Love of God and Neighbor – Dcn. Ken Billinger

Dcn. Ken Billinger’s Homily October 25, 2020

“The Gospel from Matthew today, Jesus makes it really clear. There’s two greatest commandments: love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all you mind and the second is love your neighbor as yourself. It’s really a culmination of the Ten Commandments when you think about it because when you look at those Ten Commandments there are several that talk about loving and serving God and the others are loving and serving our neighbors.

In 1951, in a small town in western Kansas, a lady named Bonnie married a Catholic man. Now Bonnie was a protestant, Bonnie was a Methodist, but in 1951 it was pretty common for someone to marry a Catholic and then convert to the faith. Bonnie did not do that however, Bonnie led a pretty interesting life. Bonnie and her husband had six kids all of which became Catholic. Bonnie could be seen every Sunday with her husband and her six kids. Bonnie taught her children the Catechism because she was one time a teacher and most people had no idea she was not Catholic, but she went to Mass with her children and her husband and she also went to her church as well. Her faith was important to her, but what was also important to her was making sure that she helped to raise these kids in the Catholic faith by teaching them the Catechism and being with them at Mass. She also had a real love for scripture, reading scripture. She played piano, so she played Christian or Gospel songs. She loved it, spending time in the Word, but spending a lot of time in prayer. Now, Bonnie was a neonatal nurse and she worked over nights. Again from a small western Kansas town, a German-Catholic community, she’d work overnights and then come home, sleep for a few hours and then she would go out and visit some of the elderly in the community checking blood pressure, checking blood sugar levels, maybe changing a bandage that needed it just checking their overall health. It was part of what she did. Many people didn’t know that and when she passed away in 2010 at her funeral it was talked about as she was called a silent hero. Bonnie served others very quietly. She didn’t want recognition. Her son who died at 23 years old was very much like her as well. He would care for the elderly and pick them up and take them to the grocery store or deliver groceries to them. Bonnie was the epitome of what we hear in today’s Gospel, loving God and loving neighbor. That’s a challenge for us at times. How can we love God more? And I think a lot of times what happens is when we really deepen our faith in loving God that spills over into our loving neighbor and I always talk about the fact that prayer is the foundation of growing closer to God. That’s our foundations. Prayer is one of those things that is so important and we have the beautiful prayers like the Rosary and other wrote prayers, but to take time just to spend time with God in silence is something that is so powerful and can help us to grow in our faith. We’re really blessed here because in a matter of about a month we will have a new adoration chapel and an opportunity for people to come and spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It’s a great opportunity. I can remember the first time when I was asked to sub for an hour for adoration. My eyes got kind of big and I said, ‘An hour! I’m not sure I can do that.’ but what I found was that hour soon became something that went so fast every time, spending that time with God, growing closer to Him and spending that time with the Blessed Sacrament can be an amazing thing for us to help us grow in faith to help us grow closer to God and I think when we do that, when we really grow in the love of God and love God with our heart, soul, and mind that carries over to our life and living with others and caring for our neighbors because when we can do that our whole world can become a better place to be.”