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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fr. Bob Warren's This Week's Reflection: They will know we are Christians by our love

They will know we are Christians by our love
A single mother is frantic. She has found a six‑pack of beer in her fourteen year old daughter's closet. When the daughter comes home from school she confronts her ‑ Ok, Maria, what is this? It looks like a six‑pack of beer to me, Mom. Don't get smart, young lady and tell me how you got it. Maria thought real fast and said ‑ Oh yeah, I was keeping it for a friend. You expect me to believe that? ‑ asked her mother. Maria gets mad and stomps off to her bedroom and slams the door. Sound familiar?
The mother calls her sister for advice. Her sister asks her why she was so concerned with finding a six‑pack in her closet. Because I know where it all can lead and I don't want her to get into trouble ‑ the mother answered. I understand that ‑ her sister replied ‑ but why don't you want her to get into trouble? Because I don't want her to ruin her life. I understand that ‑ the sister said ‑ But why is it you don't want her to ruin her life?
Finally, the mother got it. Because I love her ‑ she said. Do you think she got that message? ‑ Her sister asked. What do you think would happen if you started with ‑ Honey, I love you so much that I got really scared when I found the six‑pack in your closet? Could we talk about this because I am really afraid you could get into trouble?
There is no ambiguity with Christ when it comes to love. It makes Christ believable. He tells us in John's gospel ‑ As the Father loved me, so I love you. The whole theme of the gospel is Christ's love for us. A love so great that He never let's go of us and never gives up. In all of the world's great religions, people seek God. Christianity, however, introduces into the world an unexpected reversal. Christianity reveals a God who seeks us and who loves us more than we love ourselves. Jesus came to reveal to each and every one of us the loving, compassionate, forgiving face of the Father, His Father.
So many people are caught up in false notions of God. A God of anger, a judge, a God spying on people ready to pounce and to punish, a God of law, a God concerned more with rituals and the sacrifice of animals and what to do or not to do on the Sabbath. Or else, a distant God, far off, not interested in the human condition and human suffering. Jesus came to reveal the true face of God, a God of love, of truth and of light. A God passionately interested in people as they are in their uniqueness.
We should have no fear because God's love for us is based on nothing that may sound somewhat disappointing. We prefer to think that God loves me because I am so dedicated and unselfish or because of my special qualities and my great personality. We do nothing to arouse, elicit or earn this love of God. It was there before we existed. If God's love was based on something and this something broke down, then the whole structure would collapse. Let's be grateful for the truth that God's love for us is based on nothing even when we sin. God's love continues to carry us. He never gives up.
But, as we all know, actions speak louder than words. He tells us in today's gospel that if you love me, you will keep my commandments. He says it twice in today's gospel. In other words, love is measured more by what we do than by what we feel. But, some obey Christ's commands more out of fear than love. A religion based solely on fear of punishment or hope of reward tends to seek loopholes. How far can I go before I sin? How much can I steal before I sin gravely? How little can I give and still satisfy my Christian obligation?
On the other hand, a religion based on love seeks opportunities. What more can I do to help? Is there anything you need? Do not hesitate to call me at any time. Love seeks only to be of service. It finally comes down to this. What is your relationship with God like? Is it based on fear or on love? Fear tends to paralyze and love releases.
Fear imprisons... love frees
Fear sours... love sweetens
Fear wounds... love heals
Fear avoids... love invites
St. Augustine said, "Love and do what you want. When you truly love, you will automatically do the good."
Many years ago we sang a hymn, "We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord." The last line of that hymn was, "They will know we are Christians by our love." The question is ‑ Will they?
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A. Signature
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Spiritual Director
P.S. We continue to pray for the Sainthood of our Founder, Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor. We will remember the special intentions of members of the Father Paul of Graymoor Guild during a special Pentecost Novena of Masses, beginning May 26th. Please send me your special intentions to be included in this Novena and visit the Father Paul of Graymoor Guild website, to learn more about becoming a member of the Guild and praying for the Canonization of Father Paul of Graymoor. 
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