23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

GROWING IN LOVE

By Lucinda M. Vardey

Today’s readings embellish a vital aspect to Jesus’ two commandments of loving God and neighbour as oneself. Love is a deepening process: beginning with childlike reliance on God as parent, growing into expressing love of God through service to others, and eventually maturing into total obedience to truth.   As an expression of love of truth, justice makes forgiveness essential to being in love with God.   Justice in part is practiced by showing love and respect for those who have done us wrong.

How can love be practiced by confrontation we might ask? And how can we act from the heart without seeming to judge or put a person on the spot? In many cases in life, people who have hurt us are unaware that they have done so.   Being wronged can undoubtedly make us wary of the person who afflicted us and cause us to avoid future contact.   And, because of the need for justice, we are invariably inclined to talk more to others about the hurt instead of directly to the person.   Sharing one’s experience face-to-face not only requires courage, honesty and vulnerability, but allows the recipient the opportunity to become aware of the truth.   As Jesus frequently directs us towards relationship and healing, he reminds us that he is present in the middle of such meetings, guiding the fragile process towards mercy and peace.

Charity extended to one’s neighbour, especially when it requires choosing what’s right or what’s needed for the other over what’s comfortable or easy for oneself, is where God nourishes and purifies both hearts.   The Lord stated such facts to St. Catherine of Siena in her Dialogue:

“Those who want to gain, lose and those who are willing to lose, gain.” By not seeking our own consolation over another’s benefit, we help not only she or he but ourselves, unleashing the power and healing of God’s loving grace.

“For without you, high eternal Goodness, nothing can be done.”   (St. Catherine of Siena).