‘I Will Love’–Life-changing!

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The following homily was given by Bishop Paul S. Loverde Oct. 23, Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the Diocesan RALLY at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington. 

Three words: not many letters in each one or in all three together, not difficult to spell, three short words, with the potential to change lives, to transform the culture, to bring about a new civilization of life and love! Three words: “I Will Love!”

Yes, these three words are the theme or motto for this year’s youth ministry. Of course, you know that these three words were spoken by Mother — now Saint — Teresa of Calcutta in her address to the United Nations Oct. 26, 1985. These are several sentences from her address: “And so today, when we have gathered here together, let us carry in our hearts one strong resolution: I will love. I will be a carrier of God’s love. For that is what Jesus came to teach us: how to love one another. …”

How appropriate is this theme, how on target! Mother Teresa was canonized a saint a month ago in September by Pope Francis. For years even before her death, she was hailed and admired as a great women of boundless love for others, especially the most needy and the very poor. So many young people, like yourselves, look up to her as a model for what it means to be a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ.

When I confirm, I hear many of you taking Mother Teresa as your Confirmation patron saint. Yesterday, one of the four recipients of the Y.E.S. Award clearly shared with all who were attending the Y.E.S. Award reception and banquet how Mother Teresa’s example changed her entire life!

Yes, I repeat, these three words: “I will love” have the potential to change lives, to transform the culture, to bring about a new civilization of life and love! Notice I said: “the potential”! Why? because these three words have to be made “actual,” “real,” and “effective.” Otherwise, these three words remain just “a nice resolution,” “a neat phrase” — and nothing more.

So, what makes these three words able to change lives, transform the culture, bring about a new civilization of life and love? A person open to the transforming power of Jesus’ love, and willing to love the way Jesus loves! Why? Because loving the way Jesus loves is not easy; it is difficult; it demands being unselfish, so not making “me and what I want” first; it demands self-giving to others, reaching out without counting the cost. Remember what Jesus said to His disciples just before He died on the cross for our salvation: “… love one another as I love you.” How does Jesus love us? All the way, to the Cross, without counting the cost! Look at the Crucifix! That is how much Jesus loves us! That is how we must love one another if we mean to carry in our hearts, as Mother Teresa said, one strong resolution: “I Will Love!” And, actually live it!

Honestly, on our own, we cannot love this way. But, with Jesus transforming us by His powerful grace and with His love in our hearts, we can live as did Mother Teresa, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, all the saints, and Our Blessed Mother. We can live: “I will love.”

So, we do need to be transformed. Mother Teresa asked God for this grace every day. Are you and I aware, first of all, that we need to be transformed, that on our own, with our gifted yet limited humanity, we cannot do this, but with Jesus, we can. What makes us aware? Our limitations, we all have some. And our sins: when we refuse to live the way Jesus teaches us to live though His Church and so we walk away from what is true, good, beautiful, and instead cling to what seems attractive yet fake, pleasurable but selfish, and, in the end, we experience emptiness, loneliness, frustration. To admit that we sometimes sin should not make us discouraged, but more dependent on Jesus, Who comes to help us, to forgive us, to save us. He never gives up on us. So, being aware of how much we need Him is a good thing, although it is not what the culture around us tells us.

The parable or story which Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel account is very contemporary or modern. There is the Pharisee, who is in the Temple, the House of God, praying. But, what does he tell God in his prayer? “Look at me: see how good I am! I do more than what I am asked to do. I am even much better than that tax collector back there!” Now listen to that tax collector, who prays: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” He was aware of his need for God’s transforming mercy! Doesn’t the Pharisee sound like the culture around us. “Look at me, I’m important and you’re not.”

Only when we are aware of our need for God, can we be open to His transforming power at work within us. Only when we are open to God’s life and love within us, can we then love others the way Jesus Christ, the Son of God, loves. Yes, that is how Mother Teresa — and every saint — had the ability to live: “I Will Love!”

My young members of the Church, you, the young Church of Arlington, you too can carry in your hearts this one strong resolution of three words: “I Will Love!” You can — and you will — if you are honest enough, which means humble enough, to admit your need for God’s forgiveness and mercy, His transforming power, so you can live: “I Will Love” in small but still life-changing ways— being kind and helpful at home, speaking encouraging words, smiling with Christ’s joy within you, reaching out to those in need, whether nearby or faraway. Today, we observe World Mission Sunday, praying for and supporting missionaries, like Mother Teresa, who leave comfortable homes and careers to bring the joy of the Gospel and the love of Jesus to people in need everywhere!

Yes, young Church, gathered here together, make one strong resolution today: “I Will Love!” In daily prayer and at Mass every weekend, ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you and to transform you, so you can mean what you resolve: “I Will Love!”

And, I too am joining you in making this one strong resolution of three words: with you, every day, I Will Love!

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016

@Bishop_Loverde

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