Love gratuitously

Now is the time
to recognize the violence of the post-Christian culture,
to repent, and return to the Lord

In our gospel reading today Jesus reveals the root of killing: anger in our hearts. The letter of the law says “you shall not kill,” but the spirit of the law, revealed by Jesus, is not to kill anyone in our hearts. If we stop killing our neighbors in our hearts, we will never progress to the level of the gunman who, yesterday, went on a shooting rampage at a charity baseball game practice, all because he hated Republicans.

At least one congressional representative called out the media for its role in fostering hate. And while I agree that the media is complicit, we have to take responsibility for ourselves. We can turn off the TV. We can send the media a message that we don’t want their hate in our minds and hearts. We can open our Bible and read about God’s love for all of us. We can kneel and pray. We can humble ourselves to the point of silence and service.

[Or you can go to Shakespeare in the Park (NYC), which continues to promote violence with its rendition of Julius Caesar.]

In the quote of the day, Pope Francis offers us hope: the hope of God’s love for us and for all people. We can choose to dwell on God’s love for all of us or on the hatred in our hearts, that leads to death. And as the epistle says, we are called to gaze on the Lord, allow him to transform our hardened hearts, and live in freedom when God’s Spirit dwells in us. That freedom is the freedom to love others as God has loved us — in our sin, patiently trusting that God is at work in us and in others and in the world.

While we were yet sinners, God sent his only begotten son. Jesus, through his life, passion and death, and resurrection, has reconciled us to the Father. Seek the narrow way. Extend grace and mercy.

Scriptures of the Day

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 3:15—4:1, 3:6

Brothers and sisters:
To this day, whenever Moses is read,
a veil lies over the hearts of the children of Israel,
but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.
Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Therefore, since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us,
we are not discouraged.
And even though our Gospel is veiled,
it is veiled for those who are perishing,
in whose case the god of this age
has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,
so that they may not see the light of the Gospel
of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.
For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness,
has shone in our hearts to bring to light
the knowledge of the glory of God
on the face of Jesus Christ.

Psalm: 85;9ab&10, 11–12, 13–14

I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

Gospel: Matthew 5:20–26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother,
Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

Quote of the Day
Pope Francis’ catechesis at general audience, June 14, 2017

None of us can live without love. And an awful slavery into which we can fall is to believe that love is merited. Perhaps a good part of contemporary man’s anguish stems from this: to believe that if we are not strong, attractive and beautiful, then no one will be concerned with us. So many people today seek visibility only to fill an interior void: as if we were persons eternally in need of confirmation. However, can you imagine a world where all beg motives to awaken others’ attention, and no one is willing, instead, to freely love another person? Imagine such a world: a world without the gratuitousness of loving! It seems a human world but, in reality, it is a hell. So many narcissisms of man are born from a sentiment of solitude and orphanhood. Behind so much apparently inexplicable behavior there lies the question: is it possible that I do not deserve to be called by name, namely, to be loved? Because love always calls by name . . .

When an adolescent is not or does not feel loved, then violence can be born. Behind so many forms of social hatred and of hooliganism there is often a heart that has not been recognized. Evil children do not exist, as there are not altogether evil adolescents, but unhappy persons do exist. And what can render us happy if not the experience of love given and received? A human being’s life is an exchange of looks: someone who looking at us wrings from us the first smile, and we who freely smile at one who is closed in sadness, and thus we open to him a way out. Exchange of looks: look in the eyes and the doors of the heart open.

The first step that God took towards us was that of an anticipating and unconditional love. God loved us first. God does not love us because there is in us some reason that elicits love. God loves us because He Himself is love, and by its nature love tends to diffuse itself, to give itself. God does not even link His benevolence to our conversion: if anything this is a consequence of God’s love. Saint Paul says it perfectly: “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans5:8)– While we were yet sinners– an unconditional love We were “distant,” as the Prodigal Son of the parable: “While he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion . . .” (Luke 15:20). Out of love for us God undertook an exodus from Himself, to come to find us in this land where it was senseless that He should walk. God loved us also when we were mistaken.

Who of us loves in this way if not one who is father or mother? A mother continues to love her son even when this son is in prison. I remember so many mothers, who were in a queue to enter a prison, in my previous diocese. And they were not ashamed. The son was in prison, but it was their son And they suffered so many humiliations in the searches before entering, but: “It is my son!” “But lady, your son is a delinquent!” “He is my son!” Only this love of mother and of father makes us understand how God’s love is. A mother does not ask for the cancellation of human justice, because every error calls for a redemption, but a mother never stops suffering for her son. She loves him even when he is a sinner. God does the same thing with us: we are His beloved children! But could it be that God has some children that he does not love? No, we are all loved by God. There is no curse on our life, but only a benevolent word of God, who drew our existence out of nothing. The truth of it all is that relation of love that binds the Father with the Son through the Holy Spirit, is a relationship in which we are received by grace. In Him, in Christ Jesus, we were willed, loved desired. There is Someone who has imprinted in us a primordial beauty, which no sin, no mistaken choice will ever be able to cancel altogether. Before God’s eyes, we are always little springs made to gush good water. Jesus said it to the Samaritan woman: “the water that I shall give [you] will become in [you] a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

What is the medicine to change the heart of an unhappy person? What is the medicine to change the heart of a person that is not happy? [They answer: love] Louder! [They shout: love!] Good! Good, all good! And how does one make a person feel that he is loved? It is necessary first of all to embrace him. To make him feel wanted, that he is important, and he will stop being sad. Love calls love, in a stronger way than hatred calls death. Jesus did not die and rise for Himself, but for us, so that our sins would be forgiven. Hence, it is the time of resurrection for all: time to raise the poor from discouragement, especially those lying in a sepulcher for a much longer time than three days. Blowing here, on our faces, is a wind of liberation. Germinating here is the gift of hope. And the hope is that of God the Father who loves us as we are: He loves us all and always. Thank you!

— Pope Francis

Prayer

Through the resurrection of Jesus and the grace of the Holy Spirit, we become sharers in God’s own life of love.  May all of us find in God’s embrace the promise of new life and freedom.  For in his love is the source of all our hope.

Questions of the Day

  • Do we harbor hatred in our hearts for anyone?
  • Do you love freely and without discrimination?
  • Must others merit your love?
  • What makes you angry? What do you do with your anger? Have you ever allowed your anger to stew into hatred?
  • To what are you listening? To whom and what do you give ear? How are they shaping the thoughts in your mind and the movements of your heart? And what actions result?
  • Are you gazing on the Lord? Are others witnessing the work of God transforming you from glory to glory?

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