CHIP IT AWAY

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            There is a story about a man who had a huge boulder in his front yard. He grew weary of this big, unattractive stone in the center of his lawn; so, he decided to take advantage of it and turn it into an object of art. He went to work on it with hammer and chisel, and chipped away at the huge boulder until it became a beautiful stone elephant. When he finished, it was gorgeous, breath-taking.

            A neighbor asked, “How did you ever carve such a marvelous likeness of an elephant?” The man replied, “I just chipped away everything that didn’t look like an elephant.”

            If you have anything in your life right now that doesn’t look like LOVE, then, with the help of God, chip it away! If you have anything in your life that does not look like mercy or compassion or kindness or generosity then, with the help of God, chip it away! If you have envy or jealousy or hatred or vengeance, or bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart, for God’s sake, for other people’s sake, and for your sake, get rid of it! If there is something in you that prevents you from loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and from loving your neighbor as yourself, then, with the grace of the Lord, do away with it! Be it materialism that prevents you from worshipping God alone, be it selfishness that prevents you from sharing yourself to others, be it indifference that prevents you from rendering loving service. Let God chip everything out of your life that does not look like love.

            Jesus, in today’s gospel, sums up the entire law in terms of LOVE: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

            We are reminded that our love for God must flow into love for neighbor; and our love for neighbor must flow back into love for God. These two loves are one and the same. They cannot be separated. We cannot love God truly except by loving our neighbor truly. And we cannot love our neighbor truly except by loving God truly. We can also put it this way: Our love for God must be humanized, and our love for neighbor must be divinized.

            According to John Powell, a Jesuit and a writer, “Before we can really give our heart, soul and mind to God, we must first know how much God has loved us…” Christian love is a response to God’s infinite love, and there can be no response until we have somehow perceived that God has first loved us, so much so that he sent his only-begotten Son to be our salvation.

            Our failure to realize and experience God’s love for us makes us incapable of loving our neighbor. On the other hand, our realization and experience of God’s love enables or empowers us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our awareness of God’s love and acceptance for us – accepting us with all our limitations and weaknesses – will empower us to love and accept others as well – accepting them for who they are. Our experience of God’s love and care for us – especially during times of hardship and suffering – will enable us to love and care for others – especially those who are in need. Our knowledge of God’s love and forgiveness – forgiving us and forgetting our sins – will give us the capacity to forgive others – seventy times seven times.

            Let us pray that we may be able to show our love for Godby a love of our fellow human beings shown in deeds. Ang pagmamahal natin sa Panginoong Diyos na hindi natin nakikita ay mapatutunayan lamang natin sa pagmamahal natin sa kapwa na nakikita natin at nakasasalamuha natin araw-araw. Our praying to God, whom we address “our Father in heaven,” should lead us to be with and present to our neighbor who is “down there” in the street of misery and poverty. Our saying “Your kingdom come, your will be done,” should lead us to work for the kingdom of God by building a better world that is penetrated by God’s goodness, truth, justice, peace and love. Our worshipping of God in the Mass and other liturgical celebrations should lead us to intervene and act on behalf of our neighbor who is hungry, homeless and deprived of basic necessities. Our reading of the Good News of God or the Bible should lead us to bring the Good News to our neighbor in concrete ways, in practical terms, in visible signs.

            In this Mass, let us pray for one another, that each of us may have a personal encounter with GOD as LOVE. And let our lives be a celebration of God’s love for us and a manifestation of God’s love for our sisters and brothers.     

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