by Derek Coelho 

“Inspired by the gospel mandate to love”: Many of the scripture readings in the Catholic Church during these days after Christmas are from the first letter of John. John writes: “If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his sister or brother, s/he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother or sister whom s/he sees, cannot love God whom s/he has not seen”.

In many stories in the gospels, Jesus expresses his love and compassion by restoring broken families, children, women and men who come before him and plead for his assistance, to wholeness and completeness within themselves by restoring their tranquility of body, mind or spirit that has been disturbed, before sending them back to the community they come from, to let everyone know and “pay it forward”.

In being invited to “love another as I have loved you” or “love the brother or sister I see” I am asked to open my eyes, give thanks for every gift I’ve been given gratuitously, see the person before me, be present to the person with me this moment and consider reshuffling my priorities. I am called to use my education, my talents and resources to give voice to the concerns of our voiceless sisters and brothers in the human family who need me to advocate, for them, not just for today’s bread but also for change and justice through legislative action, till we live in a community of equals, where all can live with self-respect, good health care and in peace, not in a society with a widening gap between the rich and poor.

Each of us, made in the “image and likeness of the Creator” and carrying that powerful light within us, are called to continue the ministry of Christ and restore our clients, colleagues, volunteers, donors and ourselves to wholeness, through our relationships, so that we can be encouraged by each other and bring about God’s reign “on earth as it is in heaven”.