The Sunday Mass & Sermon – February 28, AD 2021 – at Bethany House…
*** Father Todd delivers the Sunday Mass Packets (including worship bulletins, DVD, and Holy Communion) on Tuesday mornings. If you can’t attend Mass and live in the Montgomery County area (as well as Clark, Powell, Menifee, Rowan, Morgan, and Bath Counties) and would like to receive the Weekly Mass Packet, please call or text him at 859-404-8374. God bless you! ***
Here’s the video from Sunday Mass – The Second Sunday in Lent – with the sermon printed below. To view the complete Mass, just hit “play”! If you would like to view Father Todd’s sermon only, go to the 32:25 minute mark…
In the Name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Love – real love – is a tricky business. It’s completely intangible, but keenly felt. It’s full of meaning, but very often forgotten and neglected. It’s labeled by most as a feeling, but it’s really an action.
Love is something we learn by example. Love is most definitely a verb – not a noun. And at the core of real love is the word commitment – commitment to the person for whom our love is expressed. There’s a grittiness about real love. It doesn’t walk away. It doesn’t quit when the going gets tough. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)
Love realizes the absolute need for a commitment that goes well beyond words – words are cheap and often mean nothing. Real love gives when it’s difficult to do so. Real love knows this truth: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV)
This week, in “The Purpose Driven Life”, we’re going to hear an ever-increasing call to love God, to love his Church, and to love each other. In fact, we’re going to hear the call to seek each other out and to create and protect God-centered relationships. And, yes, we live in a kind of world that desperately needs such relationships – such love.
So here are the questions Pastor Rick is asking us to ask ourselves this week: 1. How can I start treating other believers like members of my own family? 2. Are relationships my first priority? How can I ensure that they are? 3. Does my level of involvement in my local Church demonstrate that I love and am committed to God’s family? 4. What one step can I take today to connect with another believer at a more genuine, heart-to-heart level? 5. How can I help cultivate today the characteristics of real community in my small group and my Church? 6. Who do I need to restore a broken relationship with today? And, 7. What am I personally doing to protect unity in my Church family right now?
So, if love is a verb, then God is calling us to action. And if he’s calling us to action, it’s because he has a goal in mind. Sometimes that goal is specific – like the questions he’s using Pastor Rick to ask us this week. The goal of those questions is to help us “connect the dots” in our daily living. But sometimes the goal is more general – like the goal God has in mind for us this morning. Part of the reason we’re here is to read from sacred Scripture – to hear it in such a way that we see the “big picture” of loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Since God is supplying us with the means of “connecting the dots”, it really shouldn’t surprise that he’s also giving us the “big picture”. If God’s asking us to engage each other with his love, he’ll certainly help us understand why it’s important to him. But here’s the problem: We are – each and every one of us, each and every human being – dabblers by nature. We either want to spend all our time looking at the “big picture” (so we don’t have to get too involved with the people around us) or we want to entirely focus on the “people only” (so we don’t have to discipline our living and thinking and believing).
Either way, dabblers don’t make good lovers. To love – to make a commitment to act – requires much more than dabbling. When Jesus reveals that he must go to the cross and die, the dabbling nature of the disciples is made clear. Up to that point Jesus’ focus has been on teaching and healing and feeding the people. And these are good things – they’re some of the very specific ministries each of us is called to. But when Jesus speaks of the “big picture” – of the cross and sacrificial love – the disciples get nervous. Why?
Were the disciples in a ministry rut? Had they gotten comfortable – maybe too comfortable? Did they like what they were seeing and just wanted it to continue? Had they gotten to the place of “don’t fix what isn’t broken” – at least, according to their way of thinking?
Here’s the thing to remember: The motivating factor for love is as important as the actual expression of love. If the love we’re acting on is God’s love, then it always has to go where he leads, when he leads, how he leads. We always have to remember that “we love because he first loved us.”
Peter, and the others, had forgotten that. Peter obviously loved all the good things that were happening. He obviously loved what Jesus was doing and didn’t want to see it destroyed. But he was blind and deaf to God’s leading. Jesus had to wake him up. Jesus had to remind him that ministering to the people is completely dependent on listening to God. If we attempt to love people without loving God we become something other than Christians. If we attempt to love God without loving the people around us we again become something other than Christians.
If we fail to simultaneously love God and love people, we will fail to deny ourselves and to take up our cross. And there’s a really good reason – a very practical reason – why God links those things together: Not only are we dabblers by nature, we’re also prideful by nature. Self-sacrifice – even suffering, when we’re called to it – is the greatest expression of love toward God and for the people around us. Jesus is the God who came to earth, who humbled himself to become human, who suffered for us, and who died on the cross. Jesus’ ministry and death teach us nothing if we fail to understand his call to sacrificial love.
Maybe, like me, you’re thinking right now that you’re not terribly interested in making room in your life for new relationships. Maybe, like me, you’re thinking right now that you definitely don’t want to take the first step in restoring a broken relationship. Maybe, like me, you’re thinking right now that you’ve got enough going on and don’t need to add another ministry to your plate. If so, that’s a sure sign of dabbling – it’s a sure sign that we’re missing the whole point of love.
I pray this week’s journey in “The Purpose Driven Life” will open my heart more than it’s ever been opened. I pray the combination of asking myself the micro questions while remembering the call of Jesus to take up my cross will make the critical difference for me. I pray it will be the moment I finally step forward in a significant way. And I pray that for you.