Today we witness the tragedy and consequence of human selfishness. We witness the tragedy and consequence of human cowardice. We witness the tragedy and consequences of poor leadership. But most of all, we are confronted with the truth of human weakness and sin, and a God that loves us to death in spite of it. Make no mistake, God became one of us and freely died both because of us and for us. That’s amazing love.
In this love story, I want to point out three examples by which I think we should live. 1. Give and don’t count the cost. 2. Love everyone greatly, and 3. Be bold and courageous.
In the house of Simon the leper a woman came with an incredibly expensive jar of perfumed oil. Can you imagine a bottle of cologne or a bottle of perfume that was worth your total salary for a year? Without a second thought, she broke it and lavishly poured it upon our Lord–not for a second counting the cost. A fraction of this sort of generosity is still scoffed at in our day. 10% of your wages for the Church! The Bishop’s Ministry Appeal? The Turlock Pregnancy and Health Center? Too often in this life we are no better than Judas and the others who scoff at generosity to the Lord and to His missions. Too often we hold tightly and want to keep for ourselves what we should offer to the work of the Lord in our midst. Lesson 1: Give and don’t count the cost. She did a good thing for Him, and so can we by serving our brothers and sisters in need, and financially supports those that do.
Lesson 2. Love everyone greatly. Jesus chose twelve disciples–one who he knew very well would betray him someday. He chose to teach and to love Judas in spite of his many flaws and failings. And eventually, in Judas’ weakness he betrayed our Lord, but still Jesus loved him. I think sometimes we seek only to surround ourselves with people of good moral character, of good standing, with members of the church, Bible study groups, and fraternal organizations. I call this the Christian huddle. It’s warm, it’s comfortable, and there is little risk of betrayal there. But Jesus loved everyone, even at personal risk. He saw the good in sinners. He loved others in spite of their weaknesses. If we only spend time with good, like minded people, how will our world ever become a better place? We are called to be lights in a world of darkness. Lesson 2: Love everyone greatly, both saints and sinners alike. You could be hurt. You might be betrayed, but in doing so, you walk in the footsteps of the Lord.
Finally, Lesson 3. Be bold. Be courageous. Peter said to the Lord, “Even though all should have their faith shaken, mine will not be.” Jesus says, “You will deny me three times by morning.” Peter says, “I’ll go to my death for you! I will not deny you.” But he did. And we do too. If your Lenten journey has been anything like mine, I started like Peter and ended up the same way. I love Peter’s enthusiasm for the Lord. This is the same courageousness to which God calls us.
It’s an attitude that says, “I’ll go to my death for you!” But like Peter, we will stumble and fall. Sometimes our fear will get the best of us. We will sometimes crumble because of human weakness and sin. But get back up, dust yourself off, and be courageous and be bold. Say, “I may have failed last time, but I won’t fail again.” Peter proved himself weak at our Lord’s Passion, unable to stand the test, but as we know, he returned, led the Church, and went to his death boldly proclaiming salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. His courageousness did not come overnight or all at once, but even in his weakness he was courageous and bold. The Lord rewards perseverance. Lesson 3. Be courageous. Be bold.
God took on human flesh. God became one of us. Vatican II documents Joy and Hope reads, “He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart, he loved.” He gave us each an example to follow. So, give and don’t count the cost–be generous in supporting missions, ministries, and our Bishop. Love everyone greatly–even sinners, backsliders, the helpless, and the hopeless. And always be bold and courageous. We will fall and we will fail, but if we are faithful, we will rise to new life with him.