July 2, 2017 – “Love my Son above all and the whole world through Him. Never forget that each of your brothers, within himself, carries something precious – the soul. Therefore, my children, love all those who do not know my Son, so that through prayer and the love which comes through prayer, they may become better; that the goodness in them could win; that souls could be saved and have eternal life.”
There’s a bit of some untold truth most don’t understand, or simply overlook, about love.
1 – Love is not easy.
2 – Love is a choice.
Love isn’t only about feelings and emotions, as we are constantly being persuaded into believing through various movies, television shows, and fictional novels. A lot of that stuff gives insanely false expectations of love and marriage in our society.
Love isn’t about Cupid’s arrow, fairytale endings, and endless bliss and passion. Love is endurance, it is selfless, and is about doing the right thing. It isn’t about serving yourself, but serving others.
Father Leon in Medjugorje spoke on this topic in a homily earlier this month (July 2) he gave at Mass. Cathy Nolan of Mary TV shared an excerpt of his homily, which I felt really helps us to better think about what love is and how we should perceive it. Here’s what Father Leon said:
Love is not about feelings. Love is a choice. I choose what is good for the other person, as one of the other fathers said in a quote from St. Thomas Aquinas, “Love is to choose the good of the other.” It is not about emotions.
One day your husband or wife is going to make you feel awful. And because they are so close to you they are going to make you feel really awful. They have the power to wound you, truly. And then what happens, do you walk out? No, love is more than that. Love is a choice.
So you can’t love your husband or wife and make them your goal. Marriage is only for this life, only until death. Don’t get carried away. I will love you forever. Yeah, in heaven. But you might have two wives by the time you get to heaven. You might have lost the first one and married another one.
If you don’t love Jesus first, your love for your husband or wife will fail. If you don’t love Jesus first, your love for your children will fail. And your love for your parents will fail if Jesus is not in the middle. Jesus must always be in the middle.
In the Gospel that you heard today (Mt 10: 37-42), it is as if this family is falling apart. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…” It is almost as if you have to abandon your family, that is how Jesus seems to put it. But think about the dysfunctional family that we all know about. Remember the parable of the prodigal son.
Here you have a very dysfunctional family. The younger son says “give me the share that is due to me.” In other words, when to you inherit the money? When your father dies. So he is saying to his father, “Hurry up and die. I hate you already. I just want the money.” And he goes off. The elder son says, “All these years I worked for you and you never gave me so much as a kid.” In other words, “I have been putting up with you for the money too. And I don’t really care that much.” This is a very dysfunctional family.
And then when the younger son comes back, the elder one says, “When this, your son, went off carousing….” He says, “This, your son…” And the father has to remind him, “No this your brother!”
Now there is one innocent person in this whole story. One innocent person. Do you know who it is? Yes, the fatted calf. The fatted calf is the innocent person in that whole family. The fatted calf is a symbol of Jesus. Jesus, the Lamb of God. The one who is dumb before its shearers, who suffers for us all. “The Lamb who is forever slain,” as it says in Revelations.
Jesus is the one who can unite our families. Jesus is the one who can convert our families. It is only in loving God that we truly love other people.
Father Leon really nails it here, and helps us to discover the answer to the difficulty of learning to love others (even the people that drive us crazy). The answer first and foremost is always love Jesus first.
Our emotions are not always trustworthy. Our senses are vulnerable and haywire because of our broken human nature. But the one we can always trust is Jesus, Who is God, and in the Gospel has paved the road for us to follow, teaching us how to love and how to live. And it’s that same Gospel message of love Our Lady is teaching us today in Medjugorje.
Never forget that each of your brothers, within himself, carries something precious – the soul. Therefore, my children, love all those who do not know my Son, so that through prayer and the love which comes through prayer, they may become better; that the goodness in them could win; that souls could be saved and have eternal life.
All lives matter.
We live because God has given us the most beautiful, irreplaceable, and precious gift of a soul within us. The soul is what gives life to the body. When we put God first in our lives, loving Him first, we begin to recognize just how important our soul is and work as best we can to keep it for God alone by avoiding evil, and choosing to be better for love of Him.
By doing this, we also start to see others a little differently as well and not in such a cold, disconnected manner. They, too, have souls created by God, and are called by Him to serve and love. God loves them just as much as He loves you, which is so much our human minds cannot possibly comprehend it. The grace of God helps us to see the potential of goodness in others, and have a more compassionate heart towards their suffering and difficulties.
Now, does that mean that loving is going to be easy? No. It’s still going to be tough as long as we’re living in the world. But with Jesus and Mary’s help we don’t carry the burden alone. And our attempts to love better is what’s most pleasing to God. It’d be a whole lot worse if we all just stopped caring, and solely served ourselves. Then we’d just be feeding pride, which is the root of all sin.
We can also better actively love others through prayer. Sometimes there isn’t much in our power we can do to help others. But in our prayer of intercession we can certainly help more than we can imagine. Our Lady wants us to pray for others; that the love of God may transform their hearts, and the Holy Spirit to enlighten their minds; that they can recognize the potential within them, goodness to win in them, and to discover the true joy of living.
Sometimes it’s really tough to love someone who has hurt or betrayed you, or even someone who is committing many grave sins. But we must remember one important piece of advice: Love the sinner, hate the sin. Pray for the strength to forgive them, to heal the pain of bad memories, to see them as a brother or sister of Christ, and pray that they may one day come to know God better.
The best way to understand and confirm both Our Lady’s and Father Leon’s messages is to refer to Scripture.
[1 John 4:7-21]
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
[1 Corinthians 13]
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Look at what Jesus said in the Gospel. Doesn’t it sound familiar?
Love my Son above all and the whole world through Him.
We can see once again Our Lady is echoing the words of her Son Jesus. The answer and foundation to everything is to love God first. When we love Him first, we then can love others better. Love is the key, and God is the source of all love. Once we decide to love God more since He loved us first, everything else will fall into place. Our Lady is showing us the way to love and to live life. She is showing us how to be more united with her Son. Only then will we be better able in participating in God’s plan of the salvation of souls.