Ah how we love that passage about love that was our 2nd Reading today, (1 Cor 12:31-13:13) but how easily we forget that love, caring for others, may not always feel nice for us or for them! The surgeon does not want to hurt his patient, but despite modern anaesthetics, the after effects are still painful, and healing can be slow and difficult. The parents who insist that their offspring learn how to use a vacuum cleaner may not be welcomed at the time, but in the end a valuable lesson is learned.
Remember too that real love also requires us to say hard things and to be prepared to hear hard truths said about us. I am always saddened when I hear of people in positions of authority, politicians or priests, who think that they should be above criticism, and resent it when someone points out their mistakes. We see Jeremiah doing this in our 1st reading today. (Jeremiah 1:4-5. 17-19) He was prepared to attack the highest in the land, when he thought they were doing wrong, even though he clearly knew that doing so would not give him an easy life. Love, the love of God for his people, was what impelled him and also gave him the strength to say what had to be said. So we hear God encouraging him with the words “Do not be dismayed at their presence, or in their presence I will make you dismayed” and we see Jesus in the same situation as he challenges his own people in our Gospel (Luke 4:21-30)
I know of pregnant women who have challenged doctors who have told them after a scan, that the baby will be deformed and they must have “a termination”. I have heard many stories where the woman bravely refused to have this done, and the baby was born perfect. Here is another hard message of love that should be heard by more people. To live with the uncertainty of what your unborn baby will be like is an agony for many women, even when the scan has not shown up possible problems. But when a doctor (and doctors are gods are they not?) tells you something, going against such advice requires immense bravery, and some just do not have that strength.
Yes, speaking up for what is right is another example of love at work, and it is often a hard thing to do, even when the people you share it with are your friends and neighbours. Our Confirmation Group all knew last Wednesday, and I hope you know this too, is that one of the things we have to do as members of the Church is to face the hard task of sharing our faith with others. This is rarely easy is it? To say the right thing at the right time when we fear we may be misunderstood is so so difficult
But some of the difficulties of sharing the faith are simply the practical problems of reaching the people who need to hear it. This week a young man called Paddy was dying at home, and I had no difficulty in getting to him when the Macmillan nurse phoned. I was able to jump in my car and be with the family in 20 minutes. But there are many parts of the world where that simply cannot happen, because without some kind of transport, walking to another village in the parish would not take hours, but days.
Having enough money to buy some kind of vehicle to take the priest, or the sister or some other lay worker to every part of a large parish in Africa or Asia or South America is often quite impossible for the parish concerned, but there is a charity here in the UK that specialises in doing just that. It is called Survive-MIVA. MIVA stands for Missionary Vehicle Association and this is a charity founded and run by ordinary Catholics like you in Liverpool to buy appropriate vehicles for poor parishes all over the world.
Recent purchases include : –
A 350ccMotor bike for a Parish in Andra Pradesh in India £1500.
A 4 wheel drive van for the Immaculate Heart Clinic & Maternity Hospital in Kogi State, Nigeria. £19,300
36 bicycles for the Catechists of a Parish in Uganda A Parish made up of eighteen outstations, each with a Catechist and Eucharistic Minister, and with a total Christian population of 23,000. £2700
An aluminium dinghy and 25hp engine for a Parish in Tokelau, an Island in the Pacific Ocean. £2800
There are lots more like that. This is one of my favourite Catholic charities. Please support them See www.survive-miva.org/