Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost

„Bear one another’s burdens, and so you shall fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2) When something is heavy for one person to carry, two persons can carry it together more easily: not only physical burdens, but everything that weighs us down, makes us sad. By carrying such burdens with and for another person, we show that we wish well for the person we help, we love them.

“Bear one another’s burdens” can also mean taking a burden that someone else has upon ourselves, even without doing anything that anyone can see, silently, inwardly bearing with them, being patient with other persons’ faults.

Or that we pray for someone suffering under the burden of sickness or an unpleasant situation they have gotten themselves into.

“So you shall fulfill the law of Christ”. Love, or charity, is the love of Christ, because Christ gives us the fullness of the holy Spirit, which is the spirit of charity, because Christ taught this love, saying “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another” (John 13:35), and because he himself loved us, and showed that love by bearing our sins on the cross.

“Bear one another’s burdens” is a precept and counsel that extends to all, but in an ordered manner. Paul writes, further, “So let us do good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal 6:10). With the parable of the good Samaritan Christ teaches that our love is not to be restricted to a particular group of men, but that we are to love all men as our neighbors, as they are also made in the image of God and loved by God. And again, “ Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. If we love only those who love you, what good does that do you etc.?” (Mat 5:44,46) However, we learn to love all men, who God created, by loving those whom he placed close to us: ourselves, our family, and the family of God, the Church. And when we love enemies, we love them so as to, in principle, desire to be joined in friendship with them. We can’t do that unless we love friends.

This is not selfish, because we don’t love them or do good for them only because they love us or do good things for us, but because they are united with us in God, in the shared faith and with a common goal, eternal life in Christ. And so that same love extends, in principle, though not with the same intensity, to all those for whom we wish that they might know Jesus Christ and attain eternal life.

Let us pray for that love, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit, the mark of Christ’s disciples, a sign of the divine origin of the Church, and the root of eternal life in us.

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