THE ULTIMATE TEST OF LOVE

Clergy Corner by Fr. Robert Falabella

“WHOEVER LOVES FATHER OR MOTHER MORE THAN ME IS NOT WORTHY OF ME, AND WHOEVER LOVES SON OR DAUGHTER MORE THAN ME IS NOT WORTHY OF ME; AND WHOEVER DOES NOT TAKE UP HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW ME, IS NOT WORTHY OF ME. WHOEVER FINDS HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT, AND WHOEVER LOSES HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE, WILL FIND IT.”

In this passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew 10:37…, it is divinely revealed that putting God first in our lives, far from lessening our ability to love and be happy, actually assures us of a dimension of love that transcends what the “world” can deliver, since the world -- no matter how intoxicated with physical life -- is ever encumbered by the Damoclean Sword of “physical death,” which steals away forever whatever that love entailed, while loving in the love of Christ, who came forth from the tomb with His eternally glorified Body, enables “our love” to share in the eternal dimension of “Christ’s love,” as it is intrinsically found in the eternal God-head Itself.

This passage of Scripture can be used to help us gauge what really are the priorities in our life, as we apply it to the various decisions we have to make each day of our lives. The key question: are those decisions consistent with Christ Jesus’ life and teachings? A typical challenge to one’s integrity of faith can be demonstrated in the example of adult children actually   loving father or mother more than Jesus, and thus not worthy of Jesus. For example: Non-practicing Catholic parents visit their children, who, in order to please their parents, choose to miss Sunday Mass so as to be with them in a social gathering with their parent’s non-believing friends.

A common example of Catholic parents loving son or daughter more than Jesus is especially found where the son or daughter has left the Church, and chose a so called same sex marriage-arrangement, and expect their parents to be present at the ceremony, as proof that the parents love them -- even though they know that, for the parents to do so, would be placing the   children’s values before the God the parents purportedly love and believe in. The parents will say: “We do not agree with this ceremony, but we    always will love you” -- which clearly manifest God’s merciful love for these children. While refraining from being present at this “secular-created ceremony,” the parent’s presence at the ensuing party would not be a cause of scandal. Unfortunately, some children give an ultimatum to the parents: “If you do not attend the wedding ceremony, then your so-called love has no meaning. You are putting your love of this imaginary God before us.” In effect, these children, while disrespecting the religious belief of the parents, demand the parents respect their secular belief. Nonetheless, the parents continue to love and pray for their children, in spite of the children’s hostile attitude.

However, when parents and children give God first place in their love, far from this lessening their love for each other, their mutual God-centered love takes on an eternal value -- transcending this temporal life -- since it will be enriched not with a passing world’s love, ending at death, but rather encompassed with the eternal love of Christ.

In this Church year of Mercy, God’s Mercy is further revealed in those parents who continue loving their children with the love of God, while in no way participating in a ceremony that mocks and disdains the will of God, as set forth in Holy Scripture: “God created man in his image…male and female he created them…(blessing) them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply…”(Genesis 1:27-28). “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Genesis 2:24). It is for this reason that attending any same-sex ceremony, manifests capitulation to a secular faith that speaks “other than God” -- and thus misleading those unbelievers to think that what they are doing is morally right, when in actuality it mocks God and his creation -- as they sinfully pretend to make God in their own image and demand we do so, or be ostracized since we are unacceptable to their worldly values.

Such painful confrontations for Christian followers of Christ can be described as a “personal cross,” with our cross especially embracing those whom we love deeply. Jesus in His Passion, wept over the Jerusalem that rejected Him, and so our own loved ones can become “our Jerusalem.”

Finally, Jesus reminds us that “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” There are many ways of “losing one’s life” for Jesus. In the case of the above-mentioned real life examples, their martyrdom will not be a wet one of blood but a dry martyrdom -- that is, those who have chosen to follow Jesus UNCONDITIONALLY, WITHOUT RATIONALIZING AWAY His teachings when inconvenient, and thus choose “to enter by the narrow gate.” These will find themselves ostracized by their own “who have chosen to go “through the wide gate” (Matthew 7:13-14) -- all of which reveals the meaning of Jesus’ words in “losing one’s life for His sake,” these faithful ones “will find it” -- that is, discover what it means to be TRULY LOVED by someone. “TRULY” signifies a love that helps to prepare you and those you love for that eschatological moment of God’s universal judgment of the living and the dead -- the living being those who have retained the image of God in their souls during this life on earth by humble faithfulness to ALL of God’s Commandments; and the dead are those who have chosen, while in this life, to be in the image of “other than God” -- whoever or whatever that may be.

If, however, you love with the love of Christ, be prepared to suffer. Recall the words of Jesus: “They have persecuted me; they will persecute you” (John 15:20). “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven…” (Matthew 5:11). (For) “…In my father’s house are many mansions…and…I go to prepare a place for you… and…I will come again, and will take you to myself, that where I am, you also will be…”(John 14:1-3). (For) “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete…” (John 15:12), for “…eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Tags: Fr. Robert, Clergy Corner
 

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