In the Gospel this evening we have a guiding principal summed up in one word: Love. The greatest of human realities are often summed up in the smallest of words. Little words mean a lot; for example, war, hate envy, joy, etc. Love is not the easiest commandment, because love always demands a response. In the emotional side of our human nature there are two basic tendencies: a tendency to be loved and a tendency to love. People tend to see the problem of love as being loved rather than being a loving person. Hence all their efforts go into making themselves loveable through being successful, or glamorous or powerful or rich. How many likes did we get on Facebook for our post? We feel loved when we have so many followers on Instagram and Twitter. And so they end up without love, for they are loved not for themselves but for something they possess or that they have achieved. Where as if they became loving people, they would be loved, and loved for themselves. Love brings out the best in the one who loves. People are at their best and brightest when they love. Love is a choice, not a feeling. But to refuse to love is to begin to die. The greatest enemy of love is indifference and egoism.
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess “We must do something about Grandfather,” said the son. I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor. So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?” Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work. The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled. Children are remarkably perceptive. Their eyes ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds ever process the messages they absorb. If they see us patiently provide a happy home atmosphere for family members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives. The wise parent realizes that every day the building blocks are being laid for the child’s future. Let’s be wise builders and role models.