September 10, 2023
FOCUS: Jesus is present when we gather together and love one another.
The liturgical gathering makes Christ present in numerous ways, such as through the proclamation of the word of God and in the Eucharist. Perhaps the most overlooked reality of Christ’s presence comes through the physical gathering of God’s people, who are instructed to owe nothing to anyone except love. This love between us makes God presence visible on earth.
What's in Your Heart
Why is it that humanity can’t seem to follow Jesus’ straightforward instructions to resolve our conflicts at the lowest level possible? Why the constant escalation? Ask yourself:
How do I handle disagreements and conflict in my professional and personal relationships? Do I confront them honestly or take a passive-aggressive approach?
When people disagree with me and conflict arises, am I genuinely interested in reconciliation and resolution? If so, what am I doing to foster it?
A remarkable story about Saint Francis tells of a brother who was a community leader having a very difficult time with a brother who was what we sometimes call a “repeat offender.” It’s not clear what the offender did, but it was so disheartening to the leader that he asked Saint Francis if he could just retire and go live as a hermit! In today’s gospel, Jesus proposes something else for someone who repeatedly refuses correction: If all else fails, treat the guy like a tax collector! Pretty harsh, until you remember how Jesus treated tax collectors and sinners—with forgiveness.
Saint Francis sure got the memo! He wrote to that beleaguered minister saying that like Jesus, he must forgive again and again. “There should be no brother in the world who has sinned, however much he may have possibly sinned, who, after he has looked into your eyes, would go away without having received your mercy, if he is looking for it. And if he does not ask for mercy, you should ask him if he wants it! And if he should sin thereafter a thousand times before your very eyes, love him more than me so that you may draw him back to the Lord.”
Love is not blind; that is the last thing that love is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound, the less it is blind.
And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Because we are made in God’s image, in fleeing from a relationship with a loving God, we are also running from being our most authentic selves.
Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
Everything must be done or not done, changed or not changed on account of charity. Charity is the principle by which and the end toward which everything must be guided. There can be no sin in what is accomplished, in all truth, for it, and according to its spirit.
—Isaac, Cistercian abbot of l’Etoile