The Summons

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There’s a song I love simply called “The Summons” written by John Bell.  The second verse of this song is my favorite and the most challenging; it goes like this:

“Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?  Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same? Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare? Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?”  What a test of my faith to care for cruel and kind the same.  Yet, in today’s gospel, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, not just to forgive them, but to love them; to do good to those who persecute us and to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  He tells us to treat others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated, with kindness and love for God’s love embraces both the saint and the sinner.   If we seek the Grace to pray for those who hurt us the power of revenge is broken, and the power of love is released to do good in the face of evil.

In the early days of Mother Teresa’s ministry to the poor, she rescued children from the streets of Calcutta and gave them a place to stay.  She needed to feed her children and so she went about begging.  When she approached one business man and held out her hand for a donation, he spit in it.  She withdrew her hand and immediately held out her other hand saying:  “That was for me, now how about something for my children.”  Would I ever have that kind of forgiveness and courage; or would I leave empty handed, angry, discouraged and afraid to ask anyone else.  Would I allow the darkness to distinguish the light of God’s love in my heart?

But the most powerful example of living the gospel message that I can remember came from a courageous woman whose daughter was raped and murdered as she closed up the business where she worked.  Her daughter was in her 20’s and pregnant for her second child.  She was a beautiful young girl full of life and love, excited about becoming a mother again.  Suddenly she was gone, her life and that of her unborn baby stolen.  If I were her mother how would I have responded?  I can only tell you that this woman, this mother filled with unspeakable sorrow reached out to the mother of the young man who murdered her daughter.  She responded with compassion toward someone who was also hurting.  To this day, this mother, this beautiful example of God’s mercy, hands out business size cards that encourage others to commit random acts of kindness.  And I think that this can be a challenge for us in the coming week, let each one of us look for the opportunity to reach out in kindness to someone who is not easy to love. In doing so, we will be taking a step toward being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

Sylvia Bates