We can sit in Fear…or we can care for the Earth and help others
I believe there is an African Proverb says: People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used.
Perhaps the reason why the world is in a bit of chaos is because we love things too much, and use people too often. Today’s First Reading reminds us of the connection between actions and the transformation of others. The Apostles went out to the rejected people – symbolised by the Samaritans – and gave themselves as well as sharing the Good News with them.
The result was the transformation of the people who received them and the Good News.
Perhaps we can reflect as a Church whether we spend too little time going out to those in need?
Perhaps part of the reason we are slow to “go out” and share the Good News is that we, as individuals, are not sure why we believe anymore. Are we like the baby fish asking its mother: “where is this ocean that people talk about?” Do we recognise God’s Blessings in our lives? Or are we seeing them as things that other people do/did, and not God?
Why do you believe? Paul challenges us in the Second Reading to take time to develop our reasons, so we can more clearly share them with others: “…always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have.” Do you have hope?
If we don’t understand why we believe, then our commitment to keeping the Commandments may also start to reduce. However, if we love God – measured by our desire to work with God – then the words of Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel help us to know how:
“If you love me you will keep my commandments.” Why? Because the Commandments are designed to protect ourselves and our neighbour from selfish behaviour. The Commandments might be frustrating at times (who hasn’t wanted to kill someone!); but they are also a gift. That someone we wanted to kill yesterday becomes our helper tomorrow.
Now, because Jesus is fully human, as well as fully Divine, we know that Jesus understands our frustrations: the Bible reveals Jesus becoming frustrated with the disciples! So, to help us He said: God will “…give you another Advocate to be with you for ever,…”
Today, let us reflect on the 1st & 2nd Commandments: summed up by Jesus as “love God.” Why? Because I believe these Commandments demands of us – not empty words – but care for the earth and the Universe – yes, we should not throw rubbish into outer-space!
On Saturday we started the world week of reflection on Laudato Si: some Christians have not heard of it. So please google it. Five years ago, this month, Pope Francis released a very important document calling on all people to reflect on our use of the earth, and how we can improve our respect for the earth? Our healthy futures are connected to a healthy earth.
I’m connecting Laudato Si to the 1st & 2nd Commandments o help us make sense of the Commandments in a practical way: it is not about God wanting us to grovel in the dust and make loud praises to God to keep God happy!
These Commandments are an invitation to express our gratitude to God for the material world, and how God cares for us through the world. By respecting our earth, we show respect and love for God. And the reward for us is a healthy life, and a healthy future for our children. To chase money at any cost is to put God second – blasphemy – and we injure ourselves.
The final words I wish to recall from the Gospel today are words of encouragement.
“I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.”
To feel the true value of those Words, we must imagine we are 5 years old and our parents are in danger. Children are afraid when parents separate, but they are even more afraid if parents die because they fear they will not be protected or cared for.
Jesus is comforting us to know that we will never be “lost” or “forgotten” by God.
As we struggle to keep the Commandments, know that God is struggling with us,
willing to share our fear and pain, if only we are willing to consciously “talk” to God.
As the world faces an uncertain future, we people of the Resurrection, have a great opportunity to reach out – like the Apostle Philip – to those uncertain about God. How? By our sense of Hope displayed in acts of kindness, and by sacrificing what we have for others.
Do not be afraid – just keep doing good to help others and all fear will be manageable.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI