Humanity was created to aspire towards greatness at every level. Indeed, being created in the image and likeness of God has by nature the gift of Eternal Life as its ultimate destiny and the desire to possess a heart that is truly at Peace when savouring what Heaven and the divine Life freely and generously offers.
Today the Apostle Paul exhorts us to aspire to the greatest of virtues: never be satisfied with banality, with what is taken for granted. Whoever desires that which is truly good is naturally open to receive the gift: of Charity! The gift of Love!
The dramatic experiences of the pandemic that has assailed us these past two years and the many disappointments or wounds that often reach into our lives may have, to some extent, had the effect of extinguishing our spiritual desires and enthusiasm. However, we cannot and must not give in to cynicism. Saint Paul, who had experienced many adversities, tells us that, in the end, there are three things that remain steadfast: Faith, Hope and Charity (Love). They are the three theological virtues, the three gifts that put us in a direct and close relationship with God Himself. Only what nourishes and brings to fulfillment our relationship with the Lord is truly worthy of our God created humanity, deserves all our passion and the application of all our energies.
Today may be the right occasion to ask ourselves: in my life, even when I experience the deprivation of many things (physical and psychological energy and strength, goods and properties, and affections), what remains to fill me with joy, is it really Faith, Hope and Charity? Are these the precious pearls that I cherish with passion?
If, sometimes, we feel sadness reaching into our hearts, perhaps it is because we have lost or have not taken care of the essentials of our faith in Jesus! Desolation and despair can sound like an alarm bell that urgently calls us to take care of our personal relationship with the Lord, so that He may fill us with joy, with His tender, comforting and abiding Presence.
It could also happen to us, as it did to the fellow citizens of Jesus, in the synagogue of Nazareth, an urge to want to throw Jesus out of our house, as it were, out of our lives, thinking that we can do without Him, assuming that we know what is best for us. Every time that life puts us to the test with its alternating vicissitudes, we hear the same invitation addressed to us that Jeremiah heard at the beginning of his prophetic ministry: “Do not be frightened in front of them!” and then we may repeat with the psalmist: “I have taken refuge in You, I will never be disappointed!”
Those who truly trust in the Lord and in His fidelity (faith) do not fear tomorrow and have a heart open to what life may bring (hope), they cherish a mature desire and a firm decision to imitate Him in every single daily gesture we make towards others (charity) (Love) for as Pope Francis reminds us in Fratelli Tutti: “God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters”.
Let us allow ourselves to be loved by God, welcoming Him in faith and the strength of His love, for this will surely propel us towards loving all our brothers and sisters and enable us to make our life a gift of love, waiting for the blessed hope to be fulfilled: to enjoy eternally the most amazing vision of the Blessed Trinity.
* Custody of the Holy Land
Fr. Luke Gregory ofm*