Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Pete Iorio
October 31, 2021 - 11:00 AM
Isn’t it exciting and heartwarming and beautiful to welcome a new baby into the world? How special for us here in this faith community to be part of this new baby’s baptism. The love of Sergio and Josie brought Benedict into the world. Their love of God brings him to this church and to the waters of the baptismal font.
Benedict’s life, his very being is love enfleshed. Josie and Sergio love him concretely by giving him the care that he needs especially those things that he cannot do for himself. A newborn requires attentive love at times and in circumstances when they are not used to giving it. For example: In the middle of the night. Without an adequate amount of sleep. Changing diapers is a new skill for them. Love motivates them to concretely care for their son.
Jesus linked love of God whom we cannot see with love of neighbor whom we can see. It’s easy to consider ourselves as loving people if we only look at one side of things, namely, how we relate to those people who are loving, warm, respectful, and gracious towards us. If we rate ourselves on how we feel about ourselves in our best moments among like-minded friends, we can easily conclude both that we are loving persons and that we are measuring up to Jesus’ command to love.
But if we begin to look at the skeletons in our relational closets our naive confidence soon disappears: What about the people who hate us, whom we don’t like? What about the people whom we avoid and who avoid us? What about those people towards whom we feel resentment? What about all those people with whom we are at odds, towards whom we feel suspicion, coldness, anger? What about those people whom we haven’t been able to forgive?
It’s one thing to love someone who adores you like a newborn baby, it’s quite another to love someone who hates you!
But that’s the real test. Love does require something from us. It costs us… Inconvenience, sleep deprivation, learning new skills like swaddling and diaper changing. God’s love for us knows no bounds. Our retreat master this week for our priest retreat said that the love of Christ is transformative. Our desire should be to become more like God who loves everyone because each human being is our neighbor and who loves us to the extreme by dying on the cross for us.
The option of immersion for the ritual of baptism best symbolizes the paschal mystery …our dying by going down into the water underneath the tomb and then coming up out of the water symbolizes resurrection. We will not do that with Benedict; however, the pouring of baptismal water is his participation in this mystery of love. Our retreat master said that when we choose to love concretely and go out of ourselves, there is a dying. To our selfishness, to our ego, to our being comfortable. And the Paschal mystery continues because we trust him and hope in God’s action which is resurrection… Giving us new life through a joy and peace inside us, or a changed relationship on the part of the other or on our part.
Our retreat master gave us examples of how to put love into practice. Something might be for those who are feeling frustrated because they want to just come here, go to mass, get communion and leave. The baptism adds an extra bit of time. So the invitation is to ask the Holy Spirit to choose love and even though you do not know the family, you can love your neighbor as yourself by thinking of yourself as a godparent.
So on behalf of all of us here present, I say thank you to Sergio and Josie and especially to Benedict for teaching us about the two great commandments of love that Jesus gave us. I invite you now to the baptismal font to celebrate this mystery of God’s love.