28th Sunday Reflection: Over All… Put On Love
Franciscan Reflections From The Hermitage – 28th Sunday Ordinary Time Year A – Over All… Put On Love – (Matthew 22:1-4)
A king gives a feast for his son’s wedding. This is a special kind of feast which celebrates the establishment of harmony by the breaking of the bonds of debt held in the treasury of the King. The parable therefore evokes a moment when a community, or an individual, is invited to make an end of separateness and a beginning of unity, of integrity… within ourselves, in the world and in our community.
Sadly, some people prefer to remain divided… to separate themselves and to set up their own ‘kingdoms’. They are caught up in their own affairs… some to a ‘farm’ and others to a ‘business’, and they reject those who ‘invite them to the wedding’. This rejection moves through different stages… at first, they merely make excuses that will eventually become their illusions and the bedrock of their blindness… then they react disdainfully… and finally comes the anger. We just don’t like seeing ourselves, our greed, our selfishness, and our illusions of grandeur in the Light of God’s Goodness rather than in the stage lights of our ‘performance’.
And so we are called out of our illusions, invited as Christians to assemble and to celebrate in a spirit of joyful and thankful encounter. As on a wedding day, our clothes are chosen carefully to reflect the importance of the day in our lives. St Paul gives us some guidance as to the clothes that we should wear.
These are the clothes worn in response to Christ’s love, modelled on Christ’s love, and empowered by Christ’s love. First, be clothed in Christ. This begins and ends with our identity as people whose primary allegiance is to Christ. When it is all about ‘myself’ and what I can get out of a relationship, all I get is me… and this will never be enough.
The first thing as God’s chosen people… forgive as the lord forgave you. Let go of the bonds we hold over the mistakes of others. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Then we are to put on Compassion, literally a heart of pity. Compassion is an inner attitude we have to each other… a fullness of tender caring for and about the other’s vulnerabilities and strengths which will overflow into how you treat each other, in public and in private.
Like our encounter with Christ, it begins with the eyes. When we say ‘no’ to an encounter it always begins with the eyes. We see this when people refuse to make any eye contact… there is no compassion… there is no heart of pity… we just do not see them or acknowledge their presence. This is where we can find the true nature of the horror of war.
Then we are called to put on Kindness, to always seek the good of the other as we deal with each other’s weaknesses and sore spots.
We are called to clothe ourselves in Humility. This one’s essential. Pride ruins a community. Pride makes us selfish. It keeps you from owning up to your own mistakes. It makes me say, “I’m better than you”.
Encounter with the other also requires Respect. When we are disrespectful and disdainful of others’ time and space we subvert God’s gifts to the other. When I gossip, steal or abuse the other’s property, not only am I disrespectful but I become that wicked servant who is envious of God’s gift to others.
The clothing of obedience, of submission… to place our work and our mission below that of the Father’s calling. We are to work in ways that support and build up the body of the Christ here in our community with devotion and steadfast loyal commitment. Caring for each other, building each other up, and sending each other out, stronger, and more equipped by our love.
When we put on the clothes of gentleness, the other can take off the self-defensive armour. And when that happens, trust can thrive and intimacy can reside.
Patience… This one’s huge. You cannot expect perfection from each other. Each one of us is flawed, each one of us has weaknesses, and has the ability to ‘mess up’, to be stubborn, and drive each other crazy.
And, over all these virtues, above all else, put on love. Love keeps our communion… our community being real rather than a pretence.
The greater picture of love is found in the cross. Christ showed his love, by dying for the church, and he calls out through the pages of scripture, through the scripture that should dwell in your hearts richly, love one another, like this.
And… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace… peace is more than the absence of war…biblically… peace, shalom, is a sense of blessedness. It’s the right ordering of the world. It’s the way things should be.
Let his peace that passes all understanding, that calmness, that contentment that comes from him, rule in your lives. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace… And be thankful.
Be thankful in the good times and in the bad. Be thankful that whatever you face, you have each other, and him. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- First Sunday of Advent Reflection: Wake Up and Remember - December 1, 2023
- Christ the King Reflection: Freed From Our Addiction To Glory - November 24, 2023
- 33rd Sunday Reflection: Love comes to those who have Love already - November 17, 2023