Thursday, May 10, 2012

"This I command you: love one another."

This Sunday, May 13, 2012 - the Sixth Sunday of Easter, we meet Jesus giving us the great commandment to love one another. Not only are we to love one another but we are to love another as Jesus Himself has loved us. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

"Love One Another As I Have Loved You"

‘This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.’ This is the central text of Sunday’s Gospel reading and indeed one could consider it one of the most fundamental texts of the Christian faith. And yet it seems at first sight to contain a basic contradiction. We are all well aware that genuine love, real authentic love, must by definition be an entirely free choice. So, Fr. Alex McAllister aks, how can Jesus ‘command’ us to express love one for another? Fr. John Foley, SJ says God’s love never forces us. It is always gentle and respectful.

In the Gospel the meaning of the word “love” is crystal clear. Jesus Himself defines the term by stretching His arms out upon the cross, dying to self so that we might live forever. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS says Jesus gives us His great love the world has ever known. As we benefit for all eternity from the love of Jesus, so too are we called to share His love generously with others. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB says this is truly helpful because so often in this life we get confused about love and far too often think of it as feeling good about someone. When we see how Jesus loves, then we can understand how we are to love.

Those who love God long to be holy as He is holy and so live the commandments by holy thoughts, words and deeds. And they do it out of love, explains Father Cusick, not because of fear of punishment.

Loving Your Crooked Neighbor

But everyone has flaws, even mothers. Fr. Phil Bloom notes what W.H. Auden had said. Only God could ask us to love our crooked neighbor with all our crooked heart. And what shatters our illusion of love is the presence in our lives of people who hate us. Fr. Ron Rolheiser points out that they are the test. It's here where we have to measure up: If we can love them, we're real lovers, if we can't, we're still under a self-serving illusion.

The Holy Spirit quietly makes us able to say yes to faith, but not by imposing upon us or compelling us. The Spirit would rather be a companion in our lives than a home-wrecker. Just like Jesus did, we too need to feel the warmth of the Father's love. And, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B adds, we are to share that warmth with all whom we meet in life.

True spiritual joy is what every human being longs for. But without the experience of receiving and giving this divine love, Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. clarifies, this joy can never be found.

Being Models Of Love To Others

In Sunday's Gospel (John 5:15), we hear the powerful words: "No longer do I call you servants ... but I have called you friends." Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains that the Lord calls us friends; he makes us his friends; he gives us his friendship. Pope Benedict says this friendship opens us to all that is good and gives us the measure to discern between what is true and what is false, between deceit and truth.

Each of us is an ambassador with portfolio for Christ. If a person loves the Lord, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says that love in itself will attract other people who are seeking the Lord. Perhaps it will attract a person who is looking for someone to make a life with, certainly it will attract many others who are looking for the meaning to life.

Oftentimes, however, we are completely unaware of the role we are playing. But the non-Christians watching us do not forget that we follow Christ. Sadly, Fr. James Gilhooley reminds us, we frequently disappoint them. Love, true love, lasting love, only results from the Love of Christ. And that love becomes a magnet.

Understanding Catholic Teaching

Time Magazine put the president of the US bishops' conference on its list of the top 100 most influential people in the world. When asked how best he would use this new influence, Cardinal Tim Dolan dismissed the honor, saying “If you count on that stuff, tomorrow that will be diminished. I think what you have to do is try to make sure that you're always on the side of truth." And among the truths that he preaches is Catholic Social Teaching that is so vital in the
current political debate.

As an example, Elizabeth Scalia was watching the Colbert Report and the chat between Steven Colbert and Georgetown’s Father Thomas Reese on why Paul Ryan’s budget bothers Catholics. She expected to like the clip but she didn't.

She notes that in this polarized-unto-paralysis moment within our government and our society, perhaps the Holy Spirit means for us to ponder this -- that loving our neighbors means solutions for the poor should come from us, through ideas born in our communities and our churches, meant to address the needs of the people living around us, and not from a vast, generalized, impersonal, inefficient federal government. That is how we both insure the dignity of the human person before us, who we are to see as a human person and not a category or a unit, and find a connection to joyful gratitude, which is borne of service.

Meanwhile, Dr. Taylor Marshall talks about the time when he was a Protestant looking in from the outside. Catholic salvation to him then was more like a pinball machine. The ball was grace and Catholics were constantly mashing the buttons to keep the ball in play. However, all pinball players know that eventually the ball gets past you and your game is over. How could Catholics honestly believe that human effort could keep the ball in play for decades and decades of human life? Why can’t they just trust in the finished work of Christ and relax? He offers a most lucid explanation you all should read.

Mothers & the Blessings of Life

This Sunday, the world also celebrates Mothers Day. In "Behold your Mother," Cheryl Dickow shares a Happy Mother's Day reflection that focuses on how the Blessed Virgin Mary always directs us to her Son. In fact, Cheryl says our Blessed Mother is like all earthly mothers, saying what needs to be said - even amidst our disdain. Certainly we live in a world where our daily walk with Christ isn’t always the easy path. But Mary doesn’t change her message to the servers during the wedding at Cana: “Do what he tells you to do.”

London's Archbishop Nichols reflects upon the roles of mothers and the family in the formation of children. He said they are paramount to catechizing children about their faith and in the forming of a prayer life that will last a lifetime. And in Simcha Fisher's case, that lifetime is pegged right now in middle school. You don't have to be an obnoxious helicopter parent to realize that kids in their early teens are not yet adults. We're not done raising them yet! It is a tricky age. And she says it is our job to meddle in our children's lives.

And following Vatican approval, the “Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb” is now available for use by dioceses in the United States. The text of the blessing in English and Spanish is posted online and is being published as a booklet addendum to the Book of Blessings/Bendicional. The blessing will be included in future editions of those liturgical volumes. This blessing is considered an effective witness to teh Sanctity of Human Life.

More Mothers Day Reflections

Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to normal after you've had a baby. Well, Raoul Pascual notes, that somebody doesn't know that once you're a mother, "Normal" is history. This is just one of a long litany of "Somebody said..." expressions about motherhood that he shares with us. Check out his list and show every mother you know how much they mean to all of us. And we're sure Chasity Brown is one who can appreciate this list. In her article, she talks about celebrating her very first Mother’s Day since adopting her daughter, Marla, from Guatemala.

Dwija Borobia shares one Mothers Day a few years back that was, or perhaps should have been, more difficult to celebrate. On the Friday before Mother's Day, my husband was laid off. It was the day when she learned how to trust God like a child and receive the peace of Christ.

And this is something Jake Frost understands. In a role reversal with his wife, he had to give up his coat and tie for a kitchen appron and became a stay-at-home dad. He notes that we dads can’t change the world to make society value and honor life, family, and those who dedicate themselves to both. But we can change the world of the mom in our own family by letting her know how much we value what she does. No one else will honor her vocation, so it’s up to us. Knowing that we respect her work can make all the difference as she struggles to fight the good fight, day in and day out.

The Google Car has Arrived!

If you're looking for a Christmas gift to put under my tree in December, this is it! Nevada issues Google the first license for the self-driving car. Nevadans will soon see driverless cars being tested on streets and highways.

Google received the first license Monday from the state Department of Motor Vehicles to test the autonomous vehicles. It is believed to be the first such license issued in the country. The 2011 Legislature passed the first law in the nation to permit testing of driverless cars. But state regulations require a person behind the wheel and one in the passenger’s seat during tests. Talk about plug and drive. The future is here and now.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Who is your neighbor?
FEATURED BLOG: A Father's Thoughts on Mother's Day
PASTORAL HISPANA: La amistad con Jesus Resucitado

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