Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 14, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We read this gospel yesterday, and through a coincidence of the Sunday and weekday readings, we read it again today. It gives me opportunity to say a little more about love.

I am now 53. When I was a young man in his early 20s, I hit a very rough patch in my life, and I often was tempted to despair. Frankly, I often succumbed to the temptation without putting up any fight. I had had quite a good education for someone my age, but everything I had learned to that point, all this history, philosophy, and classical languages, was nothing the world was much interested in paying to have from me. I was fairly destitute, and I lived in something of a hovel: in fact, I think the government might have condemned the house if officials had had a reason to seek it out. One Friday night, I lay in my bed in the shambles I called home, full of melancholy, utterly disheartened, indulging an immense self-pity.

In the dark of my room, I felt this incredible warmth which was love coming down towards me on my bed. It had a shape, a weight, a force, and a purpose. I knew this shape, this weight, this force, this purpose was God, but I resisted the approach with everything in me. I threw the whole weight of my discouragement at this love which pressed insistently at me. But I was powerless: there was nothing I could do to not be loved. Love’s approach to me was like a man who brushes dust from his jacket. There was no violence; I never lost my freedom; but I couldn’t resist. God’s approach against all the despair I could muster was effortless. What could I do but give up and let love enfold me.

God’s love for you.
God’s love for me.
God’s love for Jesus’ mother.
God’s love for the crack addict in the alley.
God’s love for the hermit in the desert.
God’s love for the male prostitute in the hustler’s bar.
God’s love for the martyr walking to the gallows.
God’s love for the murderer on death row.
God’s love for the baby in the crib.
It is all the same love.

It is profligate and unfailing and gentle and unyielding. God loves all of us exactly the same. God loves everyone, no exceptions. God loves each one as though each one was the only one. God can’t help it: God would not be God if it were not so.

So it must be with us, for as John of Cross wrote, In the evening of our lives, we will be judged on love alone. Love profligately. Love without fail. Love gently. Love without yielding.

Saint of the day: According to Acts 1:15-26, during the days after the Ascension, Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (about 120 of Jesus’ followers). Now that Judas had betrayed his ministry, it was necessary, Peter said, to fulfill the scriptural recommendation: “May another take his office.” “Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22). They nominated two men: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed and drew lots. The choice fell upon Matthias, who was added to the Eleven. Matthias is not mentioned by name anywhere else in the New Testament.

Spiritual reading: The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. (Thomas Merton)


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