Love and Forgiveness

We live in a world of feelings.  People do whatever they feel is right, and condemn whatever they feel is wrong or offensive.  Nowadays, love means a good feeling you have for someone or something.  It means letting someone do whatever they want because anything else would be hateful.  What a radical turn from the love Jesus expressed during His ministry.

250617_158293930987024_1619207592_nThe Gospel says that “God is Love”.  Since God is perfect, He can never be imperfect, or un-loving.  So if we look at the life of Jesus, we’ll only see examples of love.  We can see obvious examples that anyone would recognize.  He multiplied the loaves and fish to feed His starving followers.  He cured the sick and raised the dead.  And of course, His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, the ultimate act of love.  But then there are times when Jesus seems to not be so loving.  Remember when Jesus went to the temple and flipped all of the tables and fashioned a whip out of cords and drove the traders out?  That doesn’t seem like love in the way our culture usually sees it.  But I hold on to the fact that Jesus can only love, since God is love, or more accurately, love is God.

What do all of these examples have in common?  Not all of them are associated with just good feelings.  None of them involve letting someone do whatever the heck they want.  But they all happen because Jesus genuinely wishes the good for each and every person on Earth.  He would only do corporal works of mercy because He wishes that person to live a good life, and He died on the cross because He wants everyone to have a shot at Eternal Salvation.  He drove the money-changers out because they were making the temple, the most holy place in the world to the Jews, a market.  That would be like someone trying to set up a Taco Bell in your church.  Of course your going to get upset about it!  Not only are they making worship impossible for people trying to get to Mass, but they are also getting this idea that the House of God isn’t important enough to not have a trading market.  They need to be shown that it is indeed extremely important, and that is what Jesus did.  Jesus showed us that Love is not just a feeling, it is genuinely wishing the good for that person.  With that in mind, I can honestly say that I love each and every one of you reading this.

And of course, there is Paul’s famous First Corinthians 13: Love is patient, love is kind, etc.  I think we should also study this passage to better understand love.

Love is patient.  Sometimes, my siblings will turn into 7 little Jack-Jacks from the Incredibles movie.  You’ll have to watch it, I can’t really describe it.  But love wouldn’t freak out and start throwing pillows at them (which I may or may not do from time to time).  Love would not lose its temper, and calm things down.  Also, sometimes the thing someone needs the most is for you to listen to them.  That takes patience too.  I remember an elderly man I used to visit with my local Legion of Mary.  He was the coolest guy I’ve ever met.  But sometimes, all he would do is sit and tell us stories for like an hour.  You should have seen how happy he was that he had someone to talk to.  Sometimes it took patience, but that is all in the business of love.

Love is kind.  Love goes out of its way to help someone.  Love volunteers to do corporal works of mercy.  Love cleans its room without be told to.  I have to admit, I’m not so advanced in this category.  Jesus was though.  He would eat dinner with sinners, heal the sick, and talk to tax collectors (If you’ve never seen the Bible Series on History channel, watch the clip of Matthew’s conversion).  Today, go out of your way to be nice to someone.

Love is not Jealous.  Love isn’t jealous of what someone else has.  Since I do not own a phone, sometimes I’m jealous that everyone, literally everyone except me has one.  Love would be glad for them, and rejoice that they have been blessed with a comfortable lifestyle.

Love is not Boastful or Arrogant.  Love doesn’t brag about how good they are compared to someone else.  It doesn’t think that its better or worth more than anyone else.  Love is humble.  Love is like an angel: It can fly because it takes itself lightly.  Love is like GK Chesterton when he responded to the question “What is wrong in the world?”.  His response was the shortest out of all the famous authors that answered.  He simply said ” Dear sirs, I am.”  So, be humble, just like love.

Love is not Rude.  Don’t you hate it when you’re talking about religion, and there is always that one person who insults you and your faith?  Love is not like that.  Love is respectful to everyone, regardless of their beliefs or opinions.  That, however, does not mean to let them believe whatever they want.

Love does not insist on its own way.  Don’t take this the wrong way.  This does NOT mean that you can let someone do or believe whatever they want.  It means that if someone wants to go to blah blah blah for lunch, and you want to go to this and that instead, you don’t insist on going where you want to go.  I hate it when me and one of my parents are going to get something to eat, and they won’t say where they want to go!  That’s probably because they are being like love.

Love is not Irritable.  Love doesn’t get angry or annoyed at someone.  Love is too kind and patient for that.  I know its hard, but you have to try your best.  Your not perfect, but aim for perfection, and you’ll get excellence.  Aim for good enough, and you’ll get, well, not good enough.  So try your best.

Love is not Resentful.  Love doesn’t carry grudges.  It forgives and forgets, just like God when you go to confession.  There is this one kid at my high school that was in my Middle School English class.  He was the meanest boy I ever knew, and he would pick on me all the time.  Eventually I put a stop to it myself, but I still am trying to work to get rid of that grudge he gave me.  Love wouldn’t do that.  Love forgives.

Love does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Like I said earlier, our culture has a very distorted idea of what love does.  Apparently, nowadays, it is love to celebrate SCOTUS’s decision.  Apparently, its love to allow women to have abortions.  Apparently, its love to reject the truth.  That’s not love.  Love rejoices in the truth, not evil.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  ‘Nuff said.

