There was a lot of love in action last week in Boston and in the Texas town of West. In your own hometown, perhaps you witnessed someone showing love in action. Not so loving was the Senate’s rejection of a debate on universal background checks, and obviously the actions of the two young men who set off the Marathon bombs. And again, in your hometown news, there was violence of one kind or another.
Every day at Mass, after the Our Father, we ask the Lord to “keep us safe from all distress.” Every time I pray that phrase, I think of those people who have woken up or will wake up to a perfectly normal day, only to have it shattered by some act of accidental or pre-meditated violence. And I know that there will be people responding with care and love. That’s what we do; it’s who we are.
Violence affects us on a deep visceral level. How many of those going to last Saturday’s Blue-Gold game, for example, momentarily wondered if something bad might happen? At Mass this morning I was even thinking about how I would react if someone came in the chapel door and started shooting folks. There are really evil people out there, and no place is safe.
Now into all this comes the challenge from Sunday’s Gospel: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples,” Jesus said, “if you have love for one another. “
This love that Jesus calls us to is not an emotional thing. No way. Rather, it is a sense of caring, of compassion, of trying to understand the other. For example, watching the manhunt for the younger brother, I couldn’t help but think how frightened he must have been. He absolutely deserves the full consequences for his evil deed, but he is still a human being worthy of some compassion, even though he had no compassion for those who were killed and maimed. It’s the same love Jesus showed in the cross, even though he received nothing in return but hate and obscene ridicule.
You and I are defined as a disciple of Jesus not by how we individually behave, or by our personal moral life, but by how we care for others in thought, word, and deed.
With love … and prayer!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.