18th Sunday of Year A
Living and sharing the love of Christ.
Have you internalised Christ’s love in your life? What do I mean by that? There is hymn called “Love is His Word”. Part of the lyrics goes like this: “Love is his way, love is his mark”. By His life’s example, Jesus shows us how to love. When the Pharisees brought to Jesus an adulterous woman, Jesus did not condemn her. He forgave her and ask her not to sin again. (Jn 8:3-11) What about me? When I witness an evil act, do I forgive as Jesus do? Or do I become self-righteous and assume the role of a judge – and a harsh judge at that? We see such behaviour on social media every day. In another example, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, was he resentful to those who wrongfully accused and convicted him? No. Instead he said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34). Not only did Jesus pray for his enemies, he made excuses for them! In my life, when someone persecutes and hurts me deeply, do I forgive and pray for that person the same way Jesus did? And when I fail to love as Jesus did, when I feeling angry, resentful and revengeful towards another, do I come to Jesus to seek forgiveness? Just as He always do in the Bible, Jesus is always ready to forgive me. Having received His love and forgiveness, am I prepared to internalised Christ’s love in my life?
To internalise Christ’s love is to love as he love and live as he live. When we internalise Christ life into ours in this way, then as St Paul said, “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Or as the Second Reading put it, neither “hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” can separate us from the love of Christ (verse 35). In fact, the Second Reading went further, that not even “death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation” can separate us from the love of Christ (verse 38-39)!
When we have truly received Christ’s love in our hearts, we cannot help but want to pass it on freely to all our brothers and sisters who have yet to experience Christ’s love in this way. As the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said, “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jer 20:9) We receive freely, so we give freely. In the First Reading, the prophet Isaiah said, “everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (verse 1) Or as our Lord Jesus teaches, “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:8)
When we reach out Christ’s love to others, we need not worry how the person may react. Do not worry that others might ridicule us or not response in a positive manner. These are not things for us to worry about. We are mere workers in the Lord’s vineyard. Our task is to plant the seed – whether it is a consoling word in times of trouble or just a simple smile. Do not let the person’s reaction bother us. We just plant the seed and God will geminate that seed in His time. As we heard in the Gospel two weeks ago, “the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Mt 13:31-32) In the Gospel this week, the crowd was hungry and needed to be fed. We often encounter the same situation in our daily life. We too come across people in hunger – whether it is physical hunger, or more commonly, the hunger for love, understanding, and forgiveness. To those who hunger, Jesus gives us a mission in this week’s Gospel: “you give them something to eat” (verse 16). Yes, my brothers and sisters, it is our Christian mission to share the love of Christ to all we meet. And do not let any perceived difficulties concern you. The disciples worried about how they were going to feed a crowd of five thousand with five loaves and two fishes. Remember the mustard seed. We just do our bit and leave the rest in God’s hand. Let Him multiply my five loaves and two fishes. Let us go forth to love and to serve. Amen.