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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Love as I have Loved You!



LESSON: The New Commandment

The Church, like a good mother, is very wise. She gives us a full seven weeks of Easter season. We need this extended time to reflect on those lessons Christ taught us in his passion and resurrection.

Plants have to spend time outside to gradually absorb the sunlight and transform it into nutrients. Just so, our souls have to spend time basking in the light of Christ's revelation, so that we can absorb the grace God wants to give us.

Today especially, we are reminded of the New Commandment that Christ gave us the day before he suffered.

• We are brought back to that Last Supper, when Jesus was gathered with his closest companions and opened his heart to them.

• It was the night when his heart overflowed with love as it never had before.

• It was the night when he revealed the secret identity of every Christian, the distinguishing mark: "This is how all will know that you are my disciples," he said, "if you have love for one another."

• And not just any kind of love, but Christ-like love: "I give you a new commandment... As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." Being a Christian is much more than being a member of a club. Being a Christian means having an urgent, important mission in life.

• It means being another Christ in the world.

• Jesus gave his very life in order to fulfill his Father's will and win salvation for sinners.

• Each one of us is called to reproduce in the unique circumstances of our lives that exact same pattern: dedicating our lives to discovering and fulfilling God's will, and striving to help as many people as possible know, love, and follow Christ.

ILLUSTRATION: Gandhi's Critique and Chesterton's Quip

Mahatma Gandhi, last century's leader of India's independence movement, received his education in Europe.

• Although he wasn't Christian, he had many opportunities to study Christianity and get to know Christians.

• Later in his life he commented on this experience. He said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

G.K. Chesterton, the famous British convert to Catholicism and great apologist for the faith in the early twentieth century, made a similar statement.

 • He was responding to critics who claimed that since Christianity had been around for so long, but hadn't solved the world's problems, it must be false.

• Chesterton retorted: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

These two quotations remind us of something we already know: too often, too many Christians are satisfied with a mediocre Christianity. But Christ wants more for us.

• He wants to release our full potential as human beings.

• What does that potential consist of? It consists of our capacity to love, to know others as Christ knows them, and to dedicate ourselves to their good.

• Christ knows that if we follow him down that path, we will be truly happy, and we will make those around us truly happy, here on earth and forever in heaven.

How can that happen? It has to start right here - right in our hearts. Christ has already shown us the way. Christ has promised to give us the grace. But none of that will matter unless each one of us makes a firm decision to have one goal in life: to take up the difficult but sure path of knowing, loving, and following Christ. Only then will we have an answer for critics like Gandhi, because only then will we, Christians, become like Christ.

APPLICATION:

Mother Teresa and the Right Idea of Love One thing that can sometimes hold us back in our efforts to follow the Lord's New Commandment is a false idea of what love should feel like.

• We tend to think that true love is always accompanied by nice feelings, and if the feelings go away, that means the love has gone away too.

• That's what radio and TV tell us, but that's not what the Gospel tells us.

• Love, true love, Christ-like love, goes deeper than feelings. It demands sacrifice, self-giving, and self-forgetfulness.

• Christ-like love always involves a cross. That's what makes it Christ-like; that's what makes it true love.

If we can get this truth to sink down from our heads into our hearts, we will be freer to love more as Christ loves, and we will lead happier lives, and make those around us happier. Maybe the words of a real expert in Christ-like love will help convince us of this. Here is a profile of real Christian love from Bl Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

"People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway. 

Why? Because in the final analysis, all of this is between you and God…It was never between you and them anyway."

Today when Jesus comes to renew his commitment to us in Holy Communion, let's ask him to convince us once and for all that Christian love doesn't mean nice feelings, but self-giving, self-forgetting, and going out of our way to help our neighbors, just as he went out of the way to help us

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