Reflection: Love is all we need

By Father Chris Thomas

Ronnie was a fantastic man whom I knew all of my life until his untimely death at a relatively young age. He was born and bred in Liverpool and became a Catholic in his twenties when he married the love of his life, Joan. He, Joan and Joan’s parents, Teresa and John, were a real support to our family in tough times. He was a man who was concerned with people and with the Gospel. He would help anyone, particularly those who were poor or widowed. He was part of the St Vincent de Paul society in his parish and would often find himself in trouble with others in the group as he refused to check out anyone’s credentials before giving help. He simply responded to a cry for help.
 
It has often struck me that all our theological arguments, all our religious ritual, all the questions that we ask, matter little to God. All that matters is love. We can be good Catholics, at Mass each week and praying all the prayers we have been taught, and not have an ounce of love in our hearts for the stranger, the orphan, the asylum-seeker and those who live on the fringes. I wonder what God thinks when looking at what really goes on inside us and not at the religious things we do.

In the latest encyclical by Pope Francis, ‘Fratelli tutti’, he reminds us that we are to respond to our sister or brother in need, whoever they are, wherever they may come from. We are challenged to turn outwards, to act as neighbours, and to reach out to all those who are in need. I often think the world is tired of our ideas, theologies and religious practices but it will believe love. It will believe life that is given and received.

This Advent is like every other Advent and yet, because of the pandemic, like no other Advent we have ever experienced. Maybe we could use this Advent to free our hearts to welcome the Christ who comes to us in the person in need, in those who are desperate for love, in the asylum-seeker and refugee.

Christ came in time and history. Christ will come again at the end of time. Don’t miss Christ who walks into our lives every day and offers us the invitation to love and bring life to others.