The greatest witness we can give to others is to love, not simply to do some praiseworthy act.
Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
Jesus sends out his disciples before him. This is a significant detail. Every good sowing is preceded by plowing. His very coming is preceded by the mission of John the Baptist, who is, appropriately, called his forerunner.
But why does Jesus ask for something he doesn’t actually need? Because if God is Love, then the only thing that can convince us of His existence is to see two people who truly love each other. By contrast, it’s very difficult to believe in Love if we’ve never seen the reality of people who love each other.
Young people, for example, are helped greatly in their spiritual life if in their families and in their life in general they have met people who trust each other, who protect each other, who care, and who give to each other despite their own limitations. Seeing that the ties of human relationships can be trustworthy is what makes it possible for them to trust in a relationship that is not immediately visible, such as that with God. And this is precisely why much of the atheism among young people stems from a distrust of relationships born from their experiencing and witnessing unreliable and failed relationships in their own lives.
But this rule is not absolute; there’s always room for exceptions. Certainly, however, we cannot overlook the fact that the greatest witness we can give to others is to love, not simply to do some praiseworthy act. In this sense, religious life makes sense not when it is focused on a mission or on a specific work, but when it’s a witness to fraternal ties that work. What’s attractive to those far from us is not our reasoning, but seeing people who truly love each other, who know how to forgive each other, who know how to give their lives to each other. This prepares the way for Christ.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.