Thursday, March 31, 2011

Putting God 1st on Your 1st Friday

The other day I ran across this quote by St. John of the Cross. “At the evening of life, we will be judged by our love” (CCC 1022).
It made me swallow really hard. God did not say, “Don’t hate.” If he had, I would probably come out all right. He did not say, “Love me and treat everyone else as you see fit.” If he had, I might be okay.
He said we are to love others as he has loved us.
I can get my theology right. I can learn how to pray the rosary and genuflect. I can go to confession monthly and attend Mass weekly – or even daily. I can read the Daily Office, pray the Angelus, and recite the Divine Mercy.
I can show up for an hour of Adoration and read every book my spiritual advisor recommends.
I can even write a book about spiritual metaphors.
But if I don’t have love, I am nothing. St. Paul describes the loveless Christian as a clanging cymbal.
All of these good and holy things that I do are a tragic waste if I refuse to let them change me. I must respond to grace, respond to divine love and let that love flow out to others. If I don’t get that lesson mastered, everything else that I’ve done won’t matter a bit.
In the evening of this life, we will be judged, by the One who is Love, on whether or not we have loved each other as He has loved us.
It is not a reason to despair. It’s not as though we are incapable of learning how to love as Christ has loved us. The saints have shown us over and over again that our Faith can change us. We can learn this final and most important lesson. These things – the Mass, our prayers, the Sacraments, Adoration, Lent, the Divine Office, repentance, obedience, sacrifice, acts