Now that we have established what exactly love is, let’s look at today’s Gospel.  Jesus is once more visiting his hometown, Nazareth.  And once more, they reject him.  But it isn’t as bad as what they did earlier:11064011_10203835795915839_610930802_o

If you haven’t already figured it out, they tried to throw him off a cliff.  Pretty bad welcome home party.  But he still comes back and preaches to them.  Again, culture would say that what He just did in today’s Gospel isn’t love, it’s hate.  They don’t want him to preach, so He shouldn’t preach.  Again, whatever the people feel is right, is somehow right.  Jesus loved those people so much, that He risked being thrown off a cliff just so He could talk to them about the truth.  Not only that, He forgave them for almost killing Him, just like He forgives you when you go to Confession.

Love fuels forgiveness, and forgiveness in turn is a manufacturing plant for love.  It’s like Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration, they fuel each other.  If you want the strength to forgive, love.  If you want the strength to love, forgive.  Jesus said that we must forgive each other, not seven times, but seventy times seven times.  I remember when I was little, my little brother punched me.  My mom told me to forgive him.  I asked why.  She said because Jesus tells us to forgive our brothers 70 x 7 times.  I told her that I think I’ve past that number a long time ago, so I shouldn’t have to this time.  But really, forgive endlessly. That’s what Jesus does.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

PS, before we left Mass this morning.  My dad told me to sign a piece of paper.  I asked what it was and he told me to just sign it.  I have a plethora of different signatures, so I chose one of my favorites:  My name (Batman).  My dad laughed and told me it was going to our bishop!  I hope he has a good sense of humor.

PPS,

The Good, the Bad, and the Annoying

Earlier today, I went to Mass with my Mom like we usually do on weekdays.  But since my dad was home today, we got to leave all the little kids home and have a nice quiet time. It was awesome as planned, and we went and got some food afterwards.  Things were looking good.  But then disaster struck when we got home.  The kids were screaming and pouting, so we went to our town’s Fourth of July Celebration.  They had some of the best funnel cake I have ever had, not to mention the live music and other attractions.  When we got home, once again, everything fell apart.  Then, my dad came to the rescue with a movie he rented from RedBox, and now everything is quiet while my little sisters watch The Lemurs of Madagascar.

As you can tell, my day has been full of different emotions.  Today I’ve been happy, annoyed, angry, and the wonderful feeling only a good funnel cake can bestow.  But no matter how ‘m feeling, I’m obligated (privileged) to care for my younger siblings.  I’m also supposed to be Christ to others, no matter how I feel about it.

As a Catholic, I promise you there will be times when you’re loving life.  You just feel God’s presence all around you.  Your plans seem to fit right up with God’s, all the kids seem to behave at Mass, and you couldn’t want anything else (except maybe some pizza.  That would be a nice touch).  And there will be times when you feel empty.  You’ll look around and say to God, “What the heck Man!?”.  Sometimes people will hate you for what you believe and persecute you for your faith.  Unashamed Catholic had a great post about constant conversion to a more Christ-like you, and he got comments about how horrible Mary is, and how the Catholic Church is the infamous “Whore of Babylon” spoken of in Revelation.  You have to be Christ-like whatever happens.

My friends know that I’m not to good at doing that when I’m angry.  I can get really bad sometimes when people do stuff like I just mentioned.  But to be perfectly honest, I probably do that a lot as well.  I don’t say it, but sometimes I’ll make fun of what someone believes (even though the stupidity is so thick you couldn’t cut it with a just knife.  You’d need like a lightsaber-chainsaw to just make a dent in it).  The point is, be Christ to others, regardless of who it may be.

There are a lot of people who expect to get something out of Christianity in a worldly sense.  People want to get a good feeling out of going to church or being nice to people.  I’m telling you right now, it probably won’t happen the way you want it to.  C.S. Lewis once said that “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

To people who are expecting comfort out Catholicism, the problem is that you are looking for the world in the Heavens.  Your expecting worldly pleasure out of God.  But, like JPII famously said,

“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort.  You were made for Greatness”

However, you will get something from living a holy life.  They’re called the fruits of the Holy Spirit (charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity).  While some of them may sound a lot like earthly feelings, they’re not.  They are something far more awesome.  They are fruits because they show when the Holy Spirit lives in you.  It’s basically the Holy Spirit showing through you.

Because we are so addicted to our feelings, we expect what we feel to be right to be the truth.  We might really want something to happen, whether it’s for a job interview to go well, or for your sports team to win, or something even more important to happen, but it might not be in God’s plan.  Have you ever really really wanted something, and told God that His will be done, not yours?  I have.  I did not enjoy it at all.  But, as C.S. Lewis said again,

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

With the way things are going today in America, it would probably be the aforementioned time when you say to God, “What the Heck, Man!”  But it is also the time when you suck it up and keep fighting the good fight, regardless about how you feel.  If you’re happy, spread it to other people, take advantage of those times.  If someone is feeling depressed about what has happened, or if they are being bullied for their faith, stand up for them.

A lot of people are all for that relationship not religion stuff.  They are looking for a perfect relationship, but there is a problem.  I hate to break it to them, but they’re not perfect!  Sometimes you are going to feel down in the dumps, I personally guarantee it.  But, if you follow Jesus through good times and bad, you’ll get to taste what Final Victory is like.  You’ll get to see God and think, “Man, that was worth it”.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax