October 29, 2017
Love, summary of the Christian life.
On the way to visit a family member in the hospital I saw some old Catholic churches being renovated or rebuilt. It is so great since churches are more important for the people there than their own home. They may break their bank to help community build a place for their worship. They may be struggling to find food for their children, but volunteering at church to reduce the labour cost is a must. I attended Sunday Mass at different churches. The attendance always amazed me. One particular church in Ho Chi Minh City had 500 seats, but about 600 people came to each of 7masses during the weekend (Sat. 5 pm; Sun. 5:00; 6:30; 8:00; 9:30; 11: 00 am & 5 pm). They are so aware of the first commandment: to love and worship God with all their heart.
As I reached the hospital site, I would say a thousand people had been there who were either patients or visitors. That hospital was no bigger than our Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. Patients were everywhere, in the hallways, in waiting rooms, in emergency areas, etc. It was so crowded so that they put 2 single beds together for 3 or 4 patients. Each patient had one or 2 family members to care for them and they slept on the floor or under the beds during the night. By the lunch time, some people offered us free lunch box. They told me that they belong to a certain Catholic group who offered free breakfast, lunch and dinner to patients and their families. The administrators of the hospital allowed them to do it. They estimated about 10,000 free meals offered a day at different hospitals in town. I thought to myself, those people really know how to love their neighbour as themselves!
In my ministry, I often interview families who have children for Sacraments either Baptism, or First Communion, or First Reconciliation, or Confirmation, or Marriage. Part of conversations was:
“Are you a practicing Catholic?”
About 80% answered:
“Yes. I don’t go to church, but I keep God’s Commandments.”
“What do you mean that you don’t go to church but you keep God’s Commandments?”
“I don’t steal anything, I don’t kill anyone, I don’t commit adultery, I don’t bear false witnesses…”
“The religion is not only something we don’t do, but something we should do. What do you think about the word of Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and love your neighbour as yourselves.”
“Well, well… “
On the other hand, I also meet lots of people who go to the Eucharist (the Sacrament of Love) on Sunday and on most weekdays but do not care for anyone at all. It seems like there are only God and them and nobody else in the world. The two commandments of Jesus cannot be separated. When we love God and worship him, we draw strength from him to love our neighbour as ourselves. Do you remember the Last Judgment Scene in Matthew Gospel 25: 31-46? The King condemns the people on the left: “Get away from me, for I was hungry and you gave no food; I was thirsty and you gave no drinks; I was sick and in prison and you did not visit me…”