Jesus said to his disciples: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
What I’m about to write may sound very obvious, but as obvious as things may be, they may not be at the forefront of our minds. For example, the sun is an obvious thing, but we usually don’t give it a thought unless we want to avoid the sun or get a suntan.
Well, this is what I want to say: there is a strong relationship between faith and love, and the celebration of Lent offers us a valuable opportunity to meditate on this relationship; the relationship between believing in Jesus Christ and love.
There is no doubt about it: those who have a strong faith in Jesus Christ have a stronger tendency to show greater love, greater compassion, greater mercy and greater forgiveness towards sinners. Now I know what you are thinking: “Father, I know a priest that is mean spirited and is rude to others.” Well, I do too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this comment was directed towards me. But please understand, I’m not saying priests have a stronger tendency to show greater love. Of course they should, but I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that those who have a strong faith in Jesus Christ have a stronger tendency to show greater love. There are plenty of priests, bishops and nuns who are atheists. Some are even communists! But what I also know is that those who have a strong faith in Christ have a very strong love for others.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
The Christian understands that there is a very tight relationship between faith in Jesus Christ and love of neighbor. It’s no coincidence that those who love Christ do not believe in abortion (the taking of the life of an innocent person) nor in the death penalty for a hardened criminal. When those of little-to-no faith visit the prisons, it’s often to do research – to collect scientific data. For some of them may be more committed to the science of the criminal mind, than to the criminal’s conversion; and far more interested in making the death of the criminal as comfortable and humane as possible, than to any last message he wishes to offer to those he harmed.
Now there is another relationship that is very obvious but also may have been forgotten over time and during the course of some very bitter arguments and fights, and that is: love begets love. The more love you give, the more others will love. I know this is pretty obvious, but I also know it’s been very much forgotten.
Resolution: I will not forget the obvious. I will share it with others through my words and actions today.