Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!
About 60 years ago, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a backyard summer sports camp that her sister, who was intellectually challenged, would have fun with other kids. None of the other sports camps were open to children like Rosemary. It was never Eunice’s intention to do anything big—she just loved her sister and wanted to make life sweeter for her. But that backyard play-time evolved into what we now call “Special Olympics.”
Eunice gave the “highest gift” that St. Paul describes in today’s second reading—simple, selfless love. But we learn in the gospel that Jesus’ hometown was not interested in loving Jesus this way. Though they knew him from childhood, they did not love him unconditionally—they asked for signs and miracles, and when Jesus revealed their true hearts, they tried to throw him off a cliff! What a homecoming!
Today, Jesus is asking for the kind of open-hearted love from us that he hopes for from the people of his time and place. Love isn’t repeating “Lord, Lord” while feeling warm and fuzzy. Our Catechism reminds us that we can even sin by being ungrateful, indeed, or lukewarm toward God’s love (Sec. 2094).
We are “to love all creatures for God and because of God.” So we might use St. Paul’s list to ask: Are we kind when talking to someone who’s driving us crazy—especially family members? Are we patient and caring when interacting with animals? Do we show gratitude and wonder when caring for lawns, plants, and trees?
Don’t be discouraged if your love isn’t returned—remember the Special Olympics motto: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Let our small, brave attempts make a start toward transforming the world.
“If we live as Jesus taught us, and in harmony with what we proclaim, our witness will bear fruit” (Pope Francis tweet on January 3, 2018). Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish