Love is patient, love is kind: it does not bully...

Image: ANHCampaign

Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for this Sunday's Mass)

Hard to believe, isn’t it,
that in the synagogue at Nazareth there might be worshippers
who would throw Jesus out of the temple,
run him out of town
and try to hurl him off a cliff?

We don’t want to believe that people who had come to pray
would end up doing something like this.

Well, we’ve come here today to this temple to pray.
And I hope, and I’m sure you hope, that none of us would end up
throwing anyone here off a cliff!

After all, as St. Paul reminded us, Love is patient,
so no parents here, we trust, would be impatient with their children…
no husbands or wives would be impatient with their spouse,
no children here would be impatient with their parents,
no pastor here, we hope, would be impatient with his people,
nor they with him...

And Love is kind, not rude, not quick tempered
so we would hope and pray
that no pastor, parent, spouse, child or sibling
would be unkind, brusque, careless or short-fused
in dealing with any member of the family or the parish family...

And Love is not jealous, not pompous
and so we would hope that among us
none would flaunt their wealth or status, success or belongings
and that none would be jealous of others who might have more…

And Love does not brood over injury
and so we trust that none of us here
are nursing old wounds, grudges and resentments
from months or years ago...

And Love does not seek its own interests
but rejoices with the truth
so we trust that in our families,
and where we work and go to school -and where we worship-
that we rejoice not just in our own opinions and certainties
but rather in finding and telling the truth,
even when the truth we find is difficult to accept
and when telling the truth is the hardest thing to do…

Love is patient and kind.
Are we?

Love is not jealous, pompous, or rude.
How grateful and humble,
how thoughtful and careful are we with each other?

Love does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
Do we really seek the truth
or do we mostly seek to prove ourselves right?

Love is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury.
How quickly ignited is our anger?
How burdened are we with our grudges?

Our sins against the love of which St. Paul writes
are etched in the vulnerability vulnerable hearts
of our family members, classmates, colleagues at work,
and our neighbors and fellow parishioners.

Consider the vulnerability of students who are teased and rejected
and bullied at school.

Consider that among us may be a student
who’s the object of bullying
on the school bus or in the classroom or cafeteria -
and that with us right here, at this same Mass,
may be that student's bully...

If the love I pray and sing and share here
doesn’t go home with me to school and to work,
then, as St. Paul wrote,
I am nothing,
I have nothing,
I gain nothing...

Bullying takes many forms, sometimes its subtle
and it’s not restricted to the school yard.
There's more than one way to run someone out of town,
to hurl someone off a cliff.

Gathered with us at the altar this morning
are folks who gossip about others
and across the aisle may be the very persons
whose reputations are the stuff of that gossip.
Where is the love?

Some family members are here together this morning
and have carried with them the unkind words, the cold silence,
or whatever hurt they may have visited upon each other this past week.
How might the love we celebrate here heal the hurt we bring with us?
It might be true, indeed, that if Jesus were here as he was in Nazareth,
you and I would not have run him out of town.

But he is here in Concord and he lives with us in our homes,
he’s at our side at work and at school
and he’s not only at this table in the sacrament of the Eucharist
but he’s sitting in a pew very close to each of us right now.

And just as he was insulted, mocked, ridiculed and bullied
in his own day,
so he is treated in our day
every time you and I fail to love one another
as he loved us.

It’s a good thing that at the beginning of every Mass
we stop to remember our sins and to pray for God’s mercy
because you and I are called to live a love that makes demands on us
in every moment
of every day
in every relationship we have.

We are called to a love that
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

We are called to a love that never fails...
Such unfailing love is the love the Lord offers each of us
and it’s the love he calls us to have for one another
and it’s the love he’s about to share with us at this altar
in the gift of his Body and Blood.

Sisters and brothers:
let us love one another as God has loved us,
for God is love...


  1. One of my favorite readings was just made better.

    Well done ~ great message!

  2. Father Austin,

    Challenging as always.

    Have a great week.


  3. Austin,

    Sitting on the couch here with John both sick. Since we cannot make it to church, we decided to read this week's readings and your homily. Very moving, thought provoking, and amazing.

    We "loved" it.

    Thanks for making us feel better - Gerry & John

  4. What a great homily. This really lands and beautifully so.

    We had a middle school youth ministry retreat last night that started with 4pm liturgy. We had the kids do the readings and the young lady that read Corinthians did an outstanding job. I watched her and looked at the other kids, thinking about our retreat theme of community and inclusion.

    So coming here today was a reminder of how our behavior among one another realizes the Gospel or rejects it.

    In case you are wondering, let me say that the retreat was amazing and the Scriptures gave us the launch pad needed, as always.


  5. This homily bought the Gospel into our lives. Thank you!

  6. love is...
    all of those things...

    but it is also kind of rare and can be difficult to give and receive...
    more difficult to get back when you give it I think-

    it is complicated...

    it hurts...

  7. I think everyone has their own challenges when it comes to loving others so unconditionally as Paul tells us to. My challenge is with "Love is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury."

    I pray that I become better at loving.

    Thank you!

  8. For me love is a choice I make to consider what is good for the other. It compels me to move outside of myself. Too often love is relegated to the realm of just an emotion or feeling. It's seems to be about what do I get out of it? That is the challenge you place before us Father. Thanks for continuing to be prophetic.

  9. I hope and pray your homily reached the hearts of those who bully others. The story in the paper just recently of the girl from Hadley who committed suicide due to the bullying of her peers was heartbreaking. It's something that needs to be addressed and looked at ways to prevent this from happening. Your homily was good for all to hear, but especially those who fail to treat others with kindness and respect.

  10. What a great resource!

  11. I think this might help me to hear this scripture in a totally different way from now on...thank you.


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and PRAY before you think!