Homily – Let your love be without hypocrisy

A Lesson on Living Well – A Lesson on Love
Romans 12:6-14 (Epistle)
Just prior to today’s reading, St. Paul had affirmed that all Christian are part of the same body. So having set in our mind that we are all on one team, working towards a single purpose; he encourages us to use our diverse gifts towards this goal;
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
he who exhorts, in exhortation;
But then he goes on to point out that it is not enough that we use our gifts, but that we use them properly;
he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
This is more than a call to develop the skills of our callings (so those involved in our music and chanting ministry must learn to sing and chant the services; those involved in our kitchen ministry must learn to follow recipes; those involved in our community outreach must learn to do so; those involved in preaching must do so (come quickly, Lord!)); it is also a call – and this is probably even more important – to train our attitudes (e.g. our will) and our feelings. This mix of attributes – efficiency and a trained will – is underscored in the next section:
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good…
Because we are Christians, love must be the foundation and purpose for all our actions and the application of all our gifts. But this has very little to do with our feelings – they are among the things that must be trained – but about the single-minded motivation to serve others; to sacrifice ourselves in the spreading of the Gospel just as Christ did. Until we have trained them, our feelings are terribly inaccurate guides to love. If our feelings automatically directed us towards doing good and away from doing bad, then there would be no need for today’s teacher (St. Paul) to tell us to “abhor what is evil; cling to what is good”. If we are honest, we have to admit that our feelings often get us into trouble. There are objective standards of good and evil and it is our job as members of the body of Christ to train our wills to work in congruence with this reality and our minds towards its efficient realization. Acting in this way trains our feelings in a way that restores our human nature.
Let me be clear, when St. Paul tells us to love without hypocrisy, he is NOT saying only to only love the things that our feelings have told us to love and only do the things that our feelings encourage us to do. I have actually heard this from people! To paraphrase their argument, they say; “well, I didn’t want to do this thing that is supposed to be the right thing to do because I didn’t feel it – if I would have done it I would have been a hypocrite.” The implication is that living in accordance with one’s feelings is more important than living a holy, Christian, and God-pleasing life. Do you see the folly? To be holy is not to follow our feelings, but to have our wills, our minds, and our feelings all working in concert with the will of God. This is what it means to surrender our lives to Christ, to be able to say that it is not I who lives, but Christ who lives within me. This is the path to holiness; this is the path to humanness. A hypocrite is not one who does what is right despite his feelings; a hypocrite is one who claims to do what is right while doing what is wrong. The one who does what is right despite his feelings has received no reward for his action – acting without reward is one of the highest forms of love.
And while it is beautiful when any member of the body of Christ has united his will, his mind, and perhaps even his newly trained feelings with the will of God; it is even more glorious when all of us to it together. The body of Christ, with its members having mastered themselves and their talents, all working together to manifest love in this world. This is God’s plan for the Church. This is God’s plan for us.


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