Sunday in Ordinary Time
am at Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville
am at Saint Matthew Parish, Baltimore
Learn to Love
Some years ago, I came across a book by a psychologist named Daniel Allender.
Doctor Allender writes tells about a conversation he had with a man named Tom. They were sitting next to each other on an airplane and Daniel tells 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 these things, but then he quickly focuses on his career. He states that what pleases him most about his children is their intense focus on career and success.
Tom also mentions that his three children have been through a total of five divorces. He has not seen some of his grandchildren for years.
Doctor Allender asks him if it might be important to teach his children how to love and maintain commitment. Tom responds that he just figured that his children would learn this naturally, on their own.
Allender concludes that often we do not naturally know how to be loving persons. We need to be taught and we need to teach our children how to love.
How to Love
This psychologist makes an excellent point in relation to today’s gospel.
Jesus gives us the two great commandments of love. But the question is: how do we love?
How do we love God and love one another? This morning I want to offer a few some recommendations.
How to Love God
First, I think the primary way of loving God is by praying.
Our coming to Mass, really giving of ourselves to this and participating in it as best we can is an expression of our love for God. Our desiring to receive Communion and realizing that this is the heartbeat of our life is part of this.
And then, we love God by praying privately, personally on our own. Some kind of prayer every day is a real expression of our love for God.
It could be reading a short passage from the gospels and just letting that be with us through the day. Or it could be praying the rosary or part of it.
It could be speaking to God in our own words – maybe just thanking God for something or someone each day. So, weekly Mass and daily prayer – that’s a primary way for how to love God.
How to Love Others
And then, how are we to love one another?
On an interpersonal level, we need to approach relationships with the expectation that they take some work. This is true of marriage, of parent-child relationships, of friendships and on it goes.
For example, we need to try to listen and to understand the thoughts and feelings of others. And often we need to process our own thoughts and feelings silently before we speak, and then express ourselves thoughtfully, and not in an “in-your-face” way.
We also need to “love one another” on the wider level of our society in general. For example, to take a hot-button issue, we as a country need a sensible immigration policy.
I do not know what that policy should be, but we do need a policy. And, in this policy, we need to do what we reasonably can to help others.
Look at the Lord’s words in the first reading. He warns his people not to oppress aliens because you were once aliens yourselves.
The Lord concludes his statement by saying “I am compassionate” and he calls us to be compassionate. So, we need to refrain from negative stereotyping or demeaning people from Syria or Kenya or Mexico or wherever they come from.
We need to want to do what we can to help. This is also part of how to love one another.
So, an important theme today and I hope these “how-to-love” ideas are of some help.