[Mass for the School Children]
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Elizabeth was the daughter of the king of Hungary, and she married Louis IV of Thuringia when she was fourteen years old. They were happily married and had three children together. Together, they tried to live the ideals of St. Francis who was all about living simply and helping the poor. So they sold their possessions and gave the money to the poor. This upset Elizabeth’s in-laws, who probably were hoping to inherit the things Louis and Elizabeth owned. When Louis was on the way to fight in a war, he was killed. Elizabeth’s in-laws forced her out of the palace, and she and her children went to live with her uncle who was a bishop. After Louis’s friends returned from the war, they restored Elizabeth to the palace and her rightful place. St. Elizabeth is a woman who lived a simple life and dedicated her life to loving others and helping the poor. She is the patron of Catholic Charities.
The story of St. Elizabeth and the story about the old man in the play our fifth graders acted out remind us about two things. First of all, they remind us that living a simple life brings us closer to God. The old man didn’t care about how rich he could become if he sold his land; he only wanted to live in the house he grew up in for the rest of his days. Elizabeth didn’t care about all the possessions and luxury she could have in the palace; she only wanted to live the Gospel and help the poor. By not surrounding themselves with money and luxury, they could see and appreciate all the things that really matter.
Second, these stories remind us that sometimes loving people is hard. The old man loved everyone in the town, but when they thought they could get rich, they turned on him. He loved them anyway. Elizabeth loved the poor. So when her in-laws threw her out of the palace, it would have been easier for her to stop helping the poor. But she didn’t. By choosing to love people even when it was hard to do that, both the old man and St. Elizabeth were models of God’s love for all of us.
Today’s Gospel calls us to do something that is hard for us to do: love our enemies and be good to them. Who wants to do that? It’s so much easier for us to love, and be kind to, people who love us back and who are also kind to us. But anyone can do that, Jesus tells us. All of us who want to follow Jesus have to go a little further and to love everyone, whether they love us or not. Yes, that’s hard to do. But if we could just trust Jesus enough to love and be kind to someone who isn’t kind to us, we could really change things. We could really see how God’s love changes everything if we would love everyone, no matter how hard that is to do. We have to treat others just as we want to be treated.