Memorial of Saint Leo the Great
(Philemon 7-20, Luke 17: 20-25)
“I do not think it an overstatement to say that the purpose of life is to love whoever is around to be loved” (Kurt Vonnegut, Sirens of Titan, pg. 253). God is love and He made us in his image and likeness. God also makes the rain fall on the good and the bad alike. Being made in the image and likeness of God, we are to love always and to love everyone. Having been made in the image of the farmer who sows seed with abandon, we are to spread the love lavishly, not choosing who is to receive it. Saint Paul found great joy in all the good Philemon did. By conforming our hearts to the heart of Christ, we become sources of hope for those in need.
We can give love because we have received love from God. He has made us stewards of his loving kindness toward all we meet. We have been created in the image and likeness of our loving Father and we insult him whenever we are miserly in extending love and compassion toward others. The Beloved Son poured himself out for our salvation. Having been made in his image and likeness, we should pour ourselves out making his salvation known to the world. Everything we have is a gift from him, so what have we to lose? If we squander on others what he has squandered on us, we are only taking after our prodigal Father. He grants deliverance to captives. He breaks the chains of sin. He opens the eyes of the blind. He feeds with the bread of life those who hunger and thirst for salvation. He is the constant companion of the poor. He shows mercy to the lost. All the Father has done through the Son, He wants to continue doing through us. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Cor.4:6).
Through Baptism, we have been grafted to Christ. Because Christ lives in us, the Kingdom of God is among us. God has pitched his tent in our hearts and abides with us just as he abided with His only-begotten Son. Christ who is nearest to the Father’s heart desires to set our hearts ablaze with the Fire of Divine Love. Because of the glory shining on His face, we can radiate his light to the world. Because the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, the people who walk in the valley of darkness have seen a great light. When Christ stretched out his arms in the everlasting sign of love, the fire of divine love vanquished the realm of darkness and death forever.
“We are living at a time when humanity, connected as never before, appears much more divided than united… we continue to find ourselves on the brink of a delicate precipice and we do not want to fall… We appear to be witnessing a dramatic and childlike scenario: in the garden of humanity, instead of cultivating our surroundings, we are playing instead with fire, missiles and bombs, weapons that bring sorrow and death, covering our common home with ashes and hatred… let us open our hearts to our brothers and sisters; let us press forward on the journey towards greater knowledge and understanding of one another. Let us strengthen the bonds between us, without duplicity or fear, in the name of the Creator who has put us together in this world as guardians of our brothers and sisters. So that, together, we may be prophets of community, artisans of unity, and builders of peace” (Pope Francis in Bahrain).