During this month of June, the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us ask of our good Lord to share His Divine Mercy with us!
This Sunday is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. This weekend I share with a message centered on the love for God. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week: Love for God: God alone must be loved absolutely and unconditionally. Upright human affections are raised and ennobled when we love God above all other loves. Over and over again Jesus teaches us that God has to be the principal object of our love. We just love creatures in a secondary, subordinate way. In the Gospel of the Holy Mass (Matt. 10:37-42) He tells us in words that leave no room for doubt: He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And He continues: He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. God alone is to be loved absolutely and unconditionally. Everyone and everything else is to be loved by us in the measure in which they are loved by God. Our Lord teaches us true love. He asks us to love family and neighbor, but not even these loves should we put before the love of God, which must always be given an overriding priority. All other earthly loves are enriched, purified and encouraged to grow when we love God. Our heart expands and our capacity for loving increases. We find ourselves able to overcome all the obstacles and limitations of self-centeredness that are present in all of us creatures. The pure loves of this
life are raised and ennobled still more when we love God first and most of all.
To love God the way He wants us to love Him, we have to go so far as to lose our own life, that of the old man. We have to die to those disordered tendencies which incline and induce us to sin. We must die to that sometimes brutal egocentricity which leads man to seek himself in everything he does. (cf. R. Garrigou-Lagrange, Three Ages of the Interior Life) God wants us to preserve all that is healthy and upright and truly human in our nature, all that is good and humanly characteristic in each unique individual. Nothing genuinely human, of the positive, of the perfectible, will be lost. The life of grace will permeate the whole of man’s nature and elevate it. In this way the personality of the Christian who loves God is richly enhanced. The more a man dies to his selfish ego, the more truly human he becomes, and so much the better is he prepared for supernatural life.
The Christian who struggles to deny himself finds he is living a new life, the life of Jesus. Grace respects what is characteristic in each one of us at the same time as it transforms us, so that we come to have the same attitudes and sentiments that Christ Himself has concerning men and events. Seeing things as He does, we begin to imitate His deeds. In this way a new, simple, natural behavior is born in us, encouraging us to be better. We are filled with the same desires as Christ: our one objective becomes that of fulfilling the Will of the Father. That, then, is the real expression of love and its clearest manifestation. Remaining what he is, by the help of grace, the Christian becomes identified with Jesus in so far, paradoxically, as he divests himself of himself. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, says Saint Paul. (Phil. 1:21-23)
Love of God cannot be taken for granted. If we do not nurture and take care of it, it dies. On the other hand, difficulties set it ablaze and confirm us in it if our will holds steadfastly in God. Love of God is nourished in prayer and in the reception of the Sacraments, in the constant struggle against our defects, in the unceasing effort to maintain a living presence of God throughout the whole of our working day, in our relations with others, in our times of rest . The Eucharist above all must be the spring at which our love of God is perpetually refreshed and strengthened. In a way, to love thus is already to possess Heaven on earth.
There is no limit or measure to the love of God.
The Christian is raised to the order of grace so that he loves with the love of God Himself, which is given to him as an ineffable gift. (cf. 1 John 4:2) This is the essence of charity. The Christian receives it first at baptism. He can prepare himself for its augmentation through prayer, the sacraments and good deeds.
This love of God is infused in the Christian’s soul. It should be the rule of all his actions. Just as the objects we make are judged to be finished and perfect insofar as they conform to the preconceived plans to which we work, so any human action will be upright and virtuous if it conforms to the divine rule of love. If it departs from it, it will not be good or perfect. (St. Thomas, On the Double Precept of Charity, Prologue) All our deeds can be weighed and measured by this rule because the soul in grace does not receive Divine Love as something foreign to it. Charity does not destroy. It brings order, imposing on its recipient that unity of love which is so characteristic of the love of God. Hence it perfects and elevates our will.
Charity, with which we love God, and in God we love our neighbor, comes to fruition precisely to the extent that we use it. The more we love, the greater capacity we have for loving. And if it (i.e. love) does not possess completely what it loves, it cannot help being weary, in proportion to the absence of that which is not possessed… Until this possession be achieved, the soul is like an
empty vessel waiting to be filled, or like a hungry man craving food, or like a sick person sighing wretchedly for health, or like one suspended in the air with nothing to lean on. (St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 9:6) There is no limit or measure to God’s love. He expects us to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul and all our mind. (cf. Matt. 22:37-38)
We can always grow in love of God. He tells His children, each one individually, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued My faithfulness to you. (Jer. 31:3)
We pray to God to convince us that there is only one Absolute Love, and that this Love is the source of all upright, noble loves. He who loves God will love all of God’s creatures more and better. It is easy to love some; with others it is more difficult. We do not find them attractive, they have offended us or have done us wrong. Only if I love God seriously can I love other creatures as His children, and because He has commanded me. Jesus has also established how we are to love our neighbor - not with feelings alone, but with deeds… I was hungry in the person of the least of my brothers. Did you give Me to eat? Did you visit Me when I was sick? (John Paul II, General Audience, 27 September 1978) Did you help Me to carry the burden when it was too heavy for Me to carry it alone? To love our neighbor in God is not to go about by a long and circuitous route in order to love Him. Love of God is a short-cut to our brothers. Only in God can we really understand and love all men, immersed even as they are in their errors and we in ours, and in spite of those things that humanly speaking would tend to separate us from them or lead us to pass them by without a glance in their direction.
How the love of God is shown. Our love of God is merely a response to His love. He loved us first. (1 John 4:19) Ours is the love God places in our souls so that
we too are able to love. That is why we ask Him, Lord, give me the love with which You want me to love You.
We correspond with the love of God when we love others; when we see in them the dignity proper to the human person, made as it has been in the image and likeness of God, created with an immortal soul and called to give glory to God for all eternity. Love is to approach that wounded man we come across on our journey each day; it is to bind up his wounds, restore him to health and take care of him in all things. (cf. Luke 10:30-37) We must exert ourselves on his behalf, making a serious effort in order to bring him to God. Separation from God is always the greatest of evils, and those thus separated from Him are in need of our help and our urgent attention. Apostolate is a wonderful sign of our love for God, and is the way to love Him more.
Love is frequently shown by a response of gratitude. To illustrate this, Our Lord relates the parable of the debtors. Having done so, He asks Simon the Pharisee which of the two debtors He has spoken about would love their generous creditor the more. (cf. Luke 7:42) Jesus uses the verb to love here as a synonym for to be grateful. In this way He shows us wherein lies the essence of the affection man owes to his principal creditor, God. Etymology also helps to throw light on the deep meaning of the Eucharist; Eucharist in its derivation is thanksgiving for the gift of Love which the Blessed Sacrament itself conveys to us. We correspond with the love of God when we fight against everything that separates us from Him. We need to struggle every day, if only in little things. We shall always come up against obstacles that stand between us and God: defects of character, selfishness, laziness that would prevent us from finishing our work well…
We love God when our whole life is an unceasing search for Him. It is sometimes said that not only does God not seek us, but can hide Himself from us so that we should seek Him. In fact, we have not far to look. We can find him in our work, in our family, in our joys and our sorrows… He asks us for our affection. He places in our heart the desire to seek Him, and constantly encourages us in our search. If we could only understand how much God loves us! If we could only say with Saint John: So we know and believe the love God has for us! (1 John 4:16) If we could, it would be much simpler and easier for us to love Him as we ought. Our whole life has to become this constant seeking after Jesus, in good times and in those that seem bad, in our work and in our leisure, in the street and in the bosom of the family. This quest is the only one that can give meaning to our lives. We cannot carry out this task of ours alone. Let us go to Mary and beseech her, Mother, do not leave me! Let me seek your Son, let me find your Son, let me love your Son - with my whole being. Remember me, my Lady, remember me. (J. Escriva, The Forge, 157) Teach me to hold fast to Him as my first Love, He whom I love for Himself, absolutely, above all other loves. What am I to Thee, Lord, that thou should’st command me to love Thee; yea, and be angry and threaten to lay huge miseries upon me if I love Thee not? Is it perhaps of itself no great misery if I do not love Thee? (St. Augustine, The Confessions, I, 5, 5) (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may God grant us the grace of a great desire to know and love Jesus!
In Christ through Mary,
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