A HOMILY FOR THE EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – FEB. 26TH, 2017 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Just over a week and a half ago, we celebrated those whom we love in this life. We bought flowers, and sent cards, and there was lots and lots of chocolate! Restaurants were booked up. Even White Castle had their annual St. Valentine’s Day dinner! But hopefully, it’s not just St. Valentine’s Day, but often, in our life, we expressing our love for those we care about around us: our spouses, our parents, our children, and our close friends. Some people like to do this by calling, or writing, or e-mailing, or texting, to stay in touch. Some people like to express their love with gifts, or by their continued help and support, or even by their listening ears. And some people like to express their love and affection with food! Do you know anybody like that? I know too many people like that. My Italian Grandmother was very much that way. She used to make me homemade gnocchi every Thursday. And trust me, nothing says “I love you.” quite like homemade gnocchi!
Our readings this weekend ask us to reflect on how God loves us. How do we know God’s love? And what proof has God given us of His love. If we’re honest, we have to admit that love cannot really be proven. It can only be experienced. It has to be lived out. It must be much more than a word, or words.
We know as Christians, that God’s primary gift of His love that He wants all of us to experience is in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity, came into this world specifically to reveal to us how much God loves us! He was born as a little baby, just like all of us were. He gave us inspired teachings, and did great miracles, and brought us a new way of life! He suffered and died a horrible death for us, and rose from the dead, giving all of us the hope that we too, will have everlasting life! We must not forget this! This is exactly why, this coming Wednesday, we as Church are going to begin the Holy Season of Lent, where we recall exactly what Jesus did, especially on that Cross, to show us His love! It is because we can’t forget. Nothing should lead us to a greater appreciation for the depths of God’s love for us, and allow each one of us to experience that love in our hearts! If the promise of living forever with God in Heaven, isn’t a powerful experience of God’s love, then I’m not sure what is!
We know that we can also experience God’s love in the stories in Sacred Scripture, which is God’s way of speaking to us still today. In the Gospels, so many times we hear Jesus speaking to us specifically about how much God loves us. We hear this in today’s Gospel, in which Jesus teaches us that His Father is always watching over us and providing for what we most truly need. We are not to worry about anything, not our life, not our food or drink, not our bodies or our clothes. I love that comparison with the birds. There are some really fine looking birds! Ever take a good look at a peacock? God takes care of the birds. They don’t have investments and savings accounts. And God wants to always take care of us! We are more important than the birds of the air. We are created in the image and likeness of God!
And we know that our God loves us because of our Free Will. God gives us every day the freedom to choose to love Him in return or not. Coerced love isn’t love at all. Love has no meaning unless it is freely given. God did not make us to be like computers, pre-programmed to love Him. A computer program responds only to a command. But real love responds only to an invitation, not a command! You can’t make someone love you. You know that. And I know that. And God knows that! God desires that we be in a relationship with Him and that we love Him in return, but that choice is given to each one of us every day.
So this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. How will we love God this Lent? What will we do? What choices will we make? Lent becomes our great season of showing our love for God. He has proven His love for us, time after time, and He promises to continue to do so. May we make our Lent this year, our time of showing God our love in return.
+ May God bless us this week, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!