Thursday after Epiphany, January 7
May We Become, to the World Around Us, an Example of Divine Light in Loving One Another as Jesus Loves Each and Every One of Us.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor…” And then Jesus said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Today, as we enter the final days of the Christmas Season, we shift our focus from Jesus’ Birth to the true purpose of His Presence among us: “…to bring glad tidings to the poor…to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…”
We hear in our Scripture Readings today proclamations of the gratuitous nature of God’s Love for each of us – a Love which is freely given – and to which we respond through our own acts of love. For as John tells us in our First Reading, “Beloved, we love God because he first loved us.”
Through our Baptism, you and I have been given “new life” in Christ Jesus. Through our Confirmation, we have been strengthened by the Holy Spirit to live that “new life” in a world, in a society which has oftentimes closed its heart to the Light of this world.
Nourished and sustained by Eucharist, we are each called to give witness to that Divine Light – a Light which invites each of us, regardless of race, color, creed or religious persuasion, to become co-heirs with Jesus Christ for all eternity!
As co-heirs, we are each called to live the Gospel message of love – love for God and love for neighbor. And John makes this message very clear in his Epistle when he writes, “…whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Love is that bonding agent which unites us to God. Pope Emeritus Benedict, in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, which means God is Love, stated, “Love of God and love of neighbor are…inseparable, they form a single commandment…both live from the Love of God who has loved us first.”
And it is only human nature that, when you and I are loved, we feel good inside, and we not only return that love in some form, but we also find ourselves naturally sharing that love with others.
And our Holy Father went on to say, “Love grows through love. Love is ‘Divine’ because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a ‘we’ which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is ‘all in all.’”
And we hear in our First Reading that keeping God’s Commandment of love is not burdensome, for it is love which will conquer the world.
Sadly, however, it is the absence of love which has caused divisions among families, communities and nations. It is the absence of love which has brought about wars and needless death throughout the history of man. And it is the absence of love which has resulted in the riots and mayhem we find in many cities throughout the world today.
As you and I reflect upon our relationship with God and with our neighbor – and our neighbor is each one of us as brothers and sisters in Christ, for we are all adopted children of the same Eternal and Heavenly Father – how do we live out the Commandment of love in our lives?
In our individual journeys which you and I travel on this side of Heaven, we are each called to imitate the life of Christ in the life we live here and now. Created in the image and likeness of God, and by virtue of our Baptism into the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are each called to embrace the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity –
Faith tells us that God has given to each one of us His Son for our sake, so that we may have life and have it to the fullest. And our faith teaches us that our life with God is the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires.
Hope is the virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life as our ultimate happiness, dispelling all fear and despair by placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help and grace of the Holy Spirit.
And charity? Charity is that theological virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves – for the love of God. Our Lord asks you and me to love as He loves, even those we find most difficult to love. And our Lord also asks us to love the poorest of the poor, as if each one was Christ Himself.
Paul writes in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “…if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing…Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” And he ends his dissertation on love by writing, “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
May Jesus – who is our closest and most intimate Friend, our dearest Brother and our saving God – fill each of us with His Spirit of Strengthening, His Spirit of Truth and Love – so that both you and I may become, to the world around us, that example of Divine Light as we reach out and “love one another” as Jesus loves each and every one of us. †
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
- “We love [God] because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18, 21b)
- “…whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20b-21)
- “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts.” (Hosea 6:6)
- “So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
- “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.” (Hebrews 13:1-3)
- “…if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2b)
- “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
- “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Prayer for the Day
“Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful,
so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances,
but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls
and come to their rescue.
“Help me, that my ears may be merciful,
so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs
and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
“Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful,
so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor,
but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
“Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful
and filled with good deeds,
so that I may do only good to my neighbors
and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
“Help me, that my feet may be merciful,
so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor,
overcoming my own fatigue and weariness.
My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
“Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful
so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor.
I will refuse my heart to no one.
I will be sincere even with those who,
I know, will abuse my kindness…
“O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself,Saint Faustina (Diary, § 163)
for You can do all things.”