Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
This afternoon a coworker and I were discussing the reality of why we do what we do. I mused on this further as I drove home this afternoon, realizing more and more the depth and truth of these words. I did not go to Mass today, and I had not yet read the readings...until now. Yet I am not surprised that the Gospel reading for today matches our topic of today's random discussion, for that happens all the time. The Holy Spirit is always close and guides us even in the small things.
Funny how the small things, though, are really the big things in the metaphysical sense of the word.
We live our lives in accordance with the love we have for God. It all flows from Him. He is our source, He is our font, He is our goal. All comes from Him, and all is ultimately reflected back to Him.
We do not love our neighbor because we necessarily find our neighbor to be pleasant. We love our neighbor because we love God, and thus our actions towards our neighbors are a natural overflow from the love we give to God. He is like a fountain; He pours His love out upon us, and we must be open to receive it. In fact, we seek to return that love, which results in a massive overflow that must go SOMEWHERE, and because God loves us all, our overflow cascades upon others. We see only God...but our neighbor benefits.
All passions are tamed when we consider that God is our only audience. All trials become easy when we realize God has gone there before us and beckons us onward. All things become bearable when we understand that we carry only the tiniest burden. Our lives are only dust, even tiny motes in God's eyes...and yet in the context of love we realize that if we are dust motes in God's eyes, we are jewels in His presence for eternity.
The Daytime Prayer for today carried this message:
Law finds its fulfillment in love.
But what is love? Our world knows little about love. In California today, they declared marriage to be legal between same-sex couples. That's not love. That's indulgence, profanity, blasphemy and insanity. It's completely contrary to the natural order of things.
The Law of this world and the Law of God often clash in such ways, and we can only truly find our freedom in following God's Law, which has its foundation and result in Love, which is God Himself.
True love is contrary to self-seeking and personal preference. It is wholly sacrificial, it overflows from the virtue of humility, asking us only to take a back seat so that God can do His work. There is no room for anger or envy when one's focus is God. There is no room for dissent, as love wholly focuses on the other. Good is defined through the actions and definitions of God, not our own relative opinions. Love is objective; our distortion of love causes the blindness of dissent.
EVENING PRAYER, Romans 12:9-12
Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good. Love one another with the affection of brothers. Anticipate each other in showing respect. Do not grow slack but be fervent in spirit; he whom you serve is the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient under trial, persevere in prayer.
Sincerity is fully lacking in our world today. We are a lost people, but not a people without hope. And we may even find joy in our impending sufferings, as all of us who truly seek God's face will be put to the test in union with the cross of Christ; the ultimate message of Love's victory over Death.
Something is coming. Trials we have never before experienced in this country will befall us, and our only recourse will be to find refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus as we accept the martyrdom of the Cross. If we do not go to our crosses with a sense of sacrifice on behalf of those who hate us, we will not find our Lord waiting on the other side. What must define us is love, a love that requires us to die to ourselves in order to live for others.
It was Jesus who revealed this true meaning of love...are we willing to even try to live up to it?