St Luke’s Gospel today, Jesus is asking
us to love God more whole-heartedly. That is,
our love for Him should not be in half measures
and conditional like I will love God only when
I have the time. When we love God, He should
be the centre of our lives and the reason and
meaning of all that we do daily. If God takes
first place in our lives, then we love others
not because we want them to love us in return,
but we love others because we love God. Allow
me to explain with a true story.
years ago, Domingo, a Filipino about 32 years
of age fell very ill. Both his kidneys were collapsing.
He needed a transplant. However, Domingo had
two big problems: there was no kidney that matched
his blood group, and his family was too poor
to afford the operation. Domingo was weakening
rapidly. Domingo told his family that he would
rather die because he did not want to burden
his family with his illness. Indeed, unless miracles
happened, Domingo would die.
sister, Maria, was frantic. She was willing to
sell her small house that she had worked so hard
for so long to own. Should she sell her house,
she would only get enough to pay for the initial
costs of operation. Maria, with tears in her
eyes unveiled her agony to me. I encouraged Maria
and her family to pray and to trust God. I also
promised her I would try to help her in whatever
way I could.
few days later, blood tests showed that Maria’s
15 year old niece, Jane, had blood that matched
that of Domingo’s. Jane was most willing
to donate her kidney to her uncle. However, their
hopes were dashed. Jane was under age and she
was prohibited from donating her kidney.
I continued to encourage Maria not to give up
hope and to continue to pray. Meanwhile, I sought
financial help from various people. A couple
from Singapore heard of Domingo’s story.
This couple have four young children, and they
lived in a small HDB flat and had to work very
hard to earn a living. They were moved by Domingo’s
desperate situation. They donated 2,500 dollars
from their small savings for Domingo’s
treatment. Together with other generous donors
Domingo was able to undergo several dialyses
and was eventually able to find a kidney donor
and undergo his operation. Some years later,
I heard from Maria that Domingo was under medication
and was doing well.
Singapore couple, who gave up a large chunk of
their many years of savings for Domingo was not
only moved with compassion for Domingo’s
suffering. Through learning about Domingo’s
sufferings they began to realize how God has
blessed their own family so abundantly. They
began to see how their own difficulties were
so insignificant and small compared to what Domingo
and his family had to go through.
even though Domingo was thousands of miles away
they felt deeply that they should reach out to
him. Whether they actually knew him or not became
secondary. What was more important was that Domingo
be saved. Their compassion was real and genuine.
I was deeply moved and totally dumbfounded by
their Christian charity for Domingo.
Singaporean couple, witness very powerfully to
me what loving Jesus unconditionally means. To
them, loving Jesus meant loving Domingo. To them,
knowing Jesus meant knowing those who suffered.
Indeed, to them, to be worthy of Jesus is to
see that Domingo was worth helping. Their concern
for Domingo was truly edifying. They wanted to
remain anonymous and at the same time they continued
to show concern for Domingo’s welfare and
the progress of his health situation.
me if I say that over the past 21 years as a
Jesuit, I have encountered many similar holy
people in the Church. I have also met many sinners
who have made radical and total conversions of
turning back to God in their fidelity to their
marriage and family.
course I have also come across broken marriages
and sad stories of vocations in our Church. But,
on the whole, let me say again, that I believe
the faith is very alive in the Church. There
are many good and holy people like yourselves.
Let us not underestimate the capacity we have
in our hearts to love others. The Spirit is more
alive in us than we think. Without denying that
we are sinners, let us be aware that we are more
worthy of God’s love than we think we are.
mentioned all these to a non-Christian friend
recently. He was clearly moved and very surprised.
His conclusion was: “I suppose such good
people are only found in your Christian Church.
As a businessman in the world,” he said, “most
of the people I have dealt with cannot really
be trusted; they are real sharks waiting for
a good opportunity to swallow you up.” In
many ways, I am not surprised at what this non-Christian
friend of mine said.
brothers and sisters in Christ, I really do not
think that I have painted too rosy a picture
of our Catholic Church. I truly believe the Holy
Spirit is very active in the Church, making us
more worthy disciples of Our Lord, if only we
allow Him to take over our lives more fully.
We have survived for 2000 years and I believe
we will continue to survive.
brothers and sisters in Christ, if we are inclined
to doubt our capacity to trust and love God so
generously then, let us remind ourselves that:
it is God who gives us the strength we need.
We are not relying solely on our own strength;
we are dependent on God. However, we must first
begin by asking God for more courage to love.
We learn about love through loving. We become
God’s light and disciple in this world
only through shining and only through being a
good Christian striving daily to become better.
conclude, you and I are called to love God more
whole-heartedly. We could love in so many ways:
a gentle smile, a caring hand, a prayerful concern
or a simple sacrifice. The more we allow God’s
love to be at the centre of our lives, the more
love we will surely have for others.
us take Jesus’ message today to heart and
put God first and other things in our lives as
secondary. When we are able to do this, we can
be sure that God will take care of our family
and the rest of our needs. This is our mission
as Christians; this is our task . . . an uncompromising
commitment to love God above all else. Can we
do this? Yes, if we are willing to allow God’s
strength to carry us through daily.