October 29, 2023 — 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our secularized culture, we all struggle with belief in God, at least to some degree. An atheist man named Robert Bridges once wrote to his friend, the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, asking how he could possibly learn to believe in God. Hopkins pithily responded: “Give alms.” Would that help someone tempted by atheism today, like you and me?
I think so, and here’s why. This week Jesus speaks of love for God and neighbor. These dual commands were nothing new when Jesus used them to sum up the Jewish law. What is new is the way he links them together in mutual dependency. In Jesus, God and man have become one. Human-love and God-love are now inseparably married forever.
The newness of the God-man means that there is now a permanently counter-intuitive way into the knowledge and love of God: love of our neighbor. To experience charity is to know God. That’s what Hopkins was getting at for his friend. How we treat our fellow human beings is inseparable from faith in God. Do you want to have a stronger sense of God’s loving presence and goodness? Commit to serving someone today and this week. Love him or her. Don’t wait for love for God to appear in your heart before loving others. Jesus has united divine and human love. If you want to believe more in God, give alms.
— Father John Muir ©LPi