WHY DO YOU DO THAT?
There is a big difference between “having to do” and “wanting to do” something. It is the difference between duty and desire. An example that comes to mind for me these days is the wearing of a face mask in public settings. I have to admit that I was not thrilled at first about the put-on-gear. The problem for me is that when I wear the mask my glasses steam up. One day when I was shopping in the produce department at Super-One I was in so much of a fog that I thought I was lost in London-town. One parishioner instructed me to pinch my nose before putting on my new apparel. A clerk in a shop advised me to rub my glasses with a bit of shaving cream. Needless to say I am still in a daze. So at first, wearing a mask was done simply out of duty; I had to follow the rules. Then I began to think about how important the mask was for public health - not just my own safety but also for the welfare of others. I came to have a sense of “wanting” to wear the mask solely out of concern for my brothers and sisters. That is how I feel right now and I carry confidently my new facial garment in my car at all times.
Today’s Gospel (see John 14:15-21) is part of Jesus’ Last Discourse to His followers. He calls us to be people of love and says in a challenging way, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” His teaching invites us to think about our motives for living our faith; are we Christians living out of mere “duty” or is it loving “desire”? Are we followers of the Lord from a sense of obligation or of opportunity? The choice reveals a great deal about our view of life and the choices we make.
I believe that some Catholics live their faith mainly from an observance of obligation. We keep commandments simply because we are taught to do so. For example, we may follow the instructions to not eat meat on Fridays during Lent. When asked why this is so we might respond, “I don’t know; I guess that is what Catholics are supposed to do.” We are disciples then because we were raised that way and so we do what is expected of us. Sometimes even fear can enter the spiritual picture. Some Christians follow Jesus’ commandments because they are so anxious about their eternal salvation. Years ago I visited an elderly woman in the hospital.
We talked about faith and I asked her why she was a Catholic. She said in so many words, “When I die I want to see St. Peter with a gate and not the devil with a pitchfork.” Valid reason to be sure. But obligation and fear can only go so far. There is a deeper reality involved in discipleship. We are called to live and share God’s eternal love and that choice is what guides us to true freedom and joy.
This brings us to a different motive for a living faith: opportunity. As baptized believers we bask in God’s grace and love. The Lord’s care and forgiveness, won for us by the Cross, brings true happiness and peace. Our response then must be one of love as well. Once we have experienced the endless amour of Christ we can return that gift freely to God and share it with others. It is because of our love for the Messiah that we keep His commandments. We live our faith not because we “have to” but because we “want to” each day. From that dedication to our Lord we then turn our focus towards one another. God’s commandments call us to love one another and we will actually desire to live that way when God’s liberating grace fills our own hearts and souls.
In the Scripture today Jesus tells us that we are not left as orphans in this world. His love reigns supreme and we find the true meaning of our existence by giving the best we can back to God and showing care to those around us – not out of obligation but in grasping the opportunity to dwell in the Lord’s mercy as one of His own. Choose carefully then to follow the Lord and His commandments. Make a return of that beautiful gift of Divine Love. Oh, and one other thing: please remember to wear your face mask at the grocery store.
May God keep you in His care.
A FEW REMINDERS FROM THE PARISH:
****As of now all services and activities are cancelled through Memorial Day. There will be no Memorial Day Mass at St. Francis Cemetery. When times are safe parish life will resume as usual.
****The church building will be open from 10 a.m. until Noon (Sunday through Friday) for personal reflection and prayer. Please keep proper social distancing in the church.
****The parish office continues to be open during normal working hours. You can call the office during these times and should you stop by the office you can conduct business through the intercom system.
****Times are difficult financially. Thanks to all who continue to support the parish. Donations can be mailed to the Church, placed in the mail slot at the parish office or put in the deposit box near the candle stand in the front of the church. You can also donate on-line (catholicdos.org) by using the “Today for Tomorrow” campaign.
****Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our deceased, Matthew Kutzler