Wednesday, January 6, 2016


In tomorrow's first reading there is a challenging statement by the John the Evangelist: If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.   Love is often a challenge isn't it? God has revealed to us in Jesus Christ that it is the very nature of God.  The Catechism of the Catholic church phrases it like this: God's very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.  (CCC 221)  Doesn't it make your heart sing to know that God has trusted you with a secret?  A secret that he expects you to share with others and not keep to yourself? 

That's the funny thing about love.  It's kind of like water that we try to hold on to with just our hand.  Sure we might get a puddle to stay for a while, but eventually it's going to drain out in the cracks.  The thing about this water though is the more of it we give away.. the more of it we find.  It's only when we give it away that it becomes love.  Love is never about self.  It's always about other.  That is the gift of the trinity, the beauty of it... the image of an eternal sharing of love... that was so great and vast that it poured out into the universe to create us.  It still calls to us with every breath saying, "I love you." 

The Word became flesh so to be our model of holiness (CCC 459). Jesus in the Gospel reading begins to read from a scroll a prophet from Isaiah.  In it he declares an outpouring of God's grace and mercy, he declares that the passage has been fulfilled right in front of them.  That God has given us what we need to receive forgiveness, liberty and justice.  All of it, right there in Christ himself.  He is the very model of the Beatitudes himself, and challenges that all of the Law and the Prophets hinges on just one thing: Love one another as I have loved you.  Jesus modelled love.  He loved so strongly, so fully.. that he went to his death for us. Love is not just a word.. it's an action.

That brings us to the question: who is our brother?  Let us take the example of Christ himself and ask, what do we know about who he loved?  "God so loved the world."  Just as in the parable of the Good Samaritan, our brother is not just the one we choose.  Jesus did not go to the cross for just the Catholic or the Jew, he did not go for just the sinner or the saint, he did not go for just the believer or the atheist... he went for all.  He gave himself up for every single person, and that my friends is the challenge.. that is our brother.

The citizen and the immigrant.  The refugee and the comfortable.  The ignorant and the knowledgable.  Yes, our challenge is to love everyone.  Pope Francis released a new video just recently that expresses it better than I ever could.

How about you?  ¡Creo en el amor, tambien!  I believe in love, as well.  Now comes the hard part.  Do you live that love?  John reminds us that For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.  That means following the rules.  Obeying them.  They are a guard rail.  Not a wall.  You can go outside of them if you want, but that means not only that you are putting yourself in danger.. but that you are saying "I don't love you God."  It means loving that person who really gets on your nerves.   That one who doesn't necessarily loving you back.   It means reaching out to the widow, the orphan, and the alien.  We often forget that one don't we?  The widow and the orphan people are quick to pipe up and help.  We start talking about the Alien, the refugee, the immigrant, the illegal. Oh that changes things doesn't it?   God declared that we should be kind to the alien.  We should be generous to them.  We should take care of them and help them as well.  They deserve dignity and justice just as much as you and I do.

We have work to do.  Every day at Mass we pray, "thy will be done, thy kingdom come."  That doesn't mean that we sit back on our hands and wait.  Love is an action.  It means giving up yourself.  It means sacrificing yourself.  For them.  For the other.  It's not about "doing something for myself because someone has to."  That's ego.  No, it's doing something for the other.. even if they don't appreciate it.  Even if they don't say thanks.  Even if they recognize it or realize you've even done it. 

We are the body of Christ.  This week find something to do for someone else.  Something that they don't know that you even did.  Send a letter.  A gift.  Bring up a trash can.  Shovel some snow.  Not to be noticed.  Feed someone. Make a difference.  Not to be seen.  Just out of pure love. Then we can truly say that our right hand, didn't know what our left was doing. 

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease. "