Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
We are all called to live our ordinary life with an extra ordinary love. I think you all know the story of Jesse Owen and Lutz Long. Recently there was a movie of their story. Lutz was one of Germany’s top athletics in the 1939 games. He was one of Hitler’s favorite. In the long jump trials Lutz broke the Olympic record. The only one man could possibly beat him was Jesse Owen. Just before Jesse’s turn came to qualify, Hitler left his box and walked out. It was viewed as a snub of the black athletic, who did not fit Hitler’s Aryan supremacy theory. Jesse recalls how the incident made him feel: “it made me mad; hate-mad. I fouled my first try. On my second try I didn’t jump far enough to qualify. With just one try left panic hit me.” Then Jesse felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked around to see Lutz Long. Lutz suggested to draw a line a few inches short of the takeoff board and jump from there. It worked and Jesse qualified by a foot. That moment marked the beginning of a close friendship. The next couple of nights they sat up together late into the night. They talked about the world situation and their own young lives. In the days ahead Jesse won three gold medals. Then came the long jump finals. It pitted Jesse against Lutz. Jesse won the gold and Lutz the silver. Jesse recalls what happened next: “While Hitler glared, Lutz held up my hand and shouted to the gigantic crowed, Jesse Owens! Jesse Owens! The stadium picked it up; ‘Cha-zze Oh-wenz! Cha-zze Oh-wenz!’ My hair stood on end.” Ordinary athletes don’t help their opponents. But Lutz Long was no ordinary athlete. Ordinary athletes don’t celebrate their opponent’s victory. Ordinary athletes are usually forgotten a few years after their career ends. More than half a century later he is still remembered at every Olympic; where a clip of Lutz chanting “Jesse Owen” is shown worldwide on television. We the followers of Jesus are called to do the same. “If you love me you will keep my commandments,” says Jesus to us today. I think it is a very strong statement by Jesus. What happens when we don’t keep the commandments and sin? Does this mean that every time we sin we do not love Jesus? Yes. Although we love Jesus, every time we commit sin we love something or someone else more than Jesus. If we love Jesus more than anything else, we will keep ourselves free from sin for Jesus.
As I always say to love is a decision not an emotion. Loving Jesus therefore is not just something emotional; loving Jesus means a decision to change our lives, to reform our lives, to work on our personalities and characters, to overcome sinful habits, and to stretch ourselves to love as Jesus loved us. How much does Jesus love us? This much [stretching out arms], he stretched out his arms on the cross and died for us. Let us never be afraid to turn to Jesus for mercy after sinning; he is always waiting to forgive us and restore us again. Let us resolve during this Mass to love Jesus by keeping his commandments. Let always remember we are all called to do ordinary things with extra ordinary love.
God Bless You,