Jesus said to his disciples: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
God is love. But what exactly does love mean? It is one of those words we often say but can mean so many different things to different people. What does the word love really mean? Well, instead of asking me, let us ask the Lord. The Lord taught us that love means to give and forgive. So now the question is, “What exactly am I suppose to give?” Over the years I have witnessed some growing and concerning trends within the Church and some of her institutions. Too many of our people think we are simply to help clothe the naked, feed the hungry and take care of the sick. But in today’s Gospel, we are reminded of a type of gift we are to give that is not always easy to give. We are commanded to give the gift of Christ; to give the gift of our faith and to share with others our experience of reconciliation and forgiveness.
“Thus says the Lord: You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death.” (Ezekiel 33:7-9)
Too many of us have taken the path of ignorance. We often say, “Who am I to tell so-and-so what they are doing is wrong?” Who am I to judge? We might even say, “I owe them nothing! It’s their problem not mine!” This path not only leads to the destruction of the sinner, but also of the Christian! We know better. I know I must help my neighbor, for this is the reason my neighbor (or this stranger) came into my life!
“Brothers and sisters: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Rm 13:8) In other words, God has reconciled the world to himself in Christ and has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation! What is this message of reconciliation? It is the sharing with others my humanity and Christ’s divinity! When I open myself to criticism, to acknowledging my failings and faults, then I leave the door open for another to walk through it; to do the same thing! I cannot emphasize enough how precious this act of love is in the eyes of my neighbor! Those who labor and heavy burdened with guilt can come to me and I can take them to Christ!
We owe everything to God who loved us unconditionally. For this reason, we owe our love to our neighbor. It’s hard to be human today! It is very hard to be human today. We are expected to be perfect in everything we say and do! That’s probably why I am so terrified of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing. That's probably the reason why I don’t help or get involved with anyone.
But the Lord tells us to get involved; to do His Will; to open oneself to Him and to others. He invites us to follow in his example. He invites us to be a Saint!
A college student called me up a few days ago and was crying on the phone. She explained to me how difficult it was to live her Catholic faith on campus. She was crying not because she had made mistakes but because so many of her friends were getting themselves into serious troubles. One friend recently wanted to kill herself. After talking to her for over four hours she was able to talk her out of it. She told me her friend’s birthday was coming up and wondered what she should give her. I told her, “Give her a rosary.” She told me, “Father, my friend doesn’t believe in God.” I told her, “It doesn’t matter. Give her a rosary.” She told me, “But she won’t know what to do with it.” I told her, “Will you listen to me and give her a rosary!!!”
Well, the next day, she called me up and told me what happened. She said, “Father, I thought about what you said and decided to give her the book, Seven highly effective habits for teenagers. She liked it and thanked me. But then I handed her a little box. She opened it and saw the rosary. I explained to her what it was. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “This is the most meaningful gift I have ever received!”
Fear is the guillotine of would-be Saints! Let us learn from salvation history and chop the ugly head of fear, and replace it with Christ! It may be hard to be human. But it has never been easier to be a Saint!