January 2022 Four County Catholic
'What the World Needs Now...'
Those of you who were around in the 1960s may recognize the above as the opening line of a popular song and may easily be able to complete the lyric. “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of”
Like today, the 1960s was a turbulent time in America’s history. The ‘world needs love’ sentiment is not new.
“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.” This familiar sentence begins one of the most popular readings proclaimed at weddings. While it can be very valuable for couples embarking on a lifelong commitment together this was not the initial intent of Saint Paul when he penned his first letter to the church of Corinth. He was writing to a group of people who, much like today’s society, were struggling with social division – class, gender, race, wealth.
What Saint Paul wrote is as countercultural now as it was 2000 years ago. As he outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 –– “Love is patient, love is kind. “He then describes all the things that love is not, concluding with “[Love] does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
If news reports and opinion pieces are a correct indicator, it appears that we have once again lost faith in the goodness of our fellow Americans. The persistent vitriol of hurtful interchanges can be seen playing out in newspapers and online media as well as on radio and television. The countercultural command to “love your neighbor as yourself” that Christ taught and generation after generation of Christians have put into action, is beginning to be lost in the dissenting voices that look to divide us.
We must not lose hope. The healing, uplifting, overarching message of Christ is the ultimate course correction of what ails our nation at this tumultuous time. It is wise to remember that we are all children of the same Father. He calls us to live as brothers and sisters. Our personal interaction with others is our chance to live out the love that Saint Paul describes.
Are our interactions with others Christ-like? Do we take time to hear people out, giving them the benefit of the doubt? Do we “pile-on” or do we instead offer forgiveness?
When an old timer was asked if he was a Christian he responded, “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask my neighbor.” How might each of us score if our neighbors were to grade us?
So much of society today is focused on instant gratification and self-centeredness. Living a life of loving self-sacrifice for the good of others must be acknowledged and celebrated.
On December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I had the pleasure of ordaining Deacon Larry Barile to the order of the priesthood. What a blessing to experience once again God’s tenderness to the local church of Norwich.
Pope Saint John Paul II once voiced, “Every vocation to the priestly ministry is an extraordinary gift of God’s love.” We rejoice that the Lord has graced us with this wonderful gift of a new priest who over time has responded to God’s call.
We know that vocations do not fall out of the blue. They arise out of God's deep and abiding love for each of us, touching the hearts of those whom God has placed in our path. By way of illustration Father Barile shared the following, “through the many good examples of my parents, my siblings and I were taught the important value of helping others in their time of need. These early lessons helped me to realize that there is greater joy in giving of oneself.” I pray that Father Larry continues to find and share this joy.
As I write this and as you read this, it is still the Christmas season. May you carry the Christmas spirit into 2022 as a year-long/life-long way of life, because “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No not just for some, but for everyone.”
Happy New Year to you and your family.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich