Homily Living the Commandment in the Real World
When studying philosophy, especially Marxism, which I did in the seminary. Please do not assume that means I embrace Marxism, I don’t. You learn of the Hegelian dialectic and you learn that Karl Marx turns the Hegelian dialectic upside down. Then when you ask someone to define dialectic in this case, you get a muddled answer. Eventually, I learned the reason why it is so muddled is because no one knows what the Hegelian Dialectic means.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus call us to love one another. However, we have to define love.
I mentioned last week that I feel that the Baltimore Catechism although did not contain bad information is not a good source of catechism today because of the way it is written. It is a series of questions with one or two-sentence answers. Today we would call it Catechism by Twitter. So it gives you a basic understanding of the faith but our faith is profound. If Jesus calls us to love one another then we must certainly define the word love before we understand anything else.
What it means to love is to do no harm and to do what is best for others. Do unto others as you would others do unto you.
So let us look at this demand from another perspective. I saw a video this week from Chris Hedges and he talked about a study that found it is not the fittest that survive but those organizations that foster the most mutual cooperation. Societies built on a mutual understanding and cooperative effort will survive. He also found that there comes a point where a society gets too big to live by this cooperative effort and then it must split into smaller societies or collapse.
Let’s look at it this way. Freedom is found when people cooperate and do what is best for each other. This is the action of loving one another. If I live in a neighborhood and we as neighbors do what is best for one another all the time, our neighborhood will thrive. However, if I live in a neighborhood where everyone or enough people do what is best for themselves and reject everyone else, the neighborhood will be an unpleasant crime-ridden place to live.
People who live co-operatively build a peaceful, loving society. People who live antagonistically build a warring society. So Jesus is telling us to live in a way that, come to find out, is scientifically proven to be beneficial. Loving our neighbor in all circumstances. This means we do what is best for others and they do what is best for us.
Jesus calls us to do what the Lord asks of us and to do what is best for our neighbor and everyone we meet that is loving God and neighbor. If we do that we will have mutual co-operation which brings peace.
However, if we do not have mutual cooperation we open ourselves to tyranny. Tyranny is forced co-operation. “Comrade, you will do it and you will like it.”
So, when Jesus is telling us to love one another, he is actually speaking from the deep wisdom of God that includes all scientific knowledge even of that we have yet to discover. He is speaking from a position of wisdom and love.
We become agents of love and of light when we choose to embrace his way rooted in divine wisdom. We become lost when we choose to reject his way and live by our own wisdom. Let me remind you again that Jesus speaks from a position of divine wisdom which is full of all knowledge human and divine. When we say God is omniscient it does not mean he knows what we had for breakfast this morning. It means that God knows all things including the composition of all planets in every solar system. We are not so wise and so by humbly listening to the ways of Christ we are humbly listening to a greater wisdom that will lead us to truth, all truth.
Therefore, when Jesus calls us to live in love he is calling us to live by his wisdom.
This is what Jesus is teaching. We cannot do this unless we root ourselves in prayer to be challenged by he who is love.
If you look at what is the problem in our country today, it is a ditching divine wisdom for a limited knowledge of scientific information garnered by a chosen few. They demand a society their way and recruit political forces to create it. Completely alienated from the ways of God they create a world that opens itself to tyranny. Tyranny, as I said is forced co-operation.
So we have two groups in our country that are demanding our country their way. It is causing greater division every day. Each one claims to have God in their corner.
We come from a different perspective, our world God’s way and that is a world built on love expressed in doing what is best for one another at all times. We humbly submit ourselves to the will of God through prayer and growing in Christ.
That love is not on a political level but an interpersonal level. It is in neighborhoods and not in halls of governments.
One example I can give is a funeral I celebrated many years ago I never forgot. It was a funeral service at JB Johnson funeral home in Roxbury just South of Nubian Square. I was asked by another priest to do it, as he was busy.
To make a long story short, I learned when I got there, the deceased was a homeless man who died on a street in Roxbury. The residents of the street, although they did not know him, took a collection and worked with the funeral home to make sure he had a good burial. I never forgot that funeral.
When I was at WUMB, we used to play a folk song written and sung by a man named Obawaio. He sang of a man who died at Ryker's Island and his friends and relatives came to his wake and funeral. The point of his song was where were all these people when he was alive.
Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin taught if we were to live our Catholic faith in action we need only live the corporal and spiritual works of holiness rooted in our prayer and Mass. This is what it means to love.
Come attend Mass with us on Sundays at 10:00 am at St. Anthony Parish in Allston, MA