Love God and His people, not things – September 2023

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Where is your heart? Does it swell with the love of God or is it shrunken because of your difficulty to overcome pettiness or jealousy?

As we were watching and waiting for the arrival of Hurricane Idalia, I pondered the many things of which we take stock and their significance. It occurred to me that these things are only precious because of the people with which they relate. A favorite chest is filled with memories of our parents, or the comfortable chair reminds us of a family gathering or the photo which we cherish is only meaningful because of the people within it.

Scripture offers us this lesson time and time again. St. Paul reminds the people in his letter to the Romans. Do not hold onto things. Love God and His people, not things. When storms or difficulties come our way, we may find ourselves profoundly praying for our family and friends.  Then, we realize the importance of the people within our lives. We see how superfluous all the other things are.

Really, how do you want to be known? Do you want to be known by the beauty of your physical home or the way you entertain or your sports prowess or your work ethic or that you reached the top of your business or class? Or, would you like to be known by the love you shared with one another because of your love of God … that you are a dwelling place of God? I pray it is the latter.

We are all called to live as a dwelling place of God; to sanctify time and place and people; to glorify God through our daily routines and extraordinary occurrences. It is not something which we turn on and off; living as a dwelling place of God is all ways. St. Paul reminds us that love is not simply avoiding actions that are evil, but love involves moving outside of oneself in order to support the lives of others. As a dwelling place of God, we offer God’s Peace through forgiveness of one another. We do not spread hurt or despair, but God’s generous mercy. Let us also not misinterpret what this forgiveness means. We are called to show each other the path to the Way, the Truth and the Life. If someone is doing something outside God’s law, we are to help him or her see the matchless path to heaven. Being a dwelling place of God is not only within ourselves, but we draw upon each other to also infuse holiness within our world.

Jesus tells us that as God’s dwelling place we are to pray unceasingly. He tells us we are not alone but in community. We are in communion with Him and we receive Him in the Eucharist so we are nourished to go forth and love and serve Him through each other.

One of the monikers for September is Suicide Prevention Month. I will be celebrating a Mass for Remembrance and Healing for those affected by suicide Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at St. James Cathedral.  May God’s eternal light shine upon these families, friends and communities who have been affected by the incidence of suicide. May we, as a dwelling place of God, offer His eternal Peace to those who are filled with sorrow.

On Sep. 24, we recall the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees and pray for those who are displaced. Throughout salvation history, God’s people have migrated to other lands because of their desire for God and for their physical survival. The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt was a migratory act and left the Holy Family as refugees. Pope Francis says the words of Jesus “are a constant admonition to see in the migrant not simply a brother or sister in difficulty, but Christ himself, who knocks at our door.”

Will our living as a dwelling place of God make it easy to love one another? If we acclaim God as the rock of our salvation and receive Him in the Eucharist, we will have spiritual nourishment, fortification, and courage to do our very best before God.