Permanent: Monday 12am (midnight) to 1am
by Fr Doug Harris 2021
In the Gospel today Jesus said: “This people honours Me only in lip service, their “hearts” are far from Me.” The Bible tells us to love God with all our “Heart, mind, soul and strength.”
Our love for God is the ultimate reason why we should do anything. Love for God is the reason why we try to pray as much as we can. Love for God is the reason why we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Love for God is the reason why we make every effort to overcome every sin and do only that which is most virtuous. Love for God is the reason why we attend Mass. We don’t come to Mass out of lip service or routine. We come to Mass because of love for God, we believe we are receiving the Body and Divinity of Our Saviour and we believe Jesus wants to give all of Himself to us.
Love for God is the reason why when we are treated badly, we offer our pain for the person who treated us badly. Love for God is the reason why we fast and do penance and why we willingly carry our cross. Love for God is the reason why we won’t tolerate any negative thought we have toward another person or towards our lot in life. Love for God is the reason why we get out of bed. Love for God is the reason why we work hard and, whatever work we, do we do to our best. Love for God is the reason why men and women choose priesthood or consecrated life. Love for God is the reason why men and women shed their blood for Christ. Love for God is why we say no to the flesh and to the world and say yes only to God.
Our Lord is the ideal. Jesus became ‘Love’ incarnate the One Who ‘Is’ Love. Out of Infinite Love Jesus never once lived for Himself but died to Himself continually and as much as possible. We are called to Love as Jesus Loved, not to be a person of lip service, but a person of love.
An example from the saints: Our example is Melanie Calvat. Our Blessed Mother appeared to Melanie, age 14 and Maximin age 11 at La Salette in France in 1846. The Church has approved the Apparition. Melanie’s spiritual director, St Hanibal de Francia described her as “a crucified one” – a saint who surpassed most other saints. For example, she had the Stigmata – although it was invisible (and could only be seen when placed near a bright light). Melanie had a difficult childhood. Her parents were exceptionally violent towards her. On one occasion her mother, because of anger towards Melanie’s father punched Melanie in the face so hard that it knocked her unconscious. When Melanie asked to be a nun her father tried to kill her by shooting her, but the bullet went between her chest and her arm narrowly missing her. At the end of her parents’ lives it was Melanie who left the convent to care for them. Why did she do that? Her parents certainly didn’t deserve that. She did it for love for God.
St Therese of the Child Jesus (who died in 1897) wrote: “My one vocation is love.” “Huge or striking deeds have forbidden me. I cannot preach the Gospel, I cannot shed my blood but what matter?...I can prove my love by…never letting slip a single little sacrifice, a single glance or movement, a single word, by making profit of the very tiniest actions, by doing them all for love. I want to suffer…and all the while I will sing, yes, always sing…and the longer and sharper the thorns may be the sweeter shall be my song.”
St Therese sacrificed her will to a heroic degree for love of God. So much so that Pope Pius XI in 1924 called her “the greatest saint of modern times”.
We are called to be love, not a person of lip service.