Project Description

30 A Exodus 22:20-26 / 1 Thessalonians 1: 5c-10 / Matthew 22:34-40

 

I want to share with you a story

about one of my favorite

people in the whole world.

 

He was my spiritual director in the seminary

and homiletics professor.

 

He is—

for me—

an icon—

living the Christian faith to its fullest.

 

He just got it—

He got Jesus—

He got how much Jesus loved him. . .

And he loved Jesus back in return.

 

His insights into Christianity

were just phenomenal.

 

He would always say just the right thing—

or preach just the right homily—

or give me just the right book.

 

I think his phenomenal insight

came from a deep—deep—

understanding of the Scriptures. . .

 

and it came from the intimacy he had with Jesus.

 

He was a serious, serious pray-er.

 

Some people at the seminary didn’t quite get him. . .

But I did . . .

And others did too.

 

Beneath all his words. . .

and all his actions. . .

mysterious and head-scratching at times was. . .

 

the Gospel.

 

Sometimes out of step with the crowd . . .

Sometimes looking strangely different.

 

And what a humble, humble man.

 

One day,

while we were meeting—

he said something that

I could have just never imagined him saying. . . .

 

It shocked me like a bolt of lightning.

 

This icon of Christ to me said:

 

“You know Steve,

“it’s like I’m just now

getting the hang of what

it means to be a Christian.”

 

“it’s like I’m just now

getting the hang of what

it means to be a Christian.”

 

How could he say such a thing?

 

It would be like Michael Jordan. . .

after his 6th NBA championship saying:

 

“You know just today,

I’m figuring out how to play basketball.”

 

Or like Mozart. . .

after composing the

“Requiem Mass In D minor” saying:

 

“You know just today,

I’m figuring out how all these notes fit together.”

 

Fr. Matthew Kelty—

a now-deceased monk

from the Abbey of Gethsemane

said essentially the same thing

in his talks about the Eucharist.

 

Some Thursday evenings,

I would drive over to Gethsemane

and pray Compline with the monks

and then go hear Fr. Kelty

talk about the Eucharist.

 

He would always

start out by saying:

 

“I think I’m just now getting just a glimpse. . .

just a glimpse. . .

of what the Eucharist means.”

 

Isn’t that something!!!!

 

After all those years celebrating the Mass. . .

 

Just now. . .

Just now. . .

getting just a glimpse

of what the Eucharist means.

 

What’s going on with these two statements

by these dedicated people of God?

 

“it’s like I’m just now

getting the hang of what

it means to be a Christian.”

 

“I think I’m just now getting just a glimpse

of what the Eucharist means” . . .

 

Well, Brothers and Sisters in Christ

these two statements speak a basic truth about God. . . .

 

They speak to the infinite grandeur of God. . . .

 

They speak to how boundless God’s love is.

 

No matter how much we think we know about God. . .

 

No matter how much we’ve experienced God’s love. . .

or how much we’ve thought about God’s love.

 

That’s only the sliver of the beginning. . .

 

Because God and God’s love

keeps flowing and flowing and flowing. . .

 

there’s always more and more.

 

It’s like the horizon. . .

 

We get a glimpse of it. . .

And we swim for miles towards it. . .

Swimming in the great mystery of God. . .

 

And then we look up. . .

 

and the horizon is still there. . .

 

looking just as far as it always was.

 

Always more. . .

Always more.

 

My spiritual director gave me a

little bit of the back story

on what led him to declare:

 

“it’s like I’m just now

getting the hang of what

it means to be a Christian.”

 

Through the Providence of God—

God had put back into his life

someone that he had once

thought was “unlovable.”

 

I do not know what this person did to my director . . .

Or what he was like. . .

But this “unlovable” had been

out of sight and out of mind.

 

And all of sudden—

there he was—

face to face with immense dislike—

the reprehensible to him now unavoidable.

 

How would my spiritual director respond?

 

Well, after years of immersing himself in the Word . . .

 

After years of being in that intimate relationship—

Conversing with Jesus. . .

 

Learning more about and

experiencing the love of God. . . .

 

There was only one way to respond!

 

The natural human response of being loved. . .

is to love back.

 

So he reached out to the “unlovable” . . .

with the love of Jesus.

 

And in this situation,

he realized even more how much he was loved. . .

 

the experience was ever new. . . .

 

God’s love is new every day.

 

And the only way to respond was to love God back. . .

by loving another one of God’s beloved children.

 

You know,

As I look back on my life. . . .

and as I analyze the present. . .

 

I realize that in God’s Providence. . .

God is always putting me in situations and

around people where I can love more.

 

I bet if you look back at your past. . .

and analyze your present. . .

the same will be true for you.

 

God is always giving us the

opportunity to love more. . . .

 

People and circumstances coming together

is God’s invitation to respond to God’s love

with a greater love toward God and our neighbor.

 

“Which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

 

“You shall love the Lord, your God,

with all your heart,

with all your soul,

and with all your mind.

 

This is the greatest and the first commandment.

 

The second is like it:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Responding to love. . .

with love.

 

During these interesting and trying times. . . .

We have no idea what’s going on in peoples’ lives.

 

Maybe God is putting in our lives

as an invitation to grow in love. . .

 

to respond to God’s overflowing love

with a greater love on our part.

 

And the only way we can begin to do this

in a way worthy of the name Christian . . .

 

is to avail ourselves to ways

of experiencing God’s love.

 

So look around and count our blessings. . .

 

And plunge into the scriptures. . .

 

Ponder the incarnation. . .

 

Mull over the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. . . .

 

Engross ourselves into His Passion . . .

 

Submerge ourselves in Jesus’ love for humanity. . . .

and for us

 

And pray. . .

 

Pray long and pray often. . .

 

converse with God. . .

and hear Jesus’ voice tell you

how much you are loved.

 

And just try to wrap your head

around the love that is conveyed in the Eucharist!!!

 

And with all of that. . .

 

My spiritual director discovered that

the “unlovable” was not so unlovable at all.

 

He was merely responding to the love of God

that just keeps overflowing. . .

always more and more and more. . .

and always ever new.

 

Responding to that kind of love. . .

With love of God. . .

And with love of neighbor in a deeper way.

 

“it’s like I’m just now

getting the hang of what

it means to be a Christian.”

 

Holy Spirit 10/24-25/2020