4 November 2018 – Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

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    Group of People Holding Cross and Praying in Back Lit


The biggest choice

I didn’t know my Grandmother, but my brother in law found her Funeral Notice online. Well it was a complete listing of who was in the choir, her priest son (my uncle) got full title as was the expression of sympathy from his bishop also read out. Without being unkind to the Ireland of 1957- it all came across as trying to make an impression.

Maybe we’re not so different- just a little more subtle in how we approach making an impression and trying to get notice. Rule keeping that was so beloved of the Scribes and Pharisees of the time of Jesus is certainly not in vogue currently, but we have found other delights to distract us.

They tell of a newly cemented foot-path being unveiled in a small town. Cement takes time to “cure” or dry and come the day when the Mayor and all unveiled it to reveal it had the unmistakeable tiny footprints of a barefoot toddling baby. It’s still there seemingly and never fails to lift people’s hearts. It gives people hope to continue.

Consciously or no we all MUST leave our mark in life, footprints in a way but this time the mark is left on a different organ – the heart. A single loving act can grow forever in the heart of the other. Jesus did not separate the two commandments- he joined them. We have an immense power over each other for good or ill. Just as a single loving act can grow forever as a “footprint” in the heart of the other- similarly a single act of arrogance can crush an already, embittered soul. The choice is ours for the “taking”- or should I say for the “giving.” A tender word of understanding and compassion may be your legacy or you could be remembered for a thoughtless gesture of indifference.

At funerals we all chat and make tea and remember the encounters we had with the deceased, in order, to capture something of their personality. What words would you write over your headstone? What words really matter? Surely the answer is “How much did this person love?” Love is a fire- and fire must be harnessed before its’ powerful potential can do good. Where to begin in this great endeavour? Like all things the answer is local. For it is sometimes easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbour in particular.