2 Corinthians 8:1-9
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Good News Reflection:
In today’s first reading, St. Paul describes what happens when a church community truly works together as a community of love, where people enthusiastically volunteer to help, and where the need for assistance is recognized and people cheerfully pitch in to get the work done — not because they ought to, but because they’re so in love with God that they want to do it as a gift for him. Love for God becomes love that floods outward to everyone.
This is what Jesus means in our Gospel reading, when he says, “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” He’s not telling us to be perfectionists. He’s not saying that it’s bad to make mistakes. Every time you see the word “perfect” in scripture, think “fullness of love.” We’re perfected into the likeness of our God-Daddy whenever we love others so fully that we eagerly serve his kingdom with our talents and resources.
Every director of a ministry and every pastor of a parish knows how rare it is to find people with this kind of enthusiasm. At Good News Ministries, we are blessed to have several enthusiastic volunteers who collaborate with our enthusiastic staff. For this team, I thank and praise God! (See gnm.org/about-team/. To join our team, visit gnm.org/about-join/)
How much do you love God? What kind of worker are you in his kingdom? Do you have the same joy and enthusiasm that the Christians of Macedonia had? Neither Paul nor any parish leader had to pressure them to get involved. Rather, the parishioners begged — insistently — for the favor of serving the Church. Wow!
Do you understand that the people who seek volunteers in your parish are doing you a favor by asking for your gifts and talents? And your time? “Oh-ho! Not with my busy schedule and all the demands coming at me from other directions,” we say. Well then, we still don’t realize how blessed we are to serve God. We’re serving a different god or two or three gods who don’t appreciate our efforts nearly as much as the true God does.
When we reach true Christian maturity, we’re unhappy at the sight of an unmet need, and we’re even more unhappy if we can fill that need but don’t know how to get involved. Here’s a thought: Have you ever begged the pastor to let you donate more money? What would happen if you said, “Father, I didn’t put enough in the collection basket last Sunday. May I stop by and drop off a check?”
Splattttt. That’s the sound of Father fainting.
If you want to have more fun in your parish community, call the director of any ministry that appeals to you, and say, “What can I do to make your job easier? I’m not going to be happy until you give me some volunteer work to do.” There might be some stammering or speechlessness at first, but be patient. The director will recover.
And God will smile at you and say, “THAAAAANK you!”
Lord: May Your justice take root deep in my heart, so my attitude towards those who do not love me will reveal a spiritual difference. May it be a testimony of Your love and of what You expect from a true child of Yours. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica