30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
October 23, 2011
If there is anyone who lived to the letter what we prayed for at the beginning of this Mass, it is St. Paul. He, among so many others, “received the word in great affliction” (2nd reading). But he was not alone. He writes today to the Thessalonians, whom he commends for “becoming imitators of him and of the Lord.”
St. Paul and the Thessalonians are not alone either. Even from among my readers, I do know, as I know deep in my heart, that a number of you suffered, and still suffer, for standing strong in defense of what Holy Mother Church, in obedience to the Lord, teaches! I refer specially to your ardent opposition to the RH bill.
I know that you know. Please know that I know, too, and that, with St. Paul, with all the members of the “cloud of witnesses,” I care, as God cares, as God loves, as God would have you do.
Today, our opening prayer should not fail to touch everyone’s heart: “Strengthen our faith, hope, and love. May we do with loving hearts what you ask of us and come to share the life you promise.”
The life God promises … this, at bottom, is what we all hold onto. This, at the end of the day, is what gives us the power to go on “doing with loving hearts” what is basically difficult to do.
Let us face it. It is difficult to move away and shy away from our own version of “idols.” It is hard to give up our comfort zones, everything that gives us the impression we are securely on solid ground … everything that we enjoy, all things pleasant, all kinds of goods that make life easier and more livable. It is hard to give up the “idol” of a higher quality of life for all: like less traffic, less trash in the streets, less squatters by the waterways … less people to divide up what is left on earth … less poor people to ruin our national reputation, less GDP … less exports … less everything!
It is hard to give up what we think is going to make life materially better for all … Did I say “all?” What about the unborn? What about those who would never stand the chance of seeing the light of day at all? What about the old who are no longer productive? What about those who have any form of disability and therefore, do not fit the mould of the “normal” person in some way?
But let us not make any mistake about it. God, according to Scriptures, is on the side of the oppressed, the alien, the widow, the orphan. God is on the side of the powerless and the helpless!
But secular society and culture, apparently, are not. They are on the side of those who already are alive, and alive to the full, materially, physically speaking. Secular, materialist, hedonist culture sides with those who are rich enough and powerful enough to decide against those who have no full possession yet of their full human faculties simply because their level of HUMAN development, is still in its initial (read: helpless) stages.
It is easy to love those who already enjoy what earthly life can offer. But it is easy to ignore the rights of those one does not yet see, or one who cannot speak up for him or herself … But a human being is no less human just because he or she cannot yet do what the rest of us take for granted, and wrongly equate, with the fullness of humanity.
It is hard to give up one’s sense of entitlement. It is hard to part with goods that seem to be threatened by the influx of more mouths to feed, and more people to take care of. It is hard to love others, especially if we look at others as threats to our own well-being.
Let us call a spade a spade. Self-love can push us to love others less, including those who are still potentially “others like us” – the unborn. But loving oneself legitimately does not mean we ought to love others less. It just means we need to love others as we love ourselves.
Let us not mince words here. There is something selfish in our wanting to limit the population. This has been said over and over again. The mere fact that this is being funded, if not pushed, by certain extremely capitalist countries should make us all beware. There is more to it than meets the eye. And it has nothing to do with love for you, but more about love for their threatened comfort and threatened “quality of life.”
The Good News today is totally clear on the issue. It has to do with love in its totality, not selective love, but love that is all encompassing. And it starts out where it begins and flows from ultimately – with God, whom we are commanded to love “with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.” But it does not begin, and end with God. We are told, too, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that includes, mind you, even our potential neighbors, our potential Einsteins, Steve Jobs, and yes – even potential problems, like some of us are, in fact, to present society. God loves them all. God makes His sun to shine on the bad and the good alike, for His love is, was, and never will be, selective.
In the meantime, I would like to encourage those who, like me, like some of my readers, and many who defend the Church’s teachings, continue to “receive the word in great affliction.”
The Church prays for you, with you, and cries out on your behalf … “May we do with loving hearts what you ask of us!”
And yes! There is more than just this. We look forward to this in the hope that only Christian believers can fully understand … “May we come to share the life you promise” … maybe not here … not now … but it will come, as surely as God loves us, and as God loves the helpless and the powerless.