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.
The 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:
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.