28th Sunday in Ordinary Time reflection by Martina Ricca

“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him...”  After reflecting over this Sunday’s readings, this verse struck me more and more each time.  We know that the Bible’s details are intentional and precise.  The story told to us is written exactly how we are to hear it.  It is no coincidence that Mark remembers this encounter this way.  Jesus first saw this man.  He looked at him with eyes of grace, patience, mercy, and compassion.  Jesus loved this man.  He loved him in his humility, in his confusion, and even in his reluctance.  Then, Jesus spoke to him.  He taught him through a challenge.  This does not go to say that our faith is a string of hoops and obstacles that we must conquer in order to inherit eternal life.  Quite the opposite.  Our faith presents us with a challenge to encounter the Truth that is the loving God.  The Truth that we receive him every Sunday in the sacrament at the altar.  The Truth that we are called to love and be loved by Love himself.    

I attended a wedding recently, and it was so clear how Christ’s love for us manifests in the ways that we love others.  When the priest was giving his homily, each time he presented a challenge to the couple, the groom looked at his bride with such admiration.  Such honest love, and much conviction to accept the challenges the priest was presenting.  That look of love, how beautiful to witness.  The look of love is an invitation. 

Reflecting on that within my own heart, I was reminded of my own inhibitions.  Of the restrictions I place on myself when it comes to receiving the love that Christ has for me.  These restrictions don’t only come in the form of not receiving love, but they are expressed in ways that I do not love others.  They are present in the ways I ignore the phone when it’s ringing and wait for the follow-up “Text me when you have a minute” text.  It’s when I get frustrated with someone for not helping me with the dishes even though I never asked them to.  It happens when I lose patience with someone for asking clarifying questions.  In those moments, I do not see the other person.  I do not love that person.  I see myself.  I see my comfort as more important than theirs.  I see my spot in heaven as more promised than theirs - a fruitless effort.  You can apply this thinking to countless situations in your life.  Maybe it is when you are annoyed that someone asked that one question that ended up making the meeting go 10 minutes longer.  It could be when your child, student, spouse, sibling, or parent interrupts you when you’re speaking with them.  It could even be when you act out of what you “should” do, rather than acting because you want to serve another.  The invitation to love is an invitation to have the disposition of your heart be oriented towards others.  Love is an outward expression of an inward calling. 

My challenge for you, as well as for myself, is to seek to see people first.  See them as they come to you and take the extra five seconds to assess their wants and needs before your own.  It is in that surrender that we experience a fuller love for each other.  That is where we reflect the love the Father has for each of us.  Those moments are the moments we more fully receive Christ through others, and more wholly get to understand His love for us.  He sees you.  He loves you.  He says to you...

“From the fear of what love demands, deliver me, Jesus.”