So at the time of the homily I explained to the assembly how I was stuck. On the one hand, I was not willing to take them and my duties as a priest so lightly as to preach without having prepared. On the other hand, it was a Sunday Mass, and therefore the faithful had a right to a homily.
My solution: I brought and read a little passage of St. Augustine's comment on the gospel for that Sunday.
Something similar has happened to me this week. It was a busy week in the office with this and that, but especially preparing the English translation of the Minister General's circular letter for the upcoming beatification of Solanus Casey.
Composing a Sunday homily in Italian probably doesn't take me much longer than it does in English, but it requires a longer span of the week to check on things, find expressions, discover my errors, etc. And this week that time ran out.
So I decided I would write a little introduction, beg the people's understanding, and give them number 18 from Deus caritas est:
Love of neighbor is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend.
Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave. Here we see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbor which the First Letter of John speaks of with such insistence. If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be “devout” and to perform my “religious duties”, then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely “proper”, but loveless.
Only my readiness to encounter my neighbor and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me. The saints—consider the example of [Saint] Teresa of Calcutta—constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbor from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its real- ism and depth in their service to others. Love of God and love of neighbor are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first. No longer is it a question, then, of a “commandment” imposed from without and calling for the impossible, but rather of a freely-bestowed experience of love from within, a love which by its very nature must then be shared with others.
Love grows through love. Love is “divine” because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a “we” which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).