Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Those who are just must be kind.”  That is what our first reading tells us this afternoon.  We are created in the image and likeness of God and we are called to imitate God in our daily lives: we are called to be channels of God’s love to others.  God is love, and we are called to love.  God is merciful and we are commanded to be merciful.  In the Psalm today, we hear that God is abounding in kindness.  Kindness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  The fruits are those things which are produced in us by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence within our souls.

We also have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and work to cultivate those fruits in our lives.  Our Lord has said that Christians should be different from non-Christians: they ought to be recognized by their love.  You and I are to show God’s love to those that we encounter.  Our first obligation is to love God, but the second command Our Lord tells us is like the first: we are to love our neighbor.

Love of neighbor can manifest itself in many different ways.  We are not called to like everyone; we are not called to have a close relationship with everyone.  There are likely certain personalities which we find more agreeable and those which we find more challenging: yet, whether we like someone or not, we are called to love our neighbor.  Who is our neighbor?  Everyone we come in contact with is our neighbor.  Our Lord calls us even to love those whom we might consider enemies: those who have hurt us.  We can stand up for what is just, of course, yet we must always do so with charity in our hearts.

One of the ways in which we express our love for others is by treating them with kindness.  We may not always feel like treating someone with kindness.  True charity is not necessarily connected with warm, fuzzy emotions.  We can feel irritated with someone and continue to act kindly toward them.  That might sound like hypocrisy at first, but all virtue is exercised in the face of opposition.  The truly brave person, for example, does not act bravely because they do not feel fear: the brave person feels fear but acts courageously despite the fear that they feel.  We do not have to act on every feeling that we experience: in fact it would be bad if we did.  When someone annoys us but we continue to treat them with patience and kindness we are acting, not hypocritically, but with true charity.

It is true, at times we are called to correct others.  We cannot judge hearts, but we can know a tree by its fruit: and when we a brother or sister in the Lord falling into sin, it is charitable to call them to repentance.  Yet even in correcting others, we must keep charity and kindness in our speech and in our actions.  We are called to love others and one of the ways that we show love to others is how we treat them: trying to keep charity in our actions and in our speech is a little way that we can imitate God and allow His love to flow through us in the world.

Let us do all that we can to allow God’s light to shine through our lives.  May we bear witness to the love of God in our speech, in our actions and in our lives.  Lord Jesus Christ, help us to imitate You in all that we do.  Give us the grace that we need, Lord, to keep charity with others so that they may see You at work in our lives.  Help us to follow You ever more faithfully in all that we do.  Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like Yours.  Amen.

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