May 9 Reflections

Let’s face facts: the internet has given editorial cartoons a re- prieve from extinction, able to withstand the decline of newspapers as a major source of information for most people these days. Depending on the viewpoint the cartoons espouse, many of them are clever enough to draw either a chuckle or a curse.

Our beloved Church has been the subject of cartoons throughout
history, most of them caustic because Christianity itself is often the opposition to popular opinion. So the Church may appear as a purveyor of guilt or a stickler for rules. Outside ob- servers cannot be blamed for their conclusions if that is all they know. the only contact with an authentic be- liever can erase their misconceptions.

This weekend’s Mass readings present a truly positive picture. The gospel displays this truth as we read how Jesus Himself, our “Founder,” pours out His heart. For good reason, it is a “Sacred Heart,” and through the author’s presentation, you and I get to “overhear” Him. As Jesus speaks to His intimates, He not only details His love, but also how future followers like us can best respond to it.
Most of us know from lived experience how much suffering is involved when the loved one does not respond in kind, but instead offers nothing more than a cold response. It stings. It stabs our hearts more roughly than a spear.

Jesus knew from His entry to our nature that this happens, because it happened to Him. Yet He was able to muster from His depths the piercing cry from His cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In this section of Scripture, note how Jesus says to His disciples, and to us, that He has chosen us. No other qualifications were given for the choice, the least of which would be our worthiness.
In a culture rife with anti-Christian postures and policies, where even the name of Jesus is “canceled,” to use the current language, I believe each of us knows in our heart what to do about it. Yes, we can march in protest, write letters or post a note on “Facebook” or tweet on “Twitter,” all of which can be good in them- selves. But those are not everybody’s “cup of tea.”

There is another way, a quietly offered counterbalance to the chaos and craziness around us, which anybody can do. It’s our good example.

Consider this: In 1871, Sir Henry Stanley journeyed to Africa, where he encountered the missionary Dr. David Livingstone (d.1873) and subsequently spent a few months in his company. Livingstone never spoke to Stanley about spiritual things, but Stanley observed the old man throughout those months.

Livingstone’s habits were beyond his comprehension, and so was his patience. He could not under- stand Livingstone’s love for the African people. For the sake of Christ and His gospel, the missionary doctor was patient, untiring, and eager. Stanley wrote, “When I saw the unwearied patience, the unflagging zeal, those enlightened sons of Africa, I became a Christian at his side, though he never spoke to me about it.”

God love you, and give you His peace!