Friday, February 5, 2010

Authentic Love

With Valentine's Day drawing near, it is probably a good time to write on the topic of love--not romantic love, authentic love. The kind of love that has no end. Also, picking up from my last blog "Does God Really Exist?" it is a good time to talk about what makes us a Christian since it deeply involves love as well.

I am sure if you are reading this blog that you do believe that God exists. I am also pretty sure that you believe that Jesus Christ exists too. This, unfortunately, doesn't really make us a "Christian." Why? So did Satan.

What constitutes being a Christian? Generally speaking, holding to Christ's teaching and loving him enough to obey him. And praying to him and asking for forgiveness when you have failed (i.e. having a relationship with Christ).

  • John 8:31: "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples."

  • John 14:15: "If you love me, you will obey what I command"

Does doing good things for people who are good to you (family and friends) make you a Christian? While it certainly displays kindheartedness, read what Christ says about this:

  • Luke 6:33: "And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that."

Jesus also wants us to help the poor and unfortunate. God gave us two hands, one for receiving and the other for giving. Read Matthew 25:

  • Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Jesus taught us a lot about love when someone asked him which is the greatest commandment:

  • Matthew 22:36-39:"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Love God Above All

This is why our priorities in life should be: 1) God, 2) Spouse, 3) Children, 4) Career. When these priorities are out of order, expect disharmony in your life. Trust me, I have experienced this myself and seen it in other couples lives. Jobs come and go, children eventually grow up and leave the nest, careers hopefully end in retirement but your spouse is someone you've made a lifetime covenant with.

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Loving your neighbor is the second greatest commandment. Who is your neighbor? Everyone.

If you love your neighbor as yourself, you want the best and greatest thing for that person: that is heaven and eternal life. You also wish for them to find love and happiness. God is love (see 1 John 4:16) and God is the source and summit of real sustained happiness. Things of this world only provide short-lived happiness. You will keep wanting more and more things, but you will find as many have, that you cannot substitute the happiness and love you get from the Lord.

We fail to love our neighbor when we don't take a stand on political issues that leads others away from God's love and mercy such as abortion and gay marriage.

Did you know that the woman in the famous court case Roe vs Wade that legalized abortion is 100% Pro-Life today?

Yes, Norma McCorvey (aka Jane Roe) is now totally against abortion and is a vocal member of the Pro-Life movement. She also turned away from a lesbian lifestyle and is now a converted Catholic. As a surprise to many, she also never had an abortion but was used politically by feminist abortion activists. Here is a link to many interviews and articles about her: Click HERE

McCorvey found like many, God is love and God is the truth. When we run from the truth, we run from God's Love and Mercy. Norma McCorvey wrote a book about her life experience, titled "Won By Love"

Our Failure To Love

We fail to love anytime we confirm someone in their sin by silence or approval. We should love the sinner and hate the sin.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines our obligation.

CCC 1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

  1. by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
  2. by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
  3. by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
  4. by protecting evil-doers.

Being a Christian means following Christ and helping build his Kingdom on earth and leading others away from traps set by Satan.

Jesus didn't say: "Come follow me and I will make you oblivious to sin."

Jesus said:

Matthew 4:19: "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

And when you take a stand on these issues, expect to be hated. Jesus warned us:

  • John 15:18-19: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

Do Not Judge?

When you take a stand on the above issues, expect to hear the "Do not Judge" or "He who is without sin, cast the first stone" arguments. This is sometimes the brilliance of Satan. The bible tells us that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) but Satan hopes to confine us as slaves to sin. Satan is the master deceiver who wants to exchange the truth for a lie. "Do not Judge" is used by Satan as "Do not Love."

When Jesus said "Do not Judge, or you will be judged" he really meant not judge (condemn) anything before its time and not to be hypocritical (committing the same sin but judging others who commit it). See Romans 2:1.

God will judge everyone on judgment day, not man. However, we do know what the bible says about who will not inherit the Kindgom of Heaven (See: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21). And we certainly should call sin as a sin and try to lead ourselves and others away from it and grow in holiness. If we hold eachother accountable, we will all grow in holiness.

When Jesus said, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone" he made this comment about a woman caught in the act of adultery to the Pharisees who were ready to stone her to death. And even then, after he saved the woman from the stoning, he said to her: "Go and sin no more."

Jesus said for us to judge with righteous judgment.

  • John 7:24: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Greatest Example of Love

What is the greatest example of Love?

  • Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • 1 John 3:16: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Christ laid down his life for us in the most brutal and humilating fashion. Why? Because of sin and so that sins may be forgiven and also so that he could understand our pain and suffering. What is the depth of your faith and how much do you really love your neighbor if you don't try to lead others away from sin?

Fortunately, we don't have to be nailed on a cross and die for anyone. All we have to do is help give the world life. Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). We can give life by taking a stand for Christ in the world and in the voting booth.

And those closest to us, to speak the truth in love to help set the captives free:

  • Romans 6:6: For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.
  • John 8:31-32: To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

There is no end to God's love, only many beginnings

I love you all,

© Michael J. Cox

Fr. John Corapi in the Archdiocese of St. Louis