I’ve found myself driving a lot lately, and have you ever been driving along, windows down, enjoying the breeze and the fresh air of summer, all is just happy and nice and pleasant. And then all of the sudden into the car wafts an odor of such indescribable wretchedness that just instantly consumes you. Some dead animal or skunk or Lord knows what that can almost instantly derail an otherwise delightful experience.
That’s the image that came to mind with our Second Reading today. Paul talks about the fragrant aroma that comes from living a life of sacrificial and self-giving love of God. Tomorrow we have a wonderful reminder of that sweetness when we Baptize a child here once again. We are reminded of our own Baptism when that fragrant Sacred Chrism was placed on our heads – conforming us to Jesus forever.
There’s nothing we can ever do to lose that sweetness. No sin of ours is ever capable of removing it. But we are able to mask it sometimes, to temporarily overpower it just like driving by that skunk.
To use the language of St. Paul, when we do things that grieve the Holy Spirit. When we are consumed with bitterness; when we allow fury and anger to govern our thoughts and actions; when we shout and revile one another – cursing one another in our words or perhaps even more so with our thoughts; when we live in malice and resentment and harbor nastiness – all the times we put ourselves before Jesus, put ourselves before others. That kinda stuff stinks. Bigtime.
And Paul tells us the remedy – how to live the sweet aroma of the life we are all called to. Be kind to one another. Compassionate to one another, even when we think people don’t deserve it. Forgive one another – always, everywhere, with no attempt at justifying why someone isn’t worthy of our forgiveness – because God has forgiven us in our unworthiness, so we are to forgive others. Always. That is the sweetness we are called to.
My brothers and sisters, we would all do well, especially as we get ready for our feast day next week, to spend some time in prayer this week with our Second Reading – that our lives might be fragrant aromas of God’s unreserved love, and not the other stuff. God help us all. +