My brothers and sisters, our 1st reading, in fact the entire chapter of Acts chapter 10 is an important chapter for the life of the Church. In this chapter, God reveals to Peter through Cornelius, a Gentile Roman officer- but believer in the God of Israel, that He hears the prayers of those who are not Jews but still believe in Him, and that He wants to pour down his love and salvation upon every human person. The leader of the Church declares, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him”. Our Gospel teaches what it means to act uprightly, but first let’s look at our 2nd reading which reveals how God shows no partiality towards people, “Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God…for God is love”. Let that truth sink in for a moment. “Everyone who loves, is begotten by God and knows God…for God is love”.
Every person who loves another has some degree of relationship with God, whether they know it or not, want it or not, because God is love. This means that every member of Isis who loves their family, every murderer on death row, every atheist, every human enemy of the Church, as well as anyone who has just drifted away, along with each one of us who do love God, we all have something in common. We all love another person or thing; which means we all care for, want to protect, want the good of, and communicates and shares our love to another to some degree or another. And this truth gives us some degree of knowledge of who God is- because God is love. God cares for, protects, wants the good of, and communicates and shares himself with others, because God is love.
And God, who is love, shows no partiality, he doesn’t love one person more than another. Amazingly, God doesn’t love us who do love Him more than a member of Isis or an atheist. God’s love is full and complete for every person; and shows no partiality. Thus, we, the Church, are to show no partiality, but are to want, to pray for, and work towards the conversion and salvation of every human person- equally, no matter who they are, just as God has. We know this is so very difficult to do. It is difficult because there are so many different people who are in so many different places and see things from different perspectives- all that are not our own. We are challenged to meet and love them where they’re at, just the way God meets and loves us and them. Today I want to reflect on how we are to share with others what every person is made for- to love. As well as what it means and looks like to love God and love others. In reality though, love, who is God, is incomprehensible, but I will do my best to reveal what it really means to love, as well as help give some thoughts as to what we can say to others who have drifted away from God and the Church.
However, perhaps a good place to start the dialogue and conversation with anyone, whether they believe in God or not, is to start with what we all have in common. We can get the atheists thinking, if we ask- Why is it that every human person who has ever lived on this earth has loved something or something to one degree or another? Could it be because every person was created by God who is love? We agree that love another is to care for, to protect, the want the good of, and desires to communicate and share their love to the other. Well, God who is love, protects, wants the good of, and has communicated himself upon his creation and even has revealed himself as Love. The very fact that every human being who has ever existed, has loved something or someone in their lifetime, reveals a truth of Himself that the Creator has communicated and revealed- namely God is love.
Our 2nd reading states, “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that God has first loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins”. God the Father who loves His Son, Jesus, has outpoured his very life and love to Him, and the Son has received that love, and out of love and obedience, returns that love back to the Father. And the Father, through the Son, who created every person and thing, loves his people so much that God sent his Son to save and bring back into relationship with Him. Even though we have turned our backs on Him and broken the relationship by our sin, God still loves us with no partiality. Therefore, for 2 people to be in a relationship of true love- means that they remain in the generous gift of self, want the good of the other, commit to and trust the other- kind of relationship. So also, to receive another’s love means to believe and know that the other has their best interest at heart. And just as every person who loves another desire their love to be reciprocated, so also does God desire us to know His love and to be loved in return.
If that is what it means to love, which it is; it is helpful to reflect on ourselves, as well as perhaps asking others who have drifted away from Church, how much do you love God? Jesus in our Gospel today tells his disciples, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love”. Therefore, if we really love God, then we will want to keep his commandments, and thus to remain in his love. To not keep his commandments, is to not remain in his love, and is to not really love Him.
Someone might say, ‘well I still believe in God, I try to be kind and am a good person, and so I love God in my own way’. In reality though, to really love God, is to love His way. To love our way is to love self, more than Him. To love God means to obey his commandments. His first commandments He has given us are to love God above anything else and to keep holy the Lord’s Day by giving of ourselves in love and worship with all of our heart. In fact, the place and time Jesus says this is during the Last Supper, when Jesus gives his disciples His Body and Blood, and says, “Do this in memory of me”. And this commandment, nor any of the commandments, is not because God is egotistical and wants or needs us to love or worship him, but the commandments are for our good- because he loves us. Remember that to love means to want to protect and want the good of the other, thus the commandments are how God protects us and gives us what is for our good. Our Gospel continues, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete”. Everything God has done, is for our good, is for our complete joy and happiness. Everything God does, or does not do, and the way he does it, is for our good, joy, and happiness. Everything. Sometimes that is hard to accept. Do we really believe that? To really love him is to believe, to trust, and live by that truth. How might we need to love Him more by trusting and following His will for our lives?
Jesus continues by summing the other commandments into one, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends because I told you everything I have heard from my Father”. The kind of relationship God wants with us is not a master/slave, not a command/ maybe, sometimes, reluctantly obey kind of relationship; but a relationship of love. God is love, and thus has outpoured his very life completely. All of creation, all covenants of the Old Testament, the sending of Jesus Christ, and outpouring of all that Jesus is upon the Cross and the Eucharist is to re-establish a loving relationship with us- for that is what love does- gives of self for the good of the other. God has given himself fully to us out of love, the question is- are we receiving and giving ourselves fully out of love back to Him? May we do so in this and every Mass. And so, this week I encourage you to ask yourself, and at least one other person, maybe on your way home- what is your relationship with God like, how would you describe it? But also, and perhaps this is more difficult, ask God what your relationship with Him is like, and in what ways does He want it to improve?BACK TO LIST