Practicing Love

Tuesday Reflection from Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from:

Last Saturday morning, I joined 70 other parishioners who gathered together in the Family Life Center for the first of four separate listening sessions that Fr. Walsh and the Parish Council have been inviting us to attend.  These sessions offer all parishioners the opportunity to help guide the priorities of SMM for the future.  Most importantly, these sessions are an opportunity to be full and active participants in the life of this Church.  It was a wonderful experience, in a prayerful and reflective setting, in which we shared our response to 2 questions:  What are doing well as a parish?  What can we do better?  There are 2 sessions remaining, and I hope you’ll consider joining one of them:  today at 9 am and Thursday at 7 pm.

These sessions focus on the common good of this parish community, which is exactly what St. Paul is writing about in our first reading today. He is urging his Christian community to pull together to work for the good of the church in Rome.  Paul deliberately sets a tone of love in his writing, and he urges this community to act out of love. He is calling them to higher standards and begs them to live in a way that glorifies God.  We all are One Body and have gifts to share that bring love, not hate, into our world.

The principle at work in all his instructions is clearly charity which is offered in service to others:

Extend hospitality to strangers,
Bless those who persecute you,
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
Weep with those who weep,
And Live in harmony with one another.

To Paul, all talk about God was worthless unless it made a difference in how people lived.  The common pursuit of the good for all is expected of those who are members of this Body of Christ.

Paul is preaching Jesus’ vision… that we must have the same attitude toward all, and that no one is excluded from the table of the Lord.  The message of our gospel today is about an invitation to this kingdom feast, and it is the same message for us as it was in Paul’s time.  Our baptismal commitment and Catholic teaching require us to speak up for the voiceless and those on the margins...the unborn children, immigrants, widows and orphans, the medically uninsured, etc. All God’s children are invited to the banquet table in our Gospel today, and no excuse to turn down that invitation is good enough.

As we practice St. Paul’s teachings and stretch ourselves to act with love, be nonjudgmental, and show mercy towards all, it is good to remember the famous, and chilling, quote of St. John of the Cross:

In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”