Summary: Just as charity covers or eradicates an infinity of sin, so infinite sadness is cured by Christ’s infinite love.
Thursday of 1st Week in Course 2017
Joy of the Gospel
“No one dared to ask Him any questions.” I am a teacher on summer break. It’s quite a transition every year for teachers to move into June. We have to have time off, or we’ll burn out prematurely. But we also have to sharpen our pencils, hone our skills. It’s too easy to turn to the lecture when we don’t have good ideas about how to share concepts and skills. And lectures are, frankly, boring to the bone. Jesus lectured, but His lectures, His teachings are not boring. As originally delivered, they were probably very Socratic. He lays out an idea or exhortation, and His disciples reflect on it and ask questions. It’s a good way to keep people engaged with an issue.
Here, Jesus is asked a question about observance of the Law. The rabbis would focus on the minutiae of the Law–how many steps one could take on the Sabbath, for instance. Jesus, however, always brought His listeners back to the Big Ideas, the Principal Truths. Here we see the greatest Truth. You want to know the Core of the Law? Then love God above everything else and love your neighbor as yourself. That says it all. The Jew Tobias got it. They put him to bed with his new wife and left the room, but instead of just, as the young say, “doing it,” they got up to pray. It was the real act of love. And instead of waking up dead, Tobias woke up married.
If we share this message, this simple message, by our lives and words, people will be attracted to the Gospel. The Holy Father knows this, knows the power of Christ’s transforming love: ‘The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known? If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts. We need to implore his grace daily, asking him to open our cold hearts and shake up our lukewarm and superficial existence. Standing before him with open hearts, letting him look at us, we see that gaze of love which Nathaniel glimpsed on the day when Jesus said to him: “I saw you under the fig tree” (Jn 1:48). How good it is to stand before a crucifix, or on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament, and simply to be in his presence! How much good it does us when he once more touches our lives and impels us to share his new life! What then happens is that “we speak of what we have seen and heard” (1 Jn 1:3). The best incentive for sharing the Gospel comes from contemplating it with love, lingering over its pages and reading it with the heart. If we approach it in this way, its beauty will amaze and constantly excite us. But if this is to come about, we need to recover a contemplative spirit which can help us to realize ever anew that we have been entrusted with a treasure which makes us more human and helps us to lead a new life. There is nothing more precious which we can give to others.
‘Jesus’ whole life, his way of dealing with the poor, his actions, his integrity, his simple daily acts of generosity, and finally his complete self-giving, is precious and reveals the mystery of his divine life. Whenever we encounter this anew, we become convinced that it is exactly what others need, even though they may not recognize it: “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23). Sometimes we lose our enthusiasm for mission because we forget that the Gospel responds to our deepest needs, since we were created for what the Gospel offers us: friendship with Jesus and love of our brothers and sisters. If we succeed in expressing adequately and with beauty the essential content of the Gospel, surely this message will speak to the deepest yearnings of people’s hearts: “The missionary is convinced that, through the working of the Spirit, there already exists in individuals and peoples an expectation, even if an unconscious one, of knowing the truth about God, about man, and about how we are to be set free from sin and death. The missionary’s enthusiasm in proclaiming Christ comes from the conviction that he is responding to that expectation”. Enthusiasm for evangelization is based on this conviction. We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love.’
That’s a great thought. Just as charity covers or eradicates an infinity of sin, so infinite sadness is cured by Christ’s infinite love.