Let it show!
If you pay attention to the Catholic websites, social media or press, it probably doesn’t take long for you to find a few mean-spirited comments about fellow Christians who hold different viewpoints than the writer’s or your own. Reading these articles and comments might lead us to believe that the proof of ‘real’ Christian discipleship is to be measured by the level of orthodoxy, obedience, liberalism or whatever measuring stick you like.
However, today’s gospel reminds us that the proof of discipleship is not how right we are but how loving we are. If we are to follow Jesus’ command to love one another as he has loved us, there can be no room in our language or in our hearts for meanness of spirit.
How then should we prepare ourselves to be witnesses for Christ when we encounter others who may disagree with us? Let us look at how Paul and Barnabas helped the earliest disciples. They encouraged the common practices of the faith, the focus on Christ, seeking His ways and will. They asked for the discernment of the Holy Spirit to encourage good faithful leaders. They prayed together and fasted together. Did this guarantee harmony and agreement? Not always! BUT it did prove to all that they were followers of Christ. The disciples would be known for their love for one another as Jesus said; ‘By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.’ (John 13:35)
To love one another is challenging but love requires action and some doing. The love Jesus speaks of is not tied up with emotions and warm feelings. Love for Jesus and we Christians is a ‘verb’, a ‘doing word’. This love requires action, practical action. It’s something others can see, others can hear, others can witness. This is the love that St Paul describes in his first letter to the Corinthians: ‘Love is patient, love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong-doing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’ (1Cor 13:4-7)
In this Mary’s wonderful month of May, lets us ask for her abiding graces to love her Son more in our words and deeds, that His love may shine in each of us and that we together may be known as His disciples, because it shows.
Fr David OLW