5th Sunday of Ordinary Time Reflection by Joanna Krynski

 “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”  -Jesus
“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” -Audrey Hepburn

Years before I was married, my parents were visited by a long-time friend who lived out of state. After dinner, the question of what made a marriage work came up in conversation. My parents’ friend had remarried, and after making a joke about only marrying  for love the first time around (the second time you marry for money), he stated that the foundation of a good marriage is for both people to do whatever they can to make the other person’s life easier.

Dear God, please guide me and my husband to love each other selflessly.

On May 1, my husband and I will celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. From the start of our romantic relationship, James treated me so well that I wanted to do the same for him. We continually have been inspired by the other’s kindness and loving actions, and respond in kind. We’ve joked that it’s as if we’re competing to see who could do more for the other. When we’ve both had hard days, we debate over who is allowed to make tea for the other that night. These tea “arguments” often end with each of us making our own cup of tea to avoid the guilt of allowing the other to serve us when we don’t feel we deserve it over them.

Help me to accept someone’s gift of service even when I don’t feel I deserve it.

In appreciation to God for her simple blessings that she values greatly, my grandmother, Babcia, will bring us a freezer full of homemade food, scrub our stovetop, fold our laundry, try to sneak money into my hand when my mother isn’t looking, and get upset when I don’t find more work for her to do. I feel awful allowing her to do chores when visiting us, asking her to please sit, relax, enjoy this time with my son. And she does, momentarily. But she soon is taken over by an urgency to leave behind these concrete signs of her love.

Help me to be moved to action out of gratitude for the love and blessings I’ve received.

As a parent, I now understand what it means to love unconditionally. As a parent of a toddler, I now understand how much effort it takes to maintain our relationships and responsibilities and how close a normally sane person can be to losing it. There are days where I feel I have given all that I have to give that day. And yet, I realize I haven’t looked beyond my living room.

On the days I feel I have nothing left to give, help me to offer goodwill to others through prayer.

Once as I walked home from the train, I noticed a woman up ahead pacing through her litter of grocery bags, begging to use the cell phone of anyone who passed by. I watched person after person ignore or reject her request, and I watched her become more frantic. I wondered if I should cross the street to avoid her chaos. A moment later, she was begging me to use my phone. I wondered if she would steal it. I wondered if she was trying to distract me so someone else could rob me. Or worse. I remember her hair looked just undone enough to make her seem potentially unhinged. I don’t remember our verbal exchange, but soon I had dialed the numbers she listed and I was speaking to a gruff, unhelpful voice who demanded to know why I was bothering him. I stammered in response and gave the woman my phone. And then I lingered awkwardly and waited and wondered if I had done something stupid.

And yet, in today’s Gospel, Jesus commands us to take the risk. To love one another without judgment. To reach out to the marginalized, not just to those easy to love. To be a servant to humanity. Because we are all equally a child of God, and should look at each other as if through God’s loving gaze.

Grant me the courage to show mercy and compassion to anyone who needs it.

In every act of charity, in every act of mercy, we encounter Jesus in ourselves and in whomever we serve. We encounter love and move one step closer to bringing the Kingdom of love to Earth.