This Sunday our second Reading takes us to a small Church community in Thessalonica in Greece. We know that St Paul used this large port city as a gate to Greece and in fact to the whole of Europe. It was the gate for evangelizing the Old Continent. However the Apostle didn’t have much time in the city. After three weeks he was expelled from it. Though he was forced to leave the city he left in it a Christian community. The fragile community became well known in the country. In today’s passage we read: “It was with joy of the Holy Spirit that you took to the Gospel, in spite of the great opposition all round you. This made you the great example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread… for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere.”
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! We could ask ourselves how much the Catholic communities we belong to are a great example to the people of Australia. Are we the communities from which the word of the Lord spreads? Are we the fertile soil where the word of the Lord falls and produces the abundant harvest as we hear it in the parable about the sower? Spreading faith is not a kind of advertising, nor is it the duty of one evangelisation expert. Spreading faith is in our Catholic DNA. The desire to tell the Good News and to show it in our own way of living as the Church indicates the liveliness of our faith.
As we receive this Word of God from the Second Reading, which the Christians of Thessalonica received first two millennia ago, let us embrace it as the word of the Lord who wants to announce his Good News to the world by faith, hope and charity lived in our local Catholic communities.
It is a desire of our Blessed Lord so that our brothers and sisters who haven’t given their lives to him yet could hear his Good News from us and to see it lived in our communities. The answer Jesus gave to the Pharisee from today’s Gospel reading is a consolation for us. Jesus said to the Pharisee, and to us, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… The second resembles it: you must love your neighbour as yourself.” It means that filled with his Holy Spirit we are enabled to love because we have been loved first as St John marvelled in his First Letter. Jesus has infused us with love by his death, Resurrection and Glorification. That’s why in today’s Gospel he refused to be drawn into discussions about some abstract love. A couple of days after that conversation with the Pharisee, Jesus showed love when he entered his Passion and Resurrection. For God love is not abstract, because “God is love.” On the contrary in our contemporary society love has become such a broad abstract that it doesn’t unite people any more. In fact it divides people.
The small community of Christians in Thessalonica “became servants of the real, living God… waiting for Jesus, his Son.” In our divided world, which is deeply loved by the Lord, we are again called to created communities which can be leaven for the sake of others. We are called to be communities where we love God as God and because of that love we can truly love people as people. We don’t need to put others on the pedestal reserved for God, but we can love God together with them. It is the love which will never end. It is love which is a reflection of heaven not our own desires.