Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The absolute priority of God's love

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. 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.

"This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him" (1 Jn 4,7-16-underlining and emboldening mine).
The Last Supper, by Boninsegna

I do not presently feel either the need or the desire to be original. I am trying to listen, both to God and to other people. Frankly, in my job and my ministry I get tired of hearing myself. Last evening I had my first series of meetings with people who are preparing to either enter the Church or complete their Christian initiation at the great Easter Vigil. It was a blessing and a privilege to listen to their stories, their questions, their hopes, and concerns.

The above passage is what I want to convey to each of them because it is God's word, not mine. Receiving the sacraments is just that, receiving. Therefore, the only question is, Will you receive what God, who is love because He is Father, Son, and Spirit- a communion of persons- wants desparately to give you? Jesus on the Cross is the sign of God's desparation for you, for me, for us all. This is the ONLY question, there is no other one. This what that God wants to give us is a who, a Person, His Son, Jesus Christ, who calls us to be His friends.

Please, please, please do not reduce Christianity to moralism, this is perhaps the worst distortion of the Good News that is Jesus Christ because it is the most common distortion. To that end, I post again that wonderful passage by Fr. Radcliffe, who writes: "The Church has nothing to say about morality until our listeners have glimpsed God's delight in their existence. People often come to us carrying heavy burdens, with lives not in accord with the Church's teaching, the fruit of complex histories. We have nothing to say at all until people know that God rejoices in their very existence, which is why they exist at all" (What is the Point of Being a Christian? pg. 59). As to burdens, let's turn again to scripture, to St. Matthew's Gospel, eleventh chapter, twenty-eighth to thirtieth verses, where Jesus, speaking to you and me, says: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

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