Friday, March 29
Let Us Pray Daily for the Strength and for the Grace to Love Each Other as God Would Have Us Love, So That His Kingdom May Truly Reside within Each and Every One of Us.
In today’s Gospel, we hear – “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” At Jesus’ words, a hush fell over the crowd. “And no one dared to ask him any more questions.”
Jesus was accustomed to scribes and Pharisees approaching him with questions about the Law. They prided themselves in the knowledge of the Mosaic Law and its ritual requirements. They made it a life-time practice to study its six hundred and thirteen precepts, along with the numerous rabbinic commentaries.
Jesus often used these questions as an opportunity to respond with a parable or teaching that challenged His questioners’ assumptions, to the point of even uncovering their hypocrisy. But this time, Jesus said something completely unexpected. What was different?
Jesus saw that this man already had some understanding of what the Mosaic Law truly taught. Even though we don’t know much about this scribe, his words demonstrate that he must have had some personal experience of the utter uselessness of empty sacrifice and hollow lip-service.
It is possible that this scribe had experienced what the prophet Hosea described in our First Reading today – healing and love from a God who forgives sins. As a result, he may have come to understood that loving God and neighbor was his highest goal, that loving God and others actually fulfilled not only the letter, but also the spirit of the Law.
And it is this spirit of the Law which guides each of us in our love for God and all that He asks of us, a love which calls both you and me into that special relationship with our Creator, not unlike a truly loving relationship between bride and bridegroom, in which both vow loving fidelity to each other.
No matter what our faith persuasion may be, it is Christ who becomes the Eternal Bridegroom and we, as members of the Body of Christ, become His bride.
And no matter how many times we might become unfaithful in our relationship with Him, God is always faithful to us, and always willing to forgive a truly contrite and repentant heart, and embrace us once again as our loving and faithful Spouse.
And we see this relationship in our First Reading, for we are given a picture of a nurturing and loving God as our Father who is awaiting the return of His wayward children, and who is ready to forgive them –
“I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them” – not unlike our Loving Father awaiting the return of His prodigal children, and ready to forgive all our iniquities and shortcomings, and also willing to lavish gifts upon each of us as His beloved – the gift of grace, the gift of Himself in Sacrament, and the gift of eternal life.
Our Readings today revolve around the word “love” – a word which, for some people, is oftentimes so elusive. We look at the world today in which we live and what do we see? – war, hatred, greed, hunger, disease, homelessness, broken marriages – a rather sorry display of a genuine lack of love on the part of so many people in today’s cultures.
Our recent Holy Father, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, wrote a Lenten message in 2007 about God’s Love – agape and eros. Today’s Readings speak to us about the nature of agape (pronounced Ah-gah-pay). Our Holy Father explained that agape is “the self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other.”
In other words, the love which God holds for each of us and which we are asked to give back to Him is undoubtedly agape – a desire for God to be near to His beloved, His spouse, His children.
And for us, it is a desire to be near to the God who created us, who knitted us in our “mother’s womb,” as it is written in the 139th Psalm. It is a desire to be near to the God who has given us the gift of life and who has given us a share in His own Divine Nature – our immortal soul.
It is a desire to be near to the God who sacrificed His Only-Begotten Son out of His immeasurable Love for each of us, so that you and I might have life and have it to the fullest.
Jesus is explaining to this scribe, who is seeking righteousness in his own life, God’s expectations of him and us in regards to this concept of agape – love God with all our heart, and love our neighbor as ourselves – putting the love of God and the needs of others before our own.
A unique concept? – by no means! But it is a concept that seems elusive in the lives of many, wherein selfishness, ego and “what feels good is ok” is part of the thinking and way of life for many people – and this is where they are at odds with God’s Law of selfLESS love.
As a Christian people, we are asked to live this love in our lives, even when it seems difficult. Sometimes our neighbors are not always so neighborly, finding patience in a grocery line where there always seems to be some trouble at the register, being stuck in traffic making us late for an important appointment, being insulted or ridiculed for the way we think, the way we dress, or the way we act.
There are so many countless ways in which our lives are tested, so many ways in which the love we are asked to show others is oftentimes strained and stretched to its limits.
During this time of Lent, let us remember – and never forget – the ultimate Agape, the ultimate self-sacrificing Love – when Christ, the innocent Victim, offered Himself up as the Sacrificial Lamb for each one of us, when He willingly stretched out His arms, so that we may have a share in His Eternal Life.
Let us pray daily for the strength and for the grace to love each other as God would have us love, so that the His Kingdom may truly reside within each and every one of us.
Our Lord showed us from Calvary what it truly means to love selflessly, and we are each called to do no less! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them.” (Hosea 14:5)
- “Jesus replied, ‘The first is this: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”’” (Mark 12:29-30)
- “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)
- “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew.” (Psalm 139:13-14)
- “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9-10)
- “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” (1 John 4:11-12)
- “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
- “This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
- “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
Prayer for the Day
“Eternal and Most Loving Father,
I submit my entire self to Your Holy will.
All that I am today, transform me into Your servant,
living Your Truth amongst my brothers and sisters.
“Thank You for imbuing me with Your Holy Spirit,
who guides me to live a life of righteousness,
enabling me to be all that You desire me to be,
so that I may give my best in service to Your children.
“Forgive me for my past failures,
rejecting the image of Christ in those around me.
In selfishness, I held back Your Love
and fell short in living the virtue of charity.
“Fill my heart with humility,
so that I may always fulfill Your will,
imitating the life of Your Son, Jesus,
giving love without counting the cost.
“In Jesus’ Name, I pray for this grace
for the glory of Your Divine Majesty,
in the Presence of the Holy Spirit,
and for the well-being of my soul for all eternity. Amen.”Anonymous