Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
When I worked for Irving Oil Ltd., every employee had to wear name tags. Above each of our names was the company crest and mission statement: “Where service means everything.” For the Irving ‘service’ was key to the company’s identification, reputation, and its goal for customers. Many parishes have a Mission Statement. I spent 2 summers at Stella Maris Parish, as a seminarian, with Fr. Tom. Their Mission Statement was, “To bring Jesus to the people and the people to Jesus.” Simple. Practical. Memorable. If a Mission Statement is to long to be remembered then it loses its effect. Or if the Mission Statement is simply set in a frame, posted on walls or bulletins and forgotten then it’s purpose is lost.
In the Gospel for today, Jesus gives us a Mission Statement for how we are to live our lives as Christians. If we truly want to follow Him, we must love God with our whole being and our nieghbour as ourselves. As with all mission statements, if we simply post it and fail to act on it, it will not make a difference in our lives. The sentiments of these two statements: “to love God and love neighbour,” sounds great, but what does this really look like when it is lived out? To love God with our whole mind, heart, and soul requires more than a nice thought every now and then. This is a radical call… a total commitment on our part. We are called to make God our top priority and to put time and effort into this relationship! And we do this in reading Scripture, celebrating the Sacraments and talking with God and listening to God’s voice in the silence, the wind, in prayer. When we put God as top priority, everything else falls into place.
The second part of the commandment is equally important. However it’s often interpreted as ‘love your neighbour as much as you love yourself.’ This interpretation requires that we first love ourselves before we can love anyone else. While it is true that we cannot pass on what we do not have, it does not get to the crux of Jesus’ meaning. We are called to love our neighbour as another self. The love of self is accepting who we are, with all our goodness and our faults. In other words, it’s embracing our total self.
This past week was very busy. Sickness and funerals seem to be endless and add to this the stress of dealing with covid 19, I witnessed many people suffering. However, I am always moved by how the community, family and friends surround those who are hurting or in pain to offer support either by doing something, bringing food, speaking words of encouragement, running errands or as a silent presence. Regardless, people are there with their hearts in sync…sharing in the grief and offering hope.
But what are other ways do we live this mission statement to love God and neighbour as self? Are we complying with the rules and regulations to fight covid 19? Are we open to new ways of doing things? Perhaps we could stretch our hearts to include those we do not agree with? Or perhaps by accepting those considered unacceptable by putting ourselves in their shoes?
As a parish, look how we rise to the need of others: collecting back to school supplies for our local schools and coming up, our donations to Lonewater Farm which helps men in addictions. “Purses” for the women who work the streets and soup for Avenue B.
“Prayer and Work”… “ora et labora” in Latin. This is the crux found in the very mission statement that Jesus offers us today, which is the path of discipleship; love God and love your neigbour as you love yourself.” May we continue to put these word of Jesus into practice.