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Kevin ClarkeMay 07, 2024
Photo by Caleb Jones, courtesy of Unsplash.

A Reflection for the Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle

You can find today’s readings here.

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. (Jn 15:12)

Sometimes I don’t recognize the Christianity my fellow American Christians bandy about. American culture has a bad habit: turning and twisting the words and parables and aphorisms spoken by Jesus to create all sorts of shaky spiritual structures that, in the end, appear ready to justify, well, just about anything. Jesus can be pro-gun or support defense spending. Jesus is against immigration and for your prosperity above your brother’s. And don’t even get me started on whatever smoky brew of scriptural misunderstanding results in Christian nationalism.

It seems to me that if you have to dig deep into Scripture to find the correct fragment to justify a belief you are building or struggle for novel interpretations of some otherwise straightforward text (I’m looking at you, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”), it’s a good sign that you are heading down the wrong path.

Jesus left some bread crumbs in the Gospels that cut this faith of ours down to the basics. Every so often, one or two sentences stand out that perfectly distill what this Christian life we say we are committed to is all about.

You’ll find one of those breadcrumbs, those scriptural keystones, in today’s Gospel: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”

Even if you somehow forget the rest of the Gospels, if you are able to retain a fragment like that and make it real in your life, you probably can’t go too wrong. Lead with love and cultivate a compassionate heart.

That might mean treating that blustering MAGA-hatted neighbor or the ceaselessly woke college student in your life with equal patience, kindness and desire for understanding and relationship. It will mean keeping mercy at the forefront of all you do so that you approach both offender and victim with the same open heart.

This is the task we have set for ourselves. It is not an easy one, but if we do it to the best of our imperfect abilities, it has the power to change the world. Word on the street is they will know us by this love of ours.

More: Scripture

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