Love’s Unquestioning Duty

I peer through the curtains of the morning to gaze upon the unwelcome day, then choosing to welcome it in the name of Christ, befriending the unknown that awaits my love. One by unexpected one they arrive by grace.

“You have been trusted to look after something precious; guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:14)

A friend has been looking after her ailing father for the past few years and I have seen how exhausted and frayed she becomes, wondering at times where can she find the strength to keep going. But she finds it, she does all that needs to be done. It is her a God-given duty, the duty of her love for him and there is no question of not doing it. It is love’s unquestioning duty and it doesn’t always feel like love.

It’s what Jesus talks about in the Gospel, “when you have done all that you have been told to do, say, “we are merely servants, we have done no more than our duty.” (Luke 17:10) It is our duty to be servants of each other’s need, a loving duty that lays down its life in service of each other.

Those we care for are the “something precious” that St. Paul speaks of, those whom we are called upon to guard with the help of the Holy Spirit.

I see it all the time here in the parish. Parents bringing their children here to Mass, carrying them in the Offertory Procession, guarding them through all of life. I see how precious is the child in the womb to an expectant couple, how both mother and father are somehow transformed by the reality of pregnancy; how through all the difficulties of pregnancy a woman perseveres in the loving duty of motherhood and there is no question of her giving up. And sometimes, sadly, the preciousness of the child in the womb is only realized when it is lost. The expectant mother is for me one of the most powerful symbols of what life in all its aspects means at its very core – our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual life.

I see a little sister caring for her brother, I see teenagers being attentive to their grandparents, husbands and wives looking after each other through the challenges of getting old. There are many, many examples among us of this loving duty that does not give up, that keeps going against the odds and these are sure signs of God among us.

Through all and contained in all of these there is something else precious that has been given us to guard and protect and that is our Catholic Christian faith; it is the person of Jesus Christ whose life in us we are called to guard with the help of the Holy Spirit, in the duty of love that does not give up. Jesus is precious in Himself and most precious of all whose life within us can be compared to the life of the child in the womb, to be tenderly, carefully minded so that it can grow to maturity within us until we are ourselves are fully matured. Only in Him is the fullness of maturity achieved and it is a lifelong process that we do well not to give up on, but to wait and wait and wait for it to unfold.

“If it comes slowly, wait, for come it will without fail.” (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

Lord, teach me to see others – every precious single person – as you see them, to understand them as you understand them, to love them as you love them. Teach me to see precious Earth and all that it contains as you see it, to love it as you love it, to guard it according to your plan. Teach me to see the past as you see it, understand it as you understand it and in your mercy that I may be healed of the hurts I have experienced, and be forgiven for the hurts that I have caused, that the past may be redeemed. Teach me to see the future as you see it, without fear or anxiety, to move towards it with hope and trust in you. Amen!