Last week, when we celebrated our parish feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I talked about St. Bernadette. She is the little girl who met Our Lady in the Grotto in Lourdes in France. She received a message from Our Lady.
She proclaimed the message from Our Lady. St. Bernadette is the first preacher from Lourdes.
And all of us, in fact, each of us, is a preacher of the love of God from the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes. Each of us, claimed in the waters of baptism, has the call from God to share the love of God. We have Good News to share. We are preachers of God’s Good News.
And if we are going to be preachers of God’s Good News, then we are first hearers of God’s Good News. We cannot share what we do not have. We cannot repeat what we have not heard. We cannot proclaim what we have not received. We need to hear the Good News so that we can share the Good News.
So, where do we find this Good News of God’s love? We look to the scriptures. We look to the scriptures proclaimed to us and for us each Sunday. We look to the law and the prophets, the psalms and the letters, the Gospels and the Acts, to hear the Good News of God’s love for you and for me and for the world.
And yet, on this Sunday, the words of the scriptures given to us seem more like a burden. Be holy, for I am holy. You are a temple and you must not destroy the temple. Do not desire revenge. Love your enemies. Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. I hear these words and I simply want to respond, “I can’t. This is not possible for me.”
Where is the Good News? Where is the Good News of God’s love for you and for me and for the world? Holiness is beyond me. Preserving the temple is beyond me. Loving my enemies is beyond me. Perfection is beyond me. Where is the Good News when it all sounds like a burden?
Maybe there is another question to ask. Maybe we can look at these scriptures and ask another question and then we can find the Good News of God’s love for you and for me and for the world. What are the questions we will ask?
Who is the Holy One? Who built the temple? Who loves their enemies? Who is the one that is perfect? We need to look no further than the crucifix to see the answer. Jesus is the Holy One. Jesus builds the temple. Jesus loves his enemies. Jesus is the perfect one. Jesus is the one who is at work in my life and yours. It is the work of Jesus and not my work or yours that makes us holy. It is the work of Jesus to build and adorn and preserve the temple. It is the love of Jesus and not simply my love or your love that sees a brother or sister when we want to see an enemy. It is the perfect work of Jesus that makes us perfect as his heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus is the one who works to make us holy and perfect. It is his work and we are part of it. It is his work and we participate in it. It is his work and we cooperate with him. I cannot make me holy and I cannot make you holy. Jesus will make me holy and Jesus will make you holy. This is the Good News of God’s love for you and for me and for the world. It is Jesus who calls us and Jesus who forms us and Jesus who makes us a holy gift for his most Holy Father. Jesus is the one who works to make us holy and perfect.
And now Jesus invites us to his table. Here we are strengthened. Here we receive not only the Good News but the one who gives the Good News. Here Jesus Christ feeds us with his message and he feeds us with his Body and Blood and he sends us out to proclaim the Good News. Amen.