Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 8, 2019)

Today’s Gospel reminds us that if we truly value being a disciple of Jesus, we must be single minded and focus only on those things that will lead us to love of God and love of neighbor. St. Francis de Sales notes that this may require us to reorient our loves:

A true lover has almost no pleasure aside from the loved object. Such is the case with our friendships that are good and excellent. They are wholly for God and in God. The love and friendship we have in God last eternally because they are grounded in a solid and permanent foundation of divine love.

In our desire to love God above all things, little by little we let go of all of our affections that are insignificant and worthless before God because they are not guaranteed to last eternally. Moreover, love of things and friendships that are not centered in God’s love lead us down an empty path. Yet, we cannot remain long deprived of every kind of affection. We must take up the affections fitting to the service of divine love. If we have divested our self of our old affection for parents, country, home, friends and things, we must now take on a completely new affection for them. Now our affections for them will no longer be self-serving but rather serve God’s glory.

The kingfisher builds a solid and tight nest in a way that allows it to remain on top of the waves of the sea. In its nest the bird is master of the sea. Similarly, even though transitory things surround your heart, always keep your heart above or superior to them, so that you may be master of them. Your heart must be open to heaven alone. Once we let go of all things for God’s love, we are free to practice virtue according to the will of God, who desires to transform our self-centered loves into divine love. Let us no longer love our dear friends, relations and things except in holy love and friendship that last eternally.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)