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One day I went to Sears. They had something I wanted, and I had something they wanted. I needed a snow blower, and they needed my money. The salesman came up and said, “Can I help you?” When he found out that I wanted a snow blower and not a pair of men’s black socks, he got really excited. He said, “This is a great time to get a snow blower because our best model just went on sale. In addition to the sale, it has a five-year warranty. We will come to your house to fix it. Just call our service department. Plus, it has an easy-start button. You do not have to pull the chain to get it started.” I said, “I’ll buy it.” We walked together to the checkout. On our way, he told me a joke about customers buying snowblowers out of season which I was doing. I laughed. Then I told him a joke about trying to buy a snow blower at Home Depot, and he laughed. In the end, we shook hands. He even gave me a pat on the back. I liked this guy because he gave me a good deal. He liked me because I was an easy sell. He was a nice guy and all, but I do not call it love, I call it shopping.
When I do something nice to someone, and that person does something nice to me, God does not call that love. He calls it shopping.
Apparently, in Corinth, the Christians were doing a lot of shopping, so Paul wrote them a letter to clarify to them how to love. He gives a list of characteristics that one needs to have in order to love. If you notice it is a very hard-to-do list.
My confrere had a few guys visit him from the St. Louis area. They are really nice. The last time they were in town they invited me out to eat with them, and it was the best meal I ever had. When I saw them this weekend, I asked them how they were handling the Super Bowl. The Rams used to play for St. Louis before they betrayed them, and the last time the Rams were in the Super Bowl, the Patriots defeated them. They said to me, “It is hard; It is really hard to feel the love.” Yet, Paul says that if you have love, you will not brood over your own injuries, and you will not rejoice at the failure of others.
Take patience. How many of us are experts? I went to a wedding rehearsal at one of the parishes in the diocese, and the couple asked me right away for some chairs for the musicians. So I went to the sacristy, and there was an elderly priest. I said, “I am sorry to bother you, but could I borrow a few chairs for the musicians.” “No,” he retorted.” Tell them to use the pews.” I said, “Well it is a cello, and it is hard to play a cello in a pew.” It took me some time, but I got the chairs. We began to rehearse, and I told everyone to be seated for the readings. There were no seats for the couple I said to the priest, “I am really sorry to bother you again but do you think I can have two more chairs for the bride and groom?” “Tell them,” he said, “to kneel.” It took me a while, but I did get the chairs. Then the readers wanted to know if they could have a copy of the readings to practice at home. Back in the sacristy. The hardest part about this request was not getting permission us the copier but to inform the older priest that there was no toner.
The next day was the wedding. The bride was an hour late. Apparently, the limo driver got stuck in a parade. It would have been longer, but the bride got out of the limbo, walked down the street in her wedding dress, and took a cab. When she arrived at the church, she thought I would be mad. I was actually delighted she got there when she did. After the wedding, I was the sacristy, and the priest came over to me and said, “That was a beautiful wedding. You did a wonderful job.” I said, “Thank you.” Then he said, “I want to apologize for being a bit cranky yesterday I am getting to old for all this running around.” I said, “Yes, sometimes it is too much.” Then he apologized for the late wedding.” I assured him it was not an issue. Then he said this, “You are the most patient man I have ever met in my entire life.”
Here is my point. Paul’s list is hard; it is very hard. Patience is hard, not brooding over our injuries is hard. We can go along in life and never feel the love. But if we can own this list, we will never (never) have a bad day again. A late wedding will never ruin our day. We will win new friends among are the most hardened and cantankerous people. And best of all, we will never have to go shopping to feel the love. It will always be there.Back to All Homilies