Sr Phyllis Jaszkowiak
February 3, 2019
In today’s second reading Paul tells us that without love we are nothing and anything we do without love is nothing. “There are three things that last, Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is Love.”
What Jesus came to help people understand is that God is always with us, loving us, giving us the courage to live that love in our everyday lives. God, who is love, surrounds us, and we walk within God always. Jesus shows us how to walk within God, within Love. If we take the definitions of love from Paul’s letter, we can see how Jesus concretely lived them out.
“(Love) does not seek its own interests, but rejoices with the truth.” Jesus tells his disciples at the Last Supper, “Have I been with you and still you do not understand? I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
“If I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have Love, I am nothing.” Jesus says, “By myself, I can do nothing. It is the Father that works through me.”
“If I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have Love, I gain nothing.” On the cross Jesus says, “This day you will be with me in paradise.” And, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
“Love is not jealous, inflated or quick-tempered.” To the Woman at the Well Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I shall give will never thirst.”
“Love is patient, love is kind.” Jesus, traveling from one village to another, saw a mother burying her only son and she was a widow. He stopped because of her grief and misery and raised her son to life.
“Love does not rejoice in wrong doing.” Jesus says, “Woman, has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you.”
At Jesus’ baptism, a Voice told him that no matter what you do or don’t do, I am with you and I love you. I am with you every moment of your life no matter what happens. I will be with you, by your side, within you, through good times, bad times, everyday times. I am there enveloping you with love. This is what Jeremiah experienced as he preached God’s Word, and people didn’t want to hear it. “They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Jesus, in today’s gospel, knows God is with him as he walks away through the angry crowd.
Jesus wanted his home town people to know this God within. They didn’t understand it. They didn’t experience God that way. They prayed and went to Synagogue, but didn’t know or experience this God of love who was always with them, and that they were to embody this God of Love in their everyday lives, and share this love with all others.
We sometimes are like the hometown folks. We know about God out there. We went to Catholic schools or Faith Formation programs, we come to Mass each Sunday, receive Communion. The question is do we know God who is within us, loves us no matter what? Do we know that we walk within Love every moment of our lives?
To come to know God, who is really Pure Spirit, we need to take time to listen to what God says to us. As St. Teresa of Avila says, “We need no wings to go in search of God, but have only to look upon God present within us.” It takes practice and discipline to quiet ourselves so as to listen to the Divine Spirit within us and not just our own thoughts, worries, or anxieties.
God may not come during our times of quiet prayer, but may come as we get up and look about and see the beauty of earth, nature, space. Or as we enjoy a family meal and love is visible and concrete in that gathering. Or maybe we have been in a prayer or small church group and through that sharing God reveals love. Or perhaps, like some of our immigrants, on their journey to this country, felt God’s powerful love giving them the strength and stamina to continue. Or maybe at a funeral of a loved one, friends and family gather and through their love we are able to grieve the death and to begin to accept that our loved one is still with us but in a new way.
“Love and compassion are necessities,” the Dalai Lama writes, “not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
God, Love, is always with us. This is what our Youths are learning as they come to the Sunday evening times of prayer. It is from this love, that is within us, envelopes us, loves us, that we are driven forth to help our neighbors, because love always wants to expand, to help others come to know love, to know God, as God is, not as we imagine God.
In a month Lent is coming. Maybe one of our Lenten practices would be to take time each day to sit and listen to what God is saying to us. It would be time to come to know this unknowable God deep within ourselves and live out of that love.
Then perhaps, we too, can hear God’s voice, who says, “I love you. I am with you, always, no matter what.”
Quote from St. Teresa of Avila taken from LIVING WITH CHRIST. February 2019, page 61.
Quote from Dalai Lama taken from Sr. Joan Chittister, WE ARE ALL ONE; REFLECTIONS ON UNITY, COMMUNITY AND COMMITMENT TO EACH OTHER. Twenty Third Publications. 2018. Page 11.