Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
February 3rd, 2013
Year C

There was a sick man who went to the doctor's office with his wife. The doctor examined the man and ran some tests while his wife waited in the reception area. When the doctor emerged with a concerned look on his face, the wife became anxious. “Doctor, will my husband be okay?” she inquired. “I'm afraid your husband is very ill,” the doctor replied. “He has a rare form of anemia, and if it is left untreated, he will most certainly die from it. However, there is a cure.” “A cure?” she asked. “Yes. With rest and proper nutrition, the disease will go into remission and your husband should live for many more years. Here's what I want you to do: Take your husband home and treat him like a king. Fix him three home-cooked meals a day, and wait on him hand and foot. Bring him breakfast in bed. Don't let him do anything that you can do for him. If he needs something, you take care of it. Oh, and one more thing. Because his immune system is weak, you'll need to keep your home spotless. Any questions?” The wife had none. Do you want to break the news to your husband, or shall I?” asked the doctor. “Oh please, doctor, let me break it to him,” the wife replied. She walked into the examination room. The husband, sensing that something was wrong, said, “It's bad, isn't it? What have I got?” His wife answered with a tear in her eye, “The doctor said you're going to die.”

While this is a funny story, what is not so funny is that we can be like this wife in many ways. We, as Christians, believe in Christ’s love for us, we try to imitate that love in the way we live our lives but it is difficult. Our sinful inclinations do not like the sacrifice that is involved in being Christ-like.

The second reading of the Mass reminds us that love – charity – is the highest of all the virtues. Often called the hymn of charity, it speaks to us of the meaning of love. In our culture today the term ‘love’ is used mainly to describe a person’s emotions. For the modern person, love is passive and based on feelings. St. Paul teaches us that true love is the exact opposite. While emotions and feelings certainly accompany love they do not define it. The virtue of charity is anything but passive. It is an act of the will, it is based on one’s desire for the good – the benefit of another, and it is self-less/self-giving. Sometimes feelings come with authentic love but feelings are an unnecessary accessory. The greatest that one can give is by looking to Cross of Jesus Christ. On cross, Jesus surely had feelings – pain, hurt, abandonment – these were not nice feelings. As such, Christ’s sacrifice teaches us what true love is all about – sacrifice, letting go of our selfish tendencies and placing others ahead of us. This is what makes charity the highest of all the virtues. At our baptism we were given – infused into our souls – the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Faith in God gives way to the vision of Him for all eternity; hope gives way to the possession of God; love remains. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us the charity is the beginning of heaven and eternal life will consist of an uninterrupted act of charity (ST, I-II, q.114,a.4).

We were created for this love and we cannot live without it. This was a consistent theme of Pontificate of Blessed Pope John Paul II. In his Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis, he writes:

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it” (RH, n.10).

St. Paul exhorts today to make love our aim for it is the greatest of all the virtues and God’s principal commandment. It is a virtue that is put to the test every moment of everyday. How will respond? How will we act? At any moment of the day we can say something nice, avoid gossip, let someone take our seat, open door, smile, say hello, help someone in need, volunteer our time, or speak a word of encouragement. For this love is not mere sentiment or good fellowship nor is it a false zeal that only seeks to convince ourselves of our superiority. This virtue brings us closer to our neighbor. It is not to be confused with mere humanitarianism because living this love we venerate the image of God in others. As such, others will then learn how to turn to Christ and love just the same. Ultimately, to live virtuously means to habitually do that which is good. God, as we know, is the highest Good that can be reached. Virtue, thus, has God as its object and origin. To live in love, to choose to act charitably each day means to seek that which is good for our souls – it means that we haven chosen to follow God in all that we do. As followers of Jesus Christ let us make love our aim so as to be truly Christ-like in all that we say and do.  








Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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