As we meditate on the readings for this fourth Sunday in ordinary time, we learn something about our human dimension. We learn what truly makes our humanity better. We also learn what can weaken our humanity and make it, therefore, less pleasing to others. What makes us better human beings according to St. Paul is love. And on the opposite side, what weakens our humanity is the lack of love. It is fair then to ask what love is.
Love does awaken in us a set of good feelings and thoughts; however, love is not reduced to the realm of emotions. It is a precious gift from God. John the Apostle reminds us that God loved us first. St. Paul teaches that love makes us patient, kind and humble. It increases in us the capacity of selfgiving and sacrifice for others. As every gift coming from God, we need to ask for it and be open to receive it. When love fills our human nature, it makes us more docile to listen to God's divine commandments and moves us to seek the truth.
In today's Gospel of John, there is an example of people lacking the gift of love. As Jesus spoke in the synagogue, and as many were amazed by his preaching, there were some who allowed their lack of love to bring them to speak negatively about Jesus. "Isn't this the son of Joseph?" Jesus' teachings did not touch their hearts. On the contrary, they spoke out of unkindness and selfishness.
Brothers and sisters, St. Paul invites us to be open to the experience of love, first and above all with God, to love Him with all our being, and to give the best of us to Him. Second, St. Paul invites us to be open to the experience of love with each other. The gift of love makes life more meaningful. May our words and actions be always motivated by the gift of love. God bless St. Patrick's Church.
On January 22nd, the Church invited all of us to a day of prayer for the legal protection of unborn children. As part of that day of prayer, many pilgrims traveled to Washington D.C. for the March for Life. I have had the opportunity to go to the March for Life three times, twice as a seminarian and once as a priest. That event not only enriched my spiritual life, but helped me to minister as a priest to those who seek forgiveness after realizing the great evil that abortion is. We hope to gradually see the fruits from this annual day of prayer and sacrifice.
We pray and hope that with the March for Life, the prayers and the sacrifices of all good people, we will be able to awaken a new conscience in society at large. We hope that this new conscience will put to rest the evil of abortion. It is hard for us to understand that society thinks of abortion as a right. In what way can something which harms human life be a human right? And that is precisely why we concentrate our prayers and efforts to fight and eradicate this evil.
We hope to build a new conscience in which human life will be seen as a gift from God, the Creator, and we humans as recipients and stewards of that gift. We hope to create a new conscience in which every human being clearly understands the respect and responsibility he/she has with every human life. We hope to create a new conscience in which we all care and protect the suffering human life, the forgotten human life, the abandoned human life, the conceived human life.
Finally, we give a special thanks and words of gratitude for those who represented St. Patrick Parish at the March for Life in Washington last week. God bless you for your sacrifice and prayers on behalf of the unborn.
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Father Lopez is Pastor of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle, IL.