(30th Ordinary Sunday: Exodus 22:20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40)
No one could ever accuse St. Paul of flattery. So, when he writes to the Thessalonians, “You became a model for all the believers,” he must mean what he says.
How different from the words of the Beautiful Lady! Her people, far from being held up as a model, have earned a completely opposite reputation, which might be called spiritual laziness. After her Apparition, however, a certain number of people, Maximin’s father among them, resolved to restore her good opinion, so to speak.
Reputation is important. None of us likes to be ridiculed, insulted or made to look less than what we think we ought to be. We all would prefer to be known for the good we do than for our faults.
Paul tells the Thessalonians that other Christian communities have heard “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Thus they observed the Greatest Commandment.
But they observed the Command to love their neighbor as well. They were known for their missionary zeal: “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth.”
La Salette Missionaries, Sisters and Laity have a reputation, among other things, for a welcoming spirit and a desire to promote reconciliation. As individuals we sometimes fall short, but we can hope that it might be said of us that our love for God spills out into love of our neighbor.
We must maintain a certain balance, especially when our faith might be unwelcome in the foreign land that is our modern secular society. It is then that the witness of our Christian way of life most matters.
This includes Paul’s famous list of fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” We might also add the witness of Mary at La Salette: her tears and unceasing prayer, in response to sin and suffering.
In this way we hope to live in peace with all. May our reputation at least arouse curiosity in others, and draw them to the One who draws us.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.