“The believer does not turn to the Holy Scriptures to support his or her own philosophical and moral view, but because he or she hopes for an encounter.”
Anytime one is in the business of soliciting people’s opinions, one must be ready for what might come back. That being said, after 17 years I’m still a little surprised at times, not so much at the content of what I receive, but the delivery. More and more, people feel a little more comfortable sharing their opinions, how should we say, "colorfully?" In a recent project in which someone was sharing with me a greater need for reverence at the Mass, the individual finished their written dissertation with the phrase, "you dumb ass." Besides the irony of the person using the profane to make a case for the sacred, I breathed a deep sigh of disappointment and quoted this Sunday’s Gospel to myself sarcastically, "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Perhaps they need to read that one again, I thought. I quickly began a long mental list of other things I thought they needed to read or be reminded of based on my interaction. As I was railing about my encounter with a priest friend of mine and quoting the Scripture again that I’d like to quote to my email buddy, my friend suggested I might consider what the same Scripture was saying to me first.
For a moment I felt like maybe I deserved the name bestowed upon me in the email. How quickly can I weaponize my faith in situations where I feel wronged or hurt? No matter how right I may be, do I first seek to understand how the Lord is speaking to me through His Word or do I begin by projecting the message I wish He would speak to others? As we seek to be teachers of the faith to others, do we still remember that we are learners? I reread the whole passage from John. "As I have loved you…" struck me in a new way. I was reminded that the measure of our discipleship not only rests in the love we initiate to those we enjoy, but perhaps even greater in how we respond to those who meet us with hate. As we begin this week, let’s give thanks that the Lord speaks to each of us in the here and now and let’s pray that we embrace our personal call to holiness before we expect others to follow suit.