Acts 10, 25-26. 34-35. 44-48; Psalm 98 (97); 1 John 4, 7-10; John 15, 9-17
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Everybody needs love. Man and woman were created to love and to be loved. The burning desire for love in the human heart cannot be extinguished by any earthly power. It is when we look for love "in all the wrong places", as the popular song goes, that unhappiness results. 100% genuine, authentic love comes only from God. The commandments protect us from falling for the counterfeits, the shams and the lies that often pass for love in our world.
"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (Jn 15: 10-11) Joy comes with the moral life lived in love of God and neighbor, not one in which the commandments are kept only out of fear of the fires of hell. There are many souls in the world who wonder why they find no happiness in going to Mass, in living a morally good life, by good works and faithfulness in prayer. All of these things must be done, but if the fire of God's own love is not present in them they will not bring joy, will fail to satisfy. What is needed is the fire of charity.
"The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. He no longer stands before God as a slave, in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who 'first loved us.' "(CCC 1828)
St. Basil, (c. 330-379), teaches how to do good and find joy in it: "If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages, ...we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands...we are in the position of children." (CCC 1828) Children who know they are weak and small find joy in pleasing their parents by doing good. They look to their parents for all that is good.
Loving God is the response of those who believe in God as a loving and faithful Father. St. Therese of Lisieux, whose 100th anniversary of death we recently celebrated, was a master of the spiritual life, now a declared Doctor of the Church, and taught well of the love which is the essence of Faith. She taught the "little way" of childlike simplicity and obedience to God as the way to grow in love. She wrote, "It seems to me that there will be no judgment for victims of love, or rather, the good God will hasten to reward, with eternal delights, His own love which He will see burning in their hearts."
The living of the commandments is the love of God in action for the human person. The commandments were revealed by our heavenly Father so that we might understand the practical implications for us of authentic love in word and action. Those who love God long to be holy as he is holy and so live the commandments by holy thoughts, words and deeds. But they do it out of love and not because of fear of punishment. "In the heart of the Church I will be love," St. Therese exclaimed upon discovering her true vocation. Though bound by the walls of her cloister, she knew unlimited freedom to reach the heights of holiness through courageous devotion to charity. We too are students of the love of God. The commandments are the lessons by which we simple children will master the love of God our Father in thought, word and action.
The love of the Holy Spirit, Divine Love, burns in the heart of the Body of Christ, the universal Church. Our hearts are warmed and quickened by this fire of love as we live and grow in the way of the Church, the Spirit’s beloved Spouse.
Let us pray: Ever-living God, help us to celebrate our joy in the resurrection of the Lord and to express in our lives the love we celebrate. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fr Kevin M Cusick
Meeting Christ in the Liturgy
(For further reading see also these paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 434, 459, 609, 737, 1823, 1824, 1972, 2745.)