It seems to be all turned upside down!
This may be one of the reactions we make on first hearing the Word of God this Sunday.
What’s the point of loving your enemies? May I never expose myself to ridicule and humiliation! Why should I do things that show me to be weak, indeed that make me appear foolish, senseless in the eyes of the world?
Once again we are called to change our perspective in order to understand reality and the meaning of things. On the eve of Lent we are placed before the true dynamics of conversion: changing our way of thinking; assuming God’s gaze and thought about things, about life.
So let us listen carefully to the Word and we will discover that it is Jesus Himself who reveals to us the profound reason for an “illogical and foolish” lifestyle according to a worldly mentality: “that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven”. We must be Children who love, who yearn for holiness. This is made clear to us at the very centre of the Pope’s encyclical Fratelli Tutti, for he tells us: there is a call to love, to become saints, to recognise Christ Himself “in each of our abandoned or excluded brothers and sisters”.
“Our love for others, for who they are, moves us to seek the best for their lives”. This is the true and sure path to becoming saints ourselves.
Yes indeed, our Father is in heaven, but this does not mean that He is distant and disembodied, that He does not feel the sufferings and humiliations of His beloved children, no! Indeed not; rather, He reveals and manifests to us “His point of view”.
He has before Him a broader horizon, not restricted and asphyxiated; free from blinding obstacles, not a prisoner of wounded passion, pride and resentment.
From the heavens He knows the truth of everyone and everything and can penetrate the innermost depths of our hearts. There is a great desire, a pressing appeal that runs through all the Scripture and the whole fascinating story of God’s friendship with humanity: “Be holy . . . be children of Your heavenly Father”.
Today, we are invited to become our true selves, completing the work that the Lord has begun within us. We have everything at our disposal: everything is yours, the Apostle tells us. We can use everything; dispose of everything, even ourselves, but constantly remembering who we belong to. For we truly belong to Christ.
We belong to Him! (Psalm 100:3). It is the amazed and grateful exclamation of the psalmist, of every contemplative, of every true believer.
Blessed and holy is the one who is separated, set apart to be made a part of that holiness: and in fact in the centre of holiness there is above all a gesture of love and predilection from God, from a heavenly and loving Father who wants to communicate the fullness of His life to His most beloved and cherished Son.
Becoming saints means welcoming God’s love and grace, letting them act within us, shaping our thoughts and our choices, making our life similar to His. Indeed, letting His life literally flow into ours.
Becoming saints is the fruit of joyful and conscious adherence to the Lord’s work in us.
Everything can be ours, but if we live this opportunity freely and generously given to us with an attitude of despotic and arbitrary possession, this puts us in conflict with reality, with others and even with ourselves.
Remembering that we belong to Christ helps us to understand the traits of a liberating belonging, which does not reduce us to slavery, but directs us towards the true good: being of God, being His children, that is, sharing in His very nature. In a word, being saints.
Knowing that we are of, in and with Christ, He is able to shape the relationship we make using all that is ours, all that He gave us.
Knowing that Christ is the Son of God the Father gives us the liberating certainty that our destiny has eternal prospects.
So in the end, it is truly wonderful that everything seems to be turned upside down: we were crushed by our miseries, by our passions, by sin; now we are raised up and to divine glorious beauty, to live in the freedom as children of the same heavenly Father, to the sanctity and bliss of true and everlasting love.
*Custody of the Holy Land
By Fr Luke Gregory ofm