Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Deus caritas est"

At the beginning of a homily delivered quite a few years ago, Msgr. M. Francis Mannion noted that to profess that God, as a communion of divine persons, is love is quite different from professing that love is God. After all, syntax matters, n'est ce pas? Because God is love, God loves us. How do we know God loves us? Is God's love simply a nice sentimental thought that gives us a warm feeling inside as we take a stroll at sunrise? What about those times when life proves difficult, challenging, even excruciating? Our New Testament reading, or, in Anglican parlance, lesson for this Sixth Sunday of Easter tells us how we know: "In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). God's love comes first, seeking to elicit our response.

God's love is not sappy, soggy, and sentimental intended to give us a case of spiritual diabetes, but real and reliable, proven through crucible of experience. most especially through suffering. I think this is an appropriate enough Scripture for Mother's Day because perhaps the closest human analog to the God who is love is a mother's love for her child. Of course, this can't help but put us in mind of the great Mother of God, Mary most holy, who was, as the wise, old Simeon predicted, pierced by a sword on account of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Being selfless, dying to ourselves and living for others for Christ's sake and the sake of God's kingdom is the call of every Christian and the hallmark of a true disciple. Plus, it's difficult even to the point of being impossible to do it on our own, which is why Jesus said of Himself with regard to us: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:13).

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