By Fr. Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S.
One day a mom was driving her daughter to school when she began thinking, “I wonder what my daughter will be when she grows up?”
Looking over at her daughter she noticed she was playing with her mom’s stethoscope. The mom thought to herself, “Wonderful, maybe she’ll be a doctor or a nurse like me!” At that moment, the little girl put the ear tips of the stethoscope in her ears and the chest piece up to her mouth and said: “Welcome to McDonalds, can I take your order please?”
All around us we find role models to follow, people who live their life in such a way that we want follow their example. In our readings today we hear about several prophets of the Lord, Jeremiah, Elijah and Elisha, who faced rejection and suffering when proclaiming God’s word, yet persevered in their calling as a testimony of their love for God and God’s people.
In a similar way, Jesus meets with some strong resistance when he points out that God’s love is open to all people. God’s healing presence was not just for the chosen people of God, but also for Gentiles, those unbelievers whose new faith proved to be a source of life for them. Staying true to Jesus’ commitment to love unconditionally He accepted the way of the cross.
Last year in an Angelus address, Pope Francis said, “There is no true love without the cross.” If there were another way, Jesus would have shown us. St. Thomas Aquinas helps us to see why this is so through his definition of love, “to love is to will the good of the other and act upon it.” Love is all about being concerned for the other person, not so we can be honored or glorified but simply for the sake of the other. Living in love is all about breaking free from our own wants and desires to direct our efforts for the good of another person. In doing so we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to another, letting go of control of what others will do with what we offer.
To go a little deeper into what this means in day-to-day life, St. Paul provides us with a helpful description of love. One year a retreat director invited us to use today’s second reading as a meditation but with one small adjustment. Whenever we saw the word love in this reading, we were to replace the word love with our own name. So instead of reading “Love is patient, Love is kind,” I was to read, “Angelo is patient, Angelo is kind.” Praying with this passage in such a personal way really changed the way I saw this reading. It was no longer love in the abstract like the hearts and flowers and bumper sticker kind of love we see advertised around us. Now I am challenged to ask myself, “Am I patient?” “Am I kind?” And if I am not, then I am not fully living God’s call to love nor am I being a good role model for others to follow.
Reflect St. Paul’s passage, 1 Cor 13: 4-8s, using your name in place of “love,” and ponder the ways you can be more loving and celebrate the ways that you reflect God’s love to others. You never know when someone is watching how you live the law of love.
Fr. Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S., is the pastor of the Downtown Dayton parishes, which include Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph. He also serves as the vice moderator general of the worldwide Congregation.