Loving from the Center

Matthew 9:1-9, Romans 12:6-21

In his letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul wrote at length about discerning our spiritual gifts and finding the ministry God has for our life. In today's Epistle, Saint Paul is telling the believers at Rome that every situation in which we find ourselves can be an occasion for ministry, a "vocation of the moment" given by God as a chance to bless others by instant obedience in that situation.

Centuries ago, a Christian monk once wrote, "There is a special grace corresponding to each minute of my life, if that minute is offered to God." Saint Paul counsels us to keep our eyes open and be alert for those everyday moments that cross our path, ready to consecrate those moments to the Lord's service when we see an opportunity.

We are all sons and daughters of the same Creator, siblings in the same family of man. In our society today it is so very easy to become disconnected. And it is so easy today in America to find ourselves cut off by circumstance from the familiar structure of family, community or church.

For many people, missing one paycheck can spell the difference between coming home to an apartment, and having to move from one friend's couch to the next every night or two. Others may feel disconnected ... empty ... no matter where they live — whether they are a resident in a poorhouse or a penthouse.

In Romans, Saint Paul seems to be calling us to be open and creative. Perhaps you don't have a big, comfortable home you can open up to guests; perhaps your budget won't allow you to buy lunch for every hungry person who crosses your path. Yet, perhaps you have the kind of open spirit it takes to make friends with those our society tells us are nobodies. Perhaps you have a few quarters to buy them a soda and the time to tell them they are truly somebody to God. Perhaps you’re even brave enough to tell them they are somebody to you.

Living in such a selfless way has to come from the heart, and it has to be real.

A contemporary Christian writer calls it "loving from the center of who we are." Saint Paul calls it making our lives an acceptable offering to God...

Laughing with those who are happy...

Crying with those who are hurting...

Never paying back evil when someone throws evil at us...

Not worrying what others will think if they see us spending time with an outsider.

In our Gospel reading from Saint Matthew, we see that Jesus and His disciples often sat down to dinner with society’s outcasts, not caring what others might think. The verse following today’s reading says, "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and ‘sinners’ came and ate with Him and His disciples." (Vs. 10)

Sometimes it's easier to befriend a stranger than be close with those we know. It’s harder when the ‘outcast’ is someone from our office, school or church, or right across the dinner table at home. Yet Paul seems to be saying we're to always be loving and caring with our friends, our family, even our enemies. To make it work, we have to stay connected to God...

Depending on Him for the courage to reach out...

The strength to hold on when the going gets really tough...

And the faith to believe He is there with us, helping us...

And He always will be!

How different would our lives be if we actually followed such a pattern of living? — on the outside, connecting with the people around us, giving them an honest, open smile and looking for ways to do good for them; on the inside, staying connected with Jesus, silently in conversation with Him about what He wants for the person He has just put in front of our face.

Do you think we could? Could we live wholeheartedly for Christ — for that is what we would be doing — for one hour tomorrow — or perhaps even today — looking into the eyes of those we meet and wanting only the very best for them, silently asking Jesus to reveal why He brought them into our path? If we can live wholeheartedly for Christ for an hour, do we have the courage to try it for a whole day?




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