For the past three weeks, Fr. Marek has been talking about the Three Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope and Love.
As usual, his sermons touch on so much it is nearly impossible to bring it all to this Blog and repeat everything he said. I won't even try...but I will say this ~ one of the main reasons I love this parish is the fact that they talk about real issues there...sin, virtue, life and death, the Gospel and Our Lady, it seems they have no end of topics, and they don't even come close to talking about the things that I hear in so many other parishes today, inane subjects like 'When I was younger...' or 'We are all perfect...' Well, today was no exception. I already knew what the topic was going to be; we had just covered the other two Virtues and this one, Love, was the last of the three...
He told about how he had been going down a street one day and there he saw a young boy kicking a girl. When he asked him why he would do such a thing, the boy surprised him completely with his answer: 'Why shouldn't I kick her?!?'
Fr. Marek was so taken aback that he had to take a second before responding, but it was obvious to him that here was a child who had never known love in his life.
I'm sure that the boy's answer came as completely unexpected to him, as it probably would have been to me, too! To not know love in one's life...to have only misguided feelings of despair, envy, apathy or even hatred for another human being is something that I would never understand, even in my wildest dreams!
I'm sure that most people were brought up to treat others the way they expect to be treated...and that is a Golden Rule, given to us by Almighty God, to keep law-abiding persons on the 'straight and narrow' for sure, but even more important, to keep us all on our way home to Heaven.
When Jesus, in the Gospel, was entering the city one day, there was, as usual, a great crowd gathering around Him...people from everywhere trying to get a glimpse of this Man among men, this Savior Who had come to cure the sick, forgive sins, bring His peace to everyone everywhere. And then, our Lord looked up to a tree and told the man lurking there, Zaccheus, to come down, that He would stay with him that day ~ and everyone immediately turned on Him saying, 'He stays with a sinner!'
But when Jesus entered the house of this wealthy man, a tax collector who probably cheated most of the people from whom he collected, He was happily surprised to hear that Zaccheus had turned a new leaf, promising half of his belongings to the poor and making restitution to anyone from whom he had taken unjust taxes in the past.
The point here, obviously, is to show that Zaccheus found the love of God that day and most likely, he is enjoying the fruits of his 'turnaround' at this very moment in Heaven with the Blessed Savior Who came to his house for dinner that day so many years ago.
Anyone else who happened to be there, whether or not they agreed with Jesus and the way He handled the situation, is also reaping the rewards of the reaction they showed when He taught them all such a valuable lesson.
If we are to feel the love of this same Lord in our lives, we must take care to show that same love to others...hence, the lesson He taught by ignoring their initial reactions. And those who were not surprised by this, the ones who 'got it' are also in Heaven with Him today.
Whether He was just entering or leaving a city, out in the country or even praying up in the mountains, He was always in the Presence of the love of His Eternal Father. The Angels were in constant attendance on Him, always relaying messages between the two of Them...the love, the peace, the joy and the Spirit, Who is the direct result of Their bonds to One Another.
Yes, He did love everyone...and if a person was a great sinner, it mattered not to Him. If a person was already a Saint, then that person would have had no more need of Him. But it was the sinner, it was all of us ~ we are the ones who need His love and His help.
If we were there that day, if we had the chance to respond to His love, what would we do? Would we turn away and say, 'He stays with sinners!' or would we hang around to see how the situation played out?
If the former, then we would have a plank in our eyes that would take over our entire lives...and woe to us! If the latter, then we would be joyously received into His Kingdom, sinners no more, but Saints ourselves...that which we had believed ourselves to be, but were not...and suddenly turned around, embraced and saved.
This is what the true love of our Savior has taught us ~ to love Him with every fiber of our being, to love one another no matter our faults (if we find His love then it can never be too late for our own 'turnaround'), with a selfless and completely generous love, as children of God, and to love ourselves ...to become the Saints we were meant to be.