Ez 33: 7-9; Rom 13:8-10; Matt 18:15-20
Loving is “the fulfillment of the law,” Paul says in Romans today. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is forming his disciples for leading his church. He is forming us too. To Love — as best we can: in this particular situation, or that particular issue, on a given particular day. We, this community, have many young people, school age, students among us. They are precious to us, and we who are no longer students, minister to them. Now after Labor Day, we note this as we prepare to bless them at the beginning of a new academic year.
They look to the Church for meaning in a world of relativism and loss of meaning in their world. They seek identification with the traditions and truths of the Chruch as an anchor and sure guide. I saw this regularly at the UK Newman Center. Our ability to love them — “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans) — requires that we ourselves remain in communion with God, so as to serve them and form them as God would wish, according to the mind of the Church. We do this in our CCD classes and in our Youth Group
Christ tells us today, “If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” This weekend we pray for our students in this still new academic year, and this morning we invoke the blessing of the Holy Spirit on them. We believe that their school work is the work that God has given them to do at this time of their lives. We pray that they find God there. The spiritual writer, Father Jean De Caussade, S.J., discusses this in his classic book, The Sacrament of the Present Moment. In this work, he stresses the importance of finding God in the ordinary incidents of daily life. God is present in every moment, encouraging us, guiding us, and leading us.
We in this parish give them education in the things of the Church and the things of God – “the traditioning process” or the handing down. Here they learn to know God. Knowing God is much greater than knowing about God which one can learn in a book. Knowing God involves encountering God and recognizing that it is God acting in and through the everyday events of my life in the community of faith. This is an education, this way of knowing, that they take with them on their life journeys – beyond St. Andrew perhaps.
The parish community assists in helping students come to know God in this way. We are all formators of youth. When we minister to our school age youth in this way, we love them as the Apostle Paul tells us today and we are more than fulfilling the Law. We are stretching ourselves in love of God and love of neighbor for God’s greater Glory.