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Humility, love, and kindness

 

The gospel readings Aug. 14 may have made us uncomfortable, with Jesus telling us He came not to bring peace, but division. Following Him, being a true disciple, sets us apart -- perhaps even from our nearest and dearest.

If we were uncomfortable with those thoughts, we can’t be any more comfortable with the passage from this past Sunday, also from St. Luke’s gospel.

If we’re not careful, if we fail to pay close attention, and follow the narrow path the Lord invites us to take, we will be left knocking at the door, but refused entry.

It won’t be because we don’t know the way. It will be because we don’t follow Him with our whole hearts, minds, and souls. Those who pay lip service, who play the part of a Christ-follower without the complete love for God and neighbor He asks of us, will not hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter ... and share in your master’s joy” (Matt. 25:23).

If we’ve been hollowly performing good works, or doing right only for show, our arrival at heaven’s gate won’t be met with a warm welcome or an embrace from the Lord.

We’ll hear, “‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’” (Luke 13:27).

Our lessons in love and humility continue this Sunday with more from St. Luke (chapter 14).

Don’t seek prominence and honor, Jesus says. Be humble, serve the lowliest, and honor those who cannot return your kindness.

We have been blessed with great examples of those who have followed this path set out by Christ, from St. Francis of Assisi to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Saints show us we can stretch beyond what we think we’re capable of, beyond self. They may seem like superheroes, beyond our capacity. But I read somewhere once that saints are just people -- like us -- in the messy process of becoming holy.

They gain this status one step, one act of love, at a time.

How do we do this?

According to Blessed Teresa, it starts as simply as this:

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

 
 
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