First Reading Commentary
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when taking the tiny steps that eventually lead to a conversion experience is whether or not a life in service to the Lord will take away one’s freedom because “You shall not” are words frequently used in the laws of God. Love is the key to it all. Even our limited knowledge of God’s gift of love and our duty to share and spread His love is enough to know that when exercised properly, “You shall not” need not be burdensome. Even with the miniscule knowledge we have on this vast and portions unreachable subject of love, it’s obvious that killing, committing adultery, stealing, molesting, oppressing, or wronging anyone in anyway has absolutely nothing to do with love. And if we understand that, then “You shall not” is not something we need to exhaust our energies on. On the other hand, love is hovering, but not obviously visible in the words “You shall not”.
Those of us who are parents understand that any warnings given to our children are done because we love them and want what’s best for them, even though that is not always evident to our children. In the same way, God warns His children because He loves us far beyond what we are capable of grasping; and like the children of God we are, His love is not always perceived by us in the words “You shall not”.
Second Reading Commentary
Do you have a favorite saint? If so, perhaps it’s because there’s something in his/her personality that you can identify with; or maybe you have nothing in common with them but in your mind their particular brand of holiness in life is something you would like to achieve.
Our personal connection to saints, for the most part, is the result of our desire to be imitators of them and ask God to grant us the same graces He gave them. It has been suggested, however, that saints choose us – we don’t choose them. Saint Paul tells the Thessalonians that they became imitators of him and the Lord. And, of course, our attempt to imitate any saint is an attempt to imitate the Lord.
Some of us are fortunate to have a model for all believers in our personal life; that is, a person or persons who are destined to be saints when their earthly journey ends. The sanctity of other souls, whether still in a human body or residents of heaven, can greatly influence us for the better; just as associating ourselves with quite the opposite can do great harm. Through the intercession of the saints as well as the beautiful people in our lives, may we too become models for all believers and saints for all eternity.
Jesus sums up the law as “Love”. Love the Lord your God and your neighbor; and do it with your whole heart, soul and mind. To quote from “Reflections” by the late Father Leo Clifford, OFM: “A song is not a song until it has been sung; a bell is not a bell until it has been rung. And love is not love until it has been given away.”
Every gift we have received from God is intended to be shared. And yet, love is that one gift in which the damages of hoarding it can actually be experienced interiorly if we’re paying attention. If love for one another does not abound, then surely apathy or hate will. When love is not offered to others, then what possesses our lives is that all too familiar trinity of me, myself, and I.
It’s human nature to run away from the cross. But that greatest outpouring of love by our Lord Jesus Christ continues to flow into us and is then, by the combination of free will and illimitable celestial motivation, poured out from us when the world has to bear its heavier crosses such as 9/11, the tsunami, Katrina, ISIS, Ebola, to name only some. There is an enigmatic connection to suffering and love. But perhaps what makes this suffering/love union so ambiguous, is that its Source is our invisible God.
Our Lord and Savior often communicates to our souls, by equally obscure means, that our avoidance of the cross at all costs will ultimately lead to the undesirable encounter with the humbling and gasping reality of just how temporal we are capable of being.