My dear brothers and sisters,1
As I was saying, our readings today call our attention to our duty to love. We heard the beautiful words of St. Paul in the second reading:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
God himself, in the communion of the most Holy Trinity, is love. We know that. And he creates us out of love, and he creates us for love. This is the beautiful reality of our lives — we are made to love and to be loved. To give love and to receive it.
Christian love is also a responsibility, it is part of our vocation as disciples of Jesus Christ.
And we all have people in our lives — in our families, at work or at school, in our neighborhoods. And we are responsible for those people. We need to treat them as we want to be treated, with dignity and charity. But my brothers and sisters, love requires something more.
Love means we need to be concerned for their souls, for their salvation. So, maybe that’s our first reflection this morning. As we reflect on our relationships with the people in our lives. Are we trying to help them get to heaven? Are we trying to help them grow in holiness and love?
And I’ve been thinking that if there’s something that we have learned during these times of the pandemic, is that we need to keep growing closer to the people in our lives, to strengthen our bonds of mutual friendship and love.
We need one another. No one of us can make it through the journey of life alone. So that means obviously that we need to take care of one another. We need to pay attention to the needs of the people around us — I’m sure that we’re doing it but it’s important today as we reflect on the love of God for us, also to reflect on how we should love one another. Not just in their material needs, but also in their spiritual needs.
But then as we hear today in the Gospel and in the First Reading of today’s Mass, love also includes helping people when we see that they are going in the wrong direction or doing things that are not right or good for them.
In the passage of the Gospel, our Lord talks about the situation where someone sins against us. And he shows us, in a very practical way, how we should respond.
If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
Love always seeks what is best for the other person. And the best thing for all of us — is to be right with God and to be right with the people around us.
Yes it is always hard to tell people when they are doing something wrong, but this is an important duty of Christian love.
And I’ve been reflecting on how the best “word” we can offer to others is always our good example. If we want to bring others to Jesus, then we need to bring Jesus to others. And we do that best — not only by talking about Jesus but even more by living the way Jesus teaches us to live.
So when we correct somebody, we have to first give a good example, but also always be aware of our own faults and limitations. We need to remember that we are sinners, too. In fact, we have to be ready to accept correction from someone else. That’s a part of love, too.
So love unites us to God and to one another. So, one of the most beautiful acts of love we can make is to pray together.
Jesus tells us today: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”
That’s not just a nice saying or a beautiful idea! It’s a promise that Jesus makes to his disciples. When we pray together, as we are doing this morning in the celebration of the Eucharist, in this Holy Mass, Jesus is with us. God is with us. But he is also there, always, when we pray in our families, when we pray with our friends, when we just stop and pray — talk to God, listen to God, personally.
So this week, as we continue to go about our daily lives, let us ask for the grace to grow in love for the people in our lives. Let’s try to be more attentive to one another. And let’s try to find a little more time to pray.
And if we can, especially, to pray together.
If you are a husband and wife, maybe just try to pray a “Hail Mary” once a day for your children. Try to say a prayer at night or in the morning with your children, as a family. Again, just something simple to bring Jesus into your home.
So let us especially ask Mary our Blessed Mother for her intercession. And ask her to help us to become people of prayer. And to help those around us to really give importance to prayer, too — become, all of us, people of prayer.
Finally, tomorrow is Labor Day, so let’s ask Mary for her intercession — that our society might respect the dignity of work and the rights of workers. And we can trust especially in the intercession of our Blessed Mother, our Lady of the Angels, we just celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Let’s go to her especially asking for her intercession during this challenging time — that we continue to love another and especially also look for the time to pray every day.
1. Readings: Ezek. 33:7-9; Ps. 95:1-2, 6-9; Rom. 13:8-10; Matt. 18:15-20.