From time to time we learn how experts have determined that a certain canvas or sculpture was a fake or was done not by the presumed master but by one of his apprentices or by a skillful imitator. True artists leave the peculiar mark of their genius in all their masterpieces. Experts, familiar with whatever makes a certain piece of art unique, can unmask replicas; can expose the piece as a counterfeit, a clever imitation, a fake.
With this in mind, let us consider the words of the Prophet Jeremiah (1:4-5, 17-19). It is God speaking to each one of us: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. I appointed you a prophet. …I am with you to deliver you.
All true masterpieces are first alive and burning in the heart of the artist. True artists see their finished work already in a lump of clay, a block of marble, a blank canvas. Then, their love and skill shape the formless matter into objects of love and pride. Artists feel affection for their works of art as if they were their children.
It should not surprise us, therefore, that God, the supreme artist, has fallen in love with us from before our birth; or that his fondness for us will never fade. What should surprise us is the fact that God has imprinted each one of us, trillions of people over the millennia, with the same trademark, His unique, identifiable mark: LOVE.
And what is even more remarkable is the fact that He has done so without making a single duplicate! Each one of us will bear for the rest of his/her life the imprint of God’s love, but will express it in a unique way! Even the best artists after awhile repeat themselves. God will never make replicas or imitation of us, because He is boundless love! The value of a masterpiece is increased considerably if it is one of a kind—with no duplicates. This consideration leads us to begin to understand why the Father found us so precious that He redeemed us through the shedding of the Blood of His only begotten Son!
Listen to what the Psalmist (139:13) says about God’s awesome skill: You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!
But it also exposes the foolishness, callousness and arrogance of those who claim that human beings have the constitutional right to dismember and destroy what God is knitting in the womb. The whole world decries the insanity of ISIS as those brutes relish the destruction of priceless and irreplaceable artifacts and antiquities in Iraq and Syria. But, where are the outcry and the rage over those who are in the business of destroying God’s irreplaceable masterpieces? It should give us ample pause that the very same people who extol the right to tear down God’s work in the womb invoke so easily His blessing on our country!
St. Paul (1 Cor 12:31-13:13) describes for us the imprint that God has left in our souls: Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, love is never rude, never self-seeking, it is not prone to anger, there is no limit to love’s forbearance , to its trust, its hope, its power to endure…
The Gospel of Luke (4:21-30), however, displays the ugliness of the scene when God’s imprint is tarnished or covered up or destroyed. Jesus’ townsfolk had lost God’s imprint of love through arrogance, complacency, pretensions, sense of superiority and elitism. When Jesus points out to them that his life’s mission is to love all peoples, all nations, all walks of life, friends and foes alike, fellow citizens as well as strangers: their indignation flares up, and, in their anger, they even try to kill him. His presence, his voice, his attitude becomes an unbearable reproach for their loveless lives.
Today, we come here bearing the divine imprint of love in our souls. It might not be shining; it might not be resplendent, but it is there. We need some polishing; we need some motivation; we need an incentive that would prove to us that God’s trademark is still making us proud, and that there is a way to show it to everyone we meet. We are here to learn how to love.
We began our Mass with the sign of the cross. We make it always with devotion, mindful that: No greater love has anyone than to lie down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
- We listen to God’s love letters in the readings; we profess that we are all brothers and sisters in his family.
- We eat the Flesh of the Lamb who takes away the sins of hatred, discord, division, indifference, apathy, vengeance.
- We drink his Blood that makes us bold in our loving and serving.
- We, then, leave this banquet to extend our willingness to love and to serve everyone in which the Lord Jesus is silently present.
- We do this every Sunday because there is nothing more important for us than to make more visible, in action, factually, the imprint of God’s love in our selves.
- We do this every Sunday so that we may feel the joy which inevitably fills our hearts every time we truly love.
- We do this every Sunday because, otherwise, we might wind up like the people of Nazareth: self-absorbed and arrogant.
- We do this every Sunday until we muster enough courage to be totally involved in protecting the most fragile of God’s handiworks.
In a few words, we do this every Sunday so that, every day, the world may inch forward towards the perfection of love meant for it.
These, my brothers and sisters, are some of the ways in which we can help make God’s imprint recognizable everywhere.
May it conquer our minds and our hearts, today and forever!