Reflections - April 24, 2016

“I give you a new commandment:  love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”  Jn. 13:34.
Jesus this Sunday invites us to love as He has loved us.  The serious question is:  How can we love as Jesus?  We need to love with the same sentiments as Jesus did with forgiveness, tenderness, and compassion.  It is summarized by loving God and your neighbor.
If we briefly look in the Old Testament the Book of Leviticus, God called by their name certain attitudes of hatred, resentment, and revenge.  They were sentiments that denied others and that were not in line with a people chosen among all peoples.  God spoke to His people through a heart He formed, which is why men and women can respond to God and to thy neighbor with love.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.  Lev. 19:18.
I ask you:  Do we love in the first place one another, or do we love if we are loved in return?  That, my dear brothers and sisters, is not to love one another in the first place.  To love another in the first place is to turn the other cheek, like Jesus.
I want to give this example to spouses:  What is the other cheek in spouses?  It is when one spouse comes home from work screaming and angry, the Christian couple, which knows how to forgive, turns the other cheek.  This means that the spouse at home welcomes his or her spouse with affection, sweetness, and with kind words and proceeds to listen in respectful silence.  That is the cold water that calms the fire of the other….That is to love as you love yourself.  It is to recognize in the other “the face of Christ” and to have His same sentiments.
It is not thinking as some do that if I am loved in the community, if my husband loves me, if my children would change, if the Church would change then I love.  We sometimes forget that to love is not a prize, but a gift.  It is grace.  And when we love, “as Christ loves us”, you love despite the fact that my spouse may not love me or my daughter-in-law may not love me……I love always.
“The strength to love as Jesus loves us “ is received in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist.  There are many saints like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Ann Seton, who committed themselves to the practice of justice and charity loving as Christ loves us.  Today Jesus tells us:  You do the same in your community and in your family.