Thursday, October 08, 2009

Homily for St. Therese, October 1, 2009


Kill them with kindness that they might love God. If we were to reduce what we learn from today's readings and from the celebration of the life of St. Therese of Lisieux it would be exactly this: Kill them with kindness that they might love God.

In the first reading we witness the assembly of Israel after they have come back from exile. Ezra the high priest reads to the people the book of Deuteronomy, which promises them blessings if they are faithful to God and exile if they are not faithful to God. The people begin to weep for two reasons. They realize that they suffered exile because they were unfaithful to God. Thus, they weep over their sins. But also, they realize that the restoration of the temple and their being brought back to the land of Israel is an unmerited gift on God's part. So they also weep because of the greatness of God's mercy and love. God showed them kindness that they might come back to him.

In the gospel, Jesus sends out 72 disciples in pairs to announce the good news of God's favor. He asks them to be the very instruments of God's love by announcing God's peace to all so that everyone may hear of God's love and change their lives by believing in how great God's love is. Jesus wants the kindness of God to be announced by his disciples in word and deed.

One woman who understood that it is necessary to be a witness to God's love for others was St. Therese of Lisieux. Knowing that she didn't have any extra-ordinary gifts, she sought to make God loved by others through her own simple and everyday acts of kindness. Living her short life as a cloistered Carmelite nun, she would be a witness to God through smiling at her sisters, talking to the dull and difficult sisters at recreation, joyfully accepting whatever food was put in front of her, and not reacting to small annoyances. She wished to kill her sisters with kindness so that they might love God.

Here at mass we will come face to face with the love of God poured out for us in Jesus Christ, in his passion and resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Renewed with a sense of gratitude for God's great love, let us resolve this day to be witnesses to God's love, announcing His kingdom of peace, in and through little things done with love. It could be something as simple as greeting someone, or wishing someone who seems down that they have a good day, or talking to the person who seems isolated. Whatever it may be, let us do these things as a witness to God's great love for us, which we then share with others, hoping that they too, having been killed with kindness, may in turn come to love God.

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