I know a sure path to heaven: to be grateful to God for all things big and small, to appreciate who you are in His love and what a gift you could be for others for the love of Jesus.
Paul VI once wrote that ‘if you want peace, work for justice.’
There is so much violence in our world and on all levels of life. What can we do to begin building a world for peace?
We need to work justly among our friends and enemies. We should begin by looking at what we ourselves. Gossip is, in the scripture, related to murder. Word violence against people ravishes their humanity, even unknowingly. Traffic violence is another way to increase injustice in the world. Making people suffer because we are anxious or afraid. Our bad mood is not someone else’s fault.
As citizens, we can also work for justice by being considerate of one another. Tolerance has become a misunderstood word. It is not silent opposition to other thoughts or opinions. Being tolerant calls us to dialogue openly in charity so we can reach God, the source of all Truth, together.
As citizens, we have a lot of violence to talk about, euthanasia, birth control, abortion, pre-emptive war, embryonic cloning, so much to talk about. But we will never be able to achieve true peace on earth if we just sit here and agree with each other about how to achieve it. We must get up, go out and actually do things differently than we did them yesterday.
We are obligated as Catholics to work in nonviolent ways for justice that begins to establish an authentic peace for ourselves and for our children. Charity, prayer, sacraments, forgiveness, compassion, these are tools for justice, the fruit of which is genuine peace.
Peace be with you!
The Gospel clarifies for us that the Christian way is of action not mere words; of performance, not mere promise. The rich man does not understand that because the Word was made flesh he is now obliged not to just say he believes but to live like he believes.
When we proclaim the Cross of Jesus as the sign that we are His followers, we accept in obedience, His Will as a path to conformation. “He must increase, I must decrease.”
Today the Gospel confronts us with forgiveness. But how can we accept forgiveness or even forgive others unless we first are able to receive it, to actually hear the words: “I absolve you from your sins, in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; unless we hear “your sins are forgiven, go in peace?”
Jesus articulates the full dimension of His love by applying it to our own practice of forgiveness. Whenever we forgive from the heart we build a bridge on our way to heaven.
Each of us are sinners. The only way we can truly live God’s Will is to actually forgive those who sin against us. It sounds so easy and yet we find it so difficult because of our lack of faith.
The wisdom writer asks a question long on the human mind, “Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?” We can spend our whole life pondering God but unless we pick up our plough and labor in the Lord’s vineyard, we will achieve nothing of significance.
Teresa of Calcutta, suffered for 50 years, believing that God had abandoned her, yet she gave the world a way to hope and be joyful in giving. John Neumann left his native Bavaria because no one needed his priestly service, he traveled from New York, to Buffalo, through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and back to Baltimore on horseback so people could hear Mass. Teresa and John labored heroically to give the world the dignity and respect all human beings deserve and the Sacraments they so richly seek.
Two elder monks were sitting outside their cave when a student approached them. He asked how could he overcome his fear about what people think of him.
The one elder said, when I was young, I worried about what people would think of me. It was my pride and lack of wisdom that fed my fears. I kept telling myself I don’t care what people think of me.
The other elder said, it is true when I was young my use of humility was weak, but as I got older I realized no one ever thought of me. So I stopped worrying about it.
The question we need to ask ourselves is what keeps me from being myself? What makes me think the mask is better than the reality?
There is a story of a very successful woman who was about to die. She quickly wrote out a will and contributed most of her wealth to the Church and to charities.
When she got to heaven, an angel escorted her pass wonderful mansions and great houses, down expansive boulevards and dignified avenues. She noticed of course that she was passing these places. Finally, they turned down a very small alley and came upon a little cottage. The angel opened the door, and with a smile said welcome madam, we have prepared a place for you.
The woman was filled with indignation, counted the many millions she had left in her will to lists of charities and to the Church. The angel smiled and said but we have built this house on the gifts you have given God through your life.
There was a cartoon years ago called ‘Calvin and Hobbes,’ about a precocious little boy, Calvin and his playmate, a talking tiger. One day the Hobbes, the tiger, finds Calvin sitting under a sign that reads, ‘kick in the butt for one dollar.’
Hobbes asks, “How’s business?” Calvin replies, ‘Awful! And I don’t know why, because so many people need a good kick in the butt!’ Jesus finds Himself in a similar situation then and now. Spiritual Sloth can creep up on us every slowing and very powerfully.
John Paul II, in his work, Love and Responsibility, said, “The fact is that attaining or realizing a higher value demands a greater effort of will. So, in order to spare ourselves the effort, to excuse our failure to obtain this value, we minimize its significance, deny it the respect which it deserves, even see it as in some way evil, even though objectivity requires us to recognize that it is good. Resentment possesses as you see the distinctive characteristics of the cardinal sin called sloth. St Thomas defines sloth (acedia) as ‘a sadness arising from the fact that the good is difficult’.”