In today’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching us a lesson about what true love means. Have you ever nursed a sick family member or a beloved animal through difficult days and nights? Had to administer medications, hold them, wash them, be with them right through their last breath? Are you raising a child with special needs? Or caring for a spouse with dementia? Then you have a better idea of what Jesus really means here. True love strips it all away. We find ourselves doing things we never imagined we could. Everything else that we used to think important just falls away, doesn’t it? We finally experience detachment from all unnecessary things.
This living for the essentials is the kind of detachment Jesus was calling for in today’s gospel: not that we become cold and distant, but that we love with such purity and total giving, that none of the non-essentials will hold us back. He calls us to focus on the essential purpose of life, and to detach from everything which prevents us from doing that. We all cling to certain relationships and things. Instead of love, we just have addictions to certain people and possessions.
Mary, Jesus’ mother, was one who took her whole life and made it completely open to the truth; she pondered things in her heart, instead of spouting opinions. Try entering into a conversation in a totally open way—without clinging to your opinions. That means you have to detach yourself from “group think.” Suddenly, you have to really listen to the ideas of the person opposite you. This is the stripping away of self that love demands.
Tomorrow, September 5th is Labor Day, a day to give thanks to the Lord “who gives success to the work of our hands.” Let us pray for all the employed and unemployed throughout these great United States…so please join us for Mass either at 6:45 or 9:00 a.m. As we celebrate the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta today, I pray that the Lord may continue to bless you and keep you always in His Love through the loving intercession of St. Teresa of Calcutta. This was her favorite prayer, a prayer of Cardinal John Henry Newman:
Help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go
Flood my soul with thy spirit of love.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of thine.
Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel thy presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus.
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. Amen.
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish