Presentation on theme: "Jesus Light by Fr. Sam Rosales, S.J. Nov. 17, 2007 Today we want to see how Jesus lights up our lives by his teachings on Love."— Presentation transcript:
Jesus Light by Fr. Sam Rosales, S.J. Nov. 17, 2007 Today we want to see how Jesus lights up our lives by his teachings on Love.
The Book of Deuteronomy 6.4-5 says: Listen, Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Jesus said this is the first and the greatest of the commandments. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22.37-40).
In the Jewish tradition, the Law or the Torah embraces what we call the Pentateuch. This includes the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It took a long period of time for the Pentateuch to take shape. It was ascribed to Moses, the leader to whom, Israel believed, God had spoken as to no other man.
The prophets include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micea, Nahum, Habucuc, Zofonias, Ageas, Zacarias, Malaquias, Daniel, and Baruc.
Jesus says that all the law and the prophets depend on the first and second commandments. That is awesome. They both start saying: You shall love. So it seems to me that we are on to something big when we talk about love. It is so big a subject that the whole Bible, a library of 72 books, tries to elaborate so that we can understand what God is trying to tell us. With faith we seek understanding.
What is love? Webster Dictionary gives us several definitions. First it is a feeling of strong personal attachment induced by sympathetic understanding, or by ties of kinship, or by ardent affection. Or second, it is the benevolence attached to God as Father; also to mans adoration of God. Third, it is a strong liking. Fourth it is a tender and passionate affection for one of the opposite sex.
Pope Benedict the XVI in his first encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est, starts by quoting 1 John 4:16 God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. He says a kind of summary of the Christian life can be said to be from St. John: We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
The word love covers such a wide range of realities. We speak of love of country, love of ones profession, love between friends, love of work, love between parents and children, love between family members, and love of neighbor and love of God. Does the same word designate totally different realities?
A few Greek words will help us make distinctions. Eros is that love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings. The Holy Father mentions that this word is only used twice in the Old Testament. The New Testament does not use it at all.
Philia in Greek means the love of friendship. And Agape was used in the New Testament by St. John to express the relationship between Jesus and his disciples.
The Holy Father points out that the Greeks considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication. It overpowered reason by a divine madness which tore men away from his finite existence and enabled him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness.
This led to fertility cults, part of which was the sacred prostitution which flourished in many temples. They held it was a fellow- ship with the divine.
The Old Testament firmly opposed this form of religion. It did not reject eros as such, but warped and destructive forms of it. This was because it was a counterfeit divinization. It actually stripped man of his dignity and dehumanized him.
The prostitutes in the temples were not treated as human beings and persons, but simply use to arouse this so-called divine madness. They were being exploited. Therefore, eros has to be disciplined and purified if is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence: union with God.
Benedict XVI reminds us that in the past Christianity has been criticized for being opposed to the body (like the Puritans, and the Manicheans). It is quite true that tendencies of this sort have always existed. Today, eros has been reduced to pure sex. It is a commodity, a mere thing to be bought and sold.
Man himself becomes a commodity, to be used and exploited at will. It is really a debasement of the human body (e.g. porno). It is an apparent exaltation of the body, but can quickly turn into a hatred of bodiliness.
True, eros tends to rise in ecstasy towards the Divine, (says the Holy Father). It tends to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification, and healing.
In the Song of Songs, we find poems exalting conjugal love. Two different Hebrew words are used to indicate love. First is dodim, suggesting a love that is still insecure, indeterminate and searching. This comes to be replaced by ahaba, which in Greek means agape.
This is a love that involves a real discovery of the other, moving beyond the selfish character that prevailed earlier. It seeks the good of the beloved. It becomes renunciation. It is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice (paragraph six of Deus Caritas Est).
Jesus is our model for sacrifice. He said: Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it (Luke 17.33). This is the essence of love: to sacrifice for others. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15.13).
The Pope says that eros and agape can never be completely separated. Eros may start being covetous, but if it ascends toward seeking the happiness of the other, it will be concerned more and more with the beloved, and thus enter into agape (the descending type of love). So it is important to be there for others.
On the other hand, man cannot live by descending love alone. He cannot always give, he must also receive. That is why we have to be in touch with Jesus, the source of living water (John 7.37-38).
From his pierced heart flows the love of God (John 19.34). Avoid burn-out by much prayer when you feel you are running on empty. Retreats, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Rosary, the chaplets of Mercy, and many other spiritual exercises are an absolute must.
At the discourse before the Last Supper, Jesus said: By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another (John 13.35). A new commandment I give you, love one another, as I have loved you. Then he gave us the gift of the Eucharist.
He took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said: Take this, and divide it among yourselves… And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you. Do this in rememberance of me (Luke 22.17-19).
At the Eucharist, we are being loved by God, and are invited to love others in turn. A Eucharist that does not pass over into concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented (Says the Holy Father). Mass is the starting point for observing the commandment to love. It is there that we share the great parables of Jesus and allow him to speak to us.
The rich man (Luke 16.10-31) begs from his place of torment that his brothers be informed about what happens to those who simply ignore the poor man in need. Jesus takes up his cry for help as a warning to help us return to the right path.
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.5-37) tells us who our neighbor is. It is no longer just our countrymen, or just our kin. It applies to anyone in need anywhere. It is applied to all mankind.
The great parable of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25. 31-46) tells us the criterion by which our love will be tested. Come, ye, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you… for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.
Even though their actions were, strictly speaking, for those in need, they will be acceptable. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me (Matthew 25.40). Note that service to God does not mean you retreat into a paradise of spirituality, meditation, or adoration, only to ignore those who are in need.
Rather you retreat to allow the Lord to purify you from disordered affections, and make you stronger in your love. Then you can better serve others who are in need, with more love.
St. Paul suggests we make love our aim (1 Corinthians 14.1). If we speak in tongues of men an of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13.1-3).
So we have faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13.13). Set your aim on love!