foundation for dealing with the bigger issues in our lives and in our society.
If we learn how to love on a relationship level, then we are much better equipped for approaching issues like capital punishment, abortion, domestic violence, assisted suicide, just warfare, and on it goes. Our personal and spiritual self will equip us with a wisdom to guide us in the complex issues that we all face together.