Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's Mass Readings


Seminarians of Conception Seminary College are our daily reflection writers for the first half of November. Every day will feature a reflection from a different seminarian, mixed in with reflections from Fr. Pachomius, Conception’s Dean of Students. This is an opportunity for our seminarians to put their education to practice and connect with the people of God in a pastoral way.

Peanuts’ character Linus famously proclaimed: “I love mankind! It’s people I can’t stand.” Our whole culture feels like this now. What the elite class who speak to our culture in the media, in social media, and even in political life is a love of the human person but a kind that detests the particularity of unwashed Americans. We used to deal with one another face to face and to suffer real consequences for being mean to our neighbor. Now, the way we treat others in generalized terms is allowed to be outright hateful.

Christ’s teaching has formed me, and despite my base passions, I know that I must love my neighbor. The saddest misunderstanding of non-religious people is that worship of God distracts or even detracts from loving people. When in fact it has been revealed that God’s best name is Love (cf. 1 Jn. 4:8). St. Thomas Aquinas, for his part, taught that love is diffusive of itself – which is a high-falutin’ way of saying that love cannot be contained. True love never turns inward but expands. Thus, if you encounter the source of Love itself, you will be changed. The love that is God is a burning fire. If one is given over to love it will be a purifying fire. If one builds on the straw that is self-centeredness or malice, he will be burned up (cf. 1 Cor. 3:12-17).

For all that said, even some Christians think monks are a useless breed – or worse! In fact, the pagans who observed the first Christian men and women going to the deserts of the Near East forsaking marriage and the normal obligations of society dubbed them monos. From this word we get the English term “monk.” Monos means “alone.” However, in truly rebellious fashions these first monks took this name on because the term also means “whole,” “entire,” “complete.” These monks were not misanthropes but rather were renowned for their hospitality to those who sought their advice on God. They had something to offer the whole Church because they themselves had been made whole in the refining love of God.

In truth, it is hard to demonstrate authentic growth in holiness to human eyes. Christ told us any growth in holiness will have an equal and opposite growth in charity (cf. Jn. 13:33). So, if you want to truly love mankind, you need to do the impossible math of Christianity: love the Lord alone with your whole being and your neighbors as yourself.

Reflection by Fr. Pachomius Meade, OSB

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