So there we have it!!
Paragraph 1822 says, “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.”
Remember the Cardinal Virtues?
So now we are doing the Theological Virtues
Jesus makes LOVE the new commandment
Someone asked Jesus, “What is the greatest of all the Commandments?”
And Jesus makes it clear (paraphrasing), “Love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as yourself”
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!
Love is the FULFILLMENT of the Commandments
Have we REALLY taken this in?
There are a couple of things that indicate whether or not love is present
St. John said, “How can we love God, the God we do not see, if we do not love the brother we do see?”
Taking care of those around us is a sign that we are loving God
So how do we know if we love God or not?
Are we loving our neighbor?
Are we striving to love our neighbor?
Paragraph 1823 says, “Jesus makes charity the new commandment. By loving his own ‘to the end,’ he makes manifest the Father’s love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.’ And again: ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’”
Jesus makes a very clear connection between obeying His Commandments and loving God
If we want to have a personal relationship with Jesus, we must strive to obey what He has said
We must strive to obey the Commandments
THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL!!
It is a sign of our love for God and it is a way that we love God
“If you love me, you will keep my Commandments.”
If you do not love me, you will not
Of course, none of us are perfect
We can’t just love God with our desires or our affections
We have to actually love God WITH OUR ACTIONS
How can we love the God we do not see if we do not love the brother we do see?
We have to strive to obey the Lord’s Commandments
This is one of the reasons we have PILLAR 3: LIFE IN CHRIST
Love is not just in the heart
Love MUST be translated into ACTION
We have AFFECTION
We love AFFECTION
We love feeling like we love God
What God is calling us to is EFFECTIVE love
An EFFECTIVE love that moves
It is love that ACTS
It is love that is not just in AFFECTION
It is love that is not just in our hearts
It is love that is not just in our emotions or our feelings
IT IS IN OUR ACTIONS!!
IT IS IN OUR LIVES!!
How do we actually live in Christ?
Ok, love and do what?
If you love God, you want to do what He has asked
It goes even further and this is the massive challenge
We maybe like to overlook this because Jesus makes it very clear that if we are going to love, we are going to love our neighbor
That makes sense
We are going to love the person who is near us
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s story about his friend talking about his neighbor…
Paragraph 1825 says, “Christ died out of love for us, while we were still ‘enemies.’ The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.”
We might like to ignore this
Jesus commands us to love our enemies
It is easy to say
It is difficult to do
We can’t do it without God’s grace
If we do not love our enemies, we are nothing
Paragraph 1825 continues, “The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: ‘charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’”
Paragraph 1826 says, “‘If I…have not charity,’ says the Apostle, ‘I am nothing.’”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
Whatever our privilege is
Whatever our service or virtue is
Whatever we do
If we do miracles
If we do not have charity, we are nothing
This is one of those virtues we cannot exempt ourselves from
This is one of those virtues that we cannot ignore
This is one of those virtues that we cannot pick and choose
This is one of those virtues that we have to strive for
None of us is going to do this perfectly
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s story about Sarah Swafford…
STRIVE AFTER THE LORD
All of us have broken hearts
All of us have broken lives and situations
All of us are going to fall into sin
It is trusting in the Lord to have mercy on us
Loving the Lord and wanting the mercy is the key
Paragraph 1828 says, “The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. He no longer stands before God as a slave, in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who ‘first loved us’...”
How many times do we do this?
Where we approach God with servile fear, where we are afraid of God?
So we do things not because we love anyone but because we want to avoid hell or because we want some reward at the end
We can still follow the Commandments that way
The Christian will STRIVE to be animated by LOVE OF GOD
This is summarized in the Act of Contrition
“Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee. And I detest all of my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all, because they have offended thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to sin no more, to avoid the near occasion of sin, to do a good penance, and amend my life. Amen”
St. Basil says in Paragraph 1828, “If we turn away from evil out of fear and punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages,...we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands…we are in the position of children.”
Fear of punishment is not bad
If we turn away from evil, that is always a good thing
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s story about C.S. Lewis…
“I’ve always had nothing but a mercenary heart, willing to sell my soul to the highest bidder, willing to give my love to the highest bidder.”
There are many times when we choose the good because we don’t want to go to Hell
Or we choose the good because God has promised blessings
Those are not bad things
Those are just not perfect contrition
God is so good and humble that He even accepts our imperfect contrition
The prodigal son is an incredible parable
It’s not just about the son who runs away and comes back because he’s hungry and he is received by the father
It is also about the older son
The younger son goes to live a life of sin and comes back to the father who celebrates him and restores him to his place as a son of the father
What does the older son say?
“Look, all these years I have slaved for you, and you never even gave me a kid to feast on with my friends.”
Imagine the father saying, “I never wanted you to be a slave for me. I just wanted a son.”
If we have this guilt hanging over our heads that God always wants more, then our vision of God is no different than the world because that is what the world wants
The world wants us to simply perform
Our worth is based off of our performance
The Father does not want us to be slaves
The Father wants a son or daughter
The Father wants to be able to work shoulder to shoulder with His child
Not with a slave
The Father was celebrating with the son who returned
The whole community was there celebrating the son’s return
The older son doesn’t want to celebrate with the father or the son who returned
He doesn’t even want a feast
He is stuck in a place of a slave’s heart
His father wants him to be his son and he wants his son to see him as his father
This is the invitation for all of us
Love/charity has to be EFFECTIVE not just affective
Our relationship with the Father is not performative
Is that a contradiction?
How are those two things true at the same time?
It’s not WHAT we do
It is HOW we do it
God calls us to follow His Commandments
God calls us to love our neighbor
He calls us to do it as a son and as a daughter
The father’s vision of life with both of his sons would not be that they are on perpetual vacation and the father takes care of everything
The father wants to work shoulder to shoulder with his family
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike explain this because it’s really dragging on and on and on…I’m so sorry I’m just so tired…
The motivation is working together with God as His beloved child, not as a slave
Not as a mercenary
Does that make sense?
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you at some point in the future…