How To Love and To Have a Strong Faith

25 June 2009 Thursday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time
Gen 16, 1-16; Psalm 106; Matthew 7, 21-29

The Gospel tells us of the relationship between words and deeds. Between what we say and what we do. It says that it is not enough to say, “Lord, Lord” for only doing God’s will allows us to enter the Kingdom of God. St. Ignatius of Loyola said that love ought to shown more in deeds than in words. It is easy nowadays to say what we feel, what we think, how we view life in general. For many of us, expression is a piece of cake. We can text, email, or update people in our social network through Twitter or Plurk.

But when difficulties arise in our relationships, I guess, a much more challenging to do is to express our love in deeds. Many young couples profess their love for each other; but when conflicts in interest or schedules come, their love is put on trial. Many friends acknowledge the strength of their bond with each other; but when a hurting remark has been made, that bond suddenly goes up in the air. Many of the pious and the religious or even those who have come freshly from a retreat would profess their faith in the Lord, only to be abandoned once the “euphoria” is gone and the experience of failure, loneliness, fear and tragedy seeps into their lives. Many people who advocate certain issues have fought for principles, but often, we find them wanting in their lifestyles. Adlai Stevenson once said, “It is often easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.” Words nowadays need to be enfleshed more solidly into our lives.

It is important to note that we are not saying that words are inconsequential. Words are also important because there are things that should be articulated so that the meaning of the action will not be misinterpreted. An action without words will be prone to many interpretations; just as words may move different people to various actions. So we need to articulate what we do; as well as we should do what we articulate. We have to walk the talk. We have to live up to what we say.

There is a favorite song of mine from the play, Fiddler on the Roof, which illustrates the point of the Gospel today and the advice of St. Ignatius of Loyola: love being expressed more in deeds that in words. The lyrics of that song begin this way. Tevye, the husband, nervously asks his wife, Golde, this unusual question: Do you love me? Golde responds: Do I what?

Tevye: Do you love me? Golde: Do I love you? With our daughters getting married/and this trouble in the town,/ You’re upset, you’re worn out, Go inside, go lie down. Maybe it’s indigestion.
Tevye: Golde, I’m asking you a question: Do you love me? Golde: You’re a fool.
Tevye: I know--- But do you love me? Golde: Do I love you? For 25 years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After 25 years, why talk about love right now?
Tevye: Golde, the first time I met you was on our wedding day. I was scared. Golde: I was shy
Tevye: I was nervous. Golde: So was I.
Tevye: But my father and my mother said we’d learn to love each other. And now I’m asking, Golde, do you love me? Golde: Do I love him? For 25 years my bed is with him, starved with him. Twenty five years my bed is his. If that’s not love, what is?
Tevye: Then you love me? Golde: I suppose I do.
Tevye: And I suppose I love you too. Golde and Tevye together: It doesn’t change a thing, But even so, after 25 years, it’s nice to know.

Watch the video from the Fiddler on the Roof:

Golde truly loved Tevye--- expressing her love more in deeds than in words. Such love is solidly founded. It will not break, nor is it fragile.

The same way with our faith. If we do what we believe in, our faith becomes stronger. But if it remains on paper, the Gospel warns us: when the rain, the flood and the wind buffets the house, it will collapse and will be completely ruined.

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