We could use the wit and wisdom of Bishop Fulton Sheen in our lives. Today we are going to look at part of a talk he gave in London, England almost 50 years ago. Bishop Sheen was talking on the three types of love.
Bishop Sheen explained: We have 19 minutes to go through the other two. I want to tell you that 19 minutes is going to seem long,, because my talks always seem longer than they are. I know of a Biblical lecturer who had as his subject the 12 minor prophets. After one hour and 45 minutes, he had finished three. He had a dim sense that maybe the audience was getting tired and perhaps he should introduce the next one with some degree of histrionics. He said, "And now... and now... Where shall I place Habakkuk?" Someone got up in the back and said, "He can take my seat."
The Greeks had another word for love. The other word for love is philia. You know it. Philadelphia. Adelphos in Greek is brother. So Philadelphia is brotherly love. Philia means caring. It means that persons matter. This is the love of humanity. This is the kind of love, for example, that inspires the Peace Corps. It is the kind of love that inspires your love of social justice, of which our young generation is so very fond. But something of course, to remember is that philia is never selective. It never just chooses certain poor; it loves all poor. It never chooses just one object where there is social injustice; it chooses all. Philia is universal. And there's much more really of this philia in the world than is generally imagined. And it's when we become unconscious of the fact that we are our brother's keeper, we lose a great deal of our own personal dignity.
Dostoevski, the distinguished Russian novelist, tells the story about an old woman in Hell. The angel came to her and said, "Have you ever in your life done anything good?" And she said, "Yes.. .once I gave a carrot to a beggar. " The angel said, "All right. I'm going to let a carrot down to Hell and I want you to take hold of that carrot and I will pull you out." So, naturally, when the thousands of souls that were around the old woman saw her being pulled out hanging on to the carrot, they hung on to her. And there were thousands and thousands. And she turned around to them and said, "Get off. I'm the one who's being pulled out." Then they all fell down...the carrot, and the old woman. Yet we're saved simply because we're conscious of being human with everyone else in all of the world.
I am thinking now of the story of a man who was asked to give to charity, and when he went to Heaven, St. Peter asked him, "Have you really ever done anything? "He said, "Yes, I gave a dollar once to the Community Chest. St. Peter said to the angel in charge of the IBM cards, "Look up and see if he ever gave a dollar to the Community Chest. He has a lot of money." The angel said, "Yes, he gave a dollar." And St. Peter said to the angel, "Give him back his dollar. Tell him to go to Hell."
Brothers and Sisters- where are you going? Are you paying attention to the here and now or the hereafter? We can not lose sight of why we are here and where we are going. Too many of us are observers in our own life. We are bystanders in a game where we should be players and we are on the bench watching the events like spectators instead of out there on the mound trying to pitch for a victory. Christ’s victory for us was the beginning. He did his part, now we must do ours. This includes regular things that allow us to be active spirits for Christ. God did select us for his team to sit us on the bench and watch others. Our society today is far too comfortable with the words that Bishop Fulton used, He said, "And now... and now... Where shall I place Habakkuk?" Someone got up in the back and said, "He can take my seat."
Brother and Sisters do not give up your seat- rather- stand up and take the field for Christ. God is calling and wants to play on his team. Do not let another take your place in the stands watching, waiting, and fearful of the future. Let us play ball on God’s team and we will find that we will not lose in this world or the next. Amen