Love Others as God Loves
Think about the best love stories that inspired you growing up, be that important role models in your life, great love stories from disney characters. I never could have imagined love and marriage being so great, until we became united in marriage. I heard a very good homily about marriage the other day, where the priest talked of marriage as a man and a wife bringing together their gifts, each something unique into the marriage, helping to support one another in the journey towards sainthood. However, they do not contain all the answers, all of the gifts either, they need the constant love and support of their families, their friends, and their church, in order to live a good marriage. This is not only our home parish, but the love and support of every church, every Catholic who comes to be a part of our community of faith. Think about this in relation to your life journey towards sainthood, and the support you're given each and every day. It's not just your family and parish that support your goals, your life journey, but the universal church in faith. Isn't that an amazing gift of love?
Today’s Gospel states: ‘”This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another”’ (John 15:12-17).
In this Gospel reading, Jesus tells us about how we need to love one another, that our first goal, our primary goal, is to act in love. We start by expressing our love and trust in God, the father and our Creator, and replicate this same love to each other, to our families, the poor. Jesus tells us that in doing these acts of love, God will give us anything we ask for. Now, this doesn't mean God will give us a new tv, a brand new car, a vacation to Hawaii, just for showing a few small acts of love. He means that through these acts of love, through making love a daily part of our everyday lives, we will be filled by everything we could ever hope to need in our lives. Jesus shows us by example, helping the poor, sitting with the tax collector, feeding the thousands, and especially through dying on the cross and bearing the nails. There is no greater focus in life than to take every opportunity we can to respond in love, which we see replicated in the sacrament of marriage between a husband, wife, and the universal church. If you've ever wondered why the church uses the expression of the bride and bridegroom, as spoken of by Saint Paul in Ephesians (the church and Christ), this is why, as it relates to the greatest visual we have for love, Christ dying for us, the church, on the cross. In the same way, a married couple sacrifices out of love for one another each and every day, while also for their community. Do you make sacrifices out of love, with nothing to gain, as Christ did for us on the cross? Take some time to ask God to help you replicate this act of love and to make sacrificial acts of love for other people as your primary duty as a disciple in faith.
Today's prayer comes from 'prayers to change your life' a prayer for loving God and all people:
Holy Spirit, because God loves us so much, help us to love our neighbor. We have never seen God, but if we love each other, we know that God will live in us and His love will be brought to full expression in us. Holy Spirit, we do not want to grieve You by the way we live. You are the One who has identified us as Your own, guaranteeing that we will be saved on the day of redemption. In this season of reflection and repentance, help us to let go of any bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, help us to be kind to all people, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven us. Break any bondage(s) that is keeping us from loving and caring for people. Help us as a Church Family to draw closer to God, our Father, and Jesus, our Lord, through loving each other. Holy Spirit, heal broken relationships. Amen.