Sunday, October 23, 2016

It is often easier to fight for your principles than to live up to them.

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end... I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me. ~Abraham Lincoln: (1809 – 1865: was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865)

Gospel Text: (LK 18:9-14)
Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity --
greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

As we move to Election Day in the U.S., I think Jesus’ words may give us pause and a caution not to fall into the “heresy” of the Pharisee in the parable. Once again, I am reminded of Martin Luther Kings’ take on agape, which he gave in a speech on November 16, 1961:

Agape is understanding, creative redemptive good will to all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. Theologians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart. So that one rises to love on this level, he loves men not because he likes them, not because their ways appeal to him, but he loves every man because God loves them. And he rises to the point of loving the person who does an evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said “love your enemies.” I’m very happy that he didn’t say like your enemies, because it is pretty difficult to like some people. … But Jesus says love them, and love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive creative, good will for all.

To follow Jesus is to live in the whole truth: Not only does God love us, God loves all. May God’s love strengthen us, as it did St. Paul, which we hear in our second reading from 2 Timothy (4:6-8, 16-18) today at Mass, and like St. Paul, may the proclamation of the truth of God’s love for the world in Jesus Christ be “completed” through us!

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