Dear brothers and sisters,
Through baptism, we became members of the body of Christ, brothers and sisters of the Lord, and children of God. In our journey through life we either stay faithful to that vocation and identity, or we abandon it; and sometimes we go back and forth. In today’s Gospel passage, Christ gives us the sign that tells us whether we are living up to our vocation, the touchstone of the true Christian. It isn’t vast theological knowledge, or personal charm, or professional success; nor is it ecstasies in prayer or extreme penances. Rather, the identifying mark of a Christian is treating others – all others – the way God does, the way God treats us. God is kind and merciful “even to the ungrateful and the wicked.” If we are his children, his followers, we will be too. We will be quick to forgive, to make excuses for others, to avoid judging and condemning them. We will think well of others, speak well of them, and treat them like the children of God that they truly are. Jesus doesn’t just tell us what we’re supposed to do in life; he also tells us why. We are created in God’s image, and God is love; his very divine nature is all about self-giving. So, the more we develop our capacity for love, for authentic, self-forgetful love, the more we will mature into what God created us to be. Just as a mature, healthy apple tree bears abundant fruit, so a mature, healthy human soul overflows with the spiritual fruits of profound joy, peace, and enthusiasm. This is what Jesus means when he says, “give, and gifts will be given to you.” If we are true Christians, treating all others as we would like them to treat us, as God has treated us, we will be truly happy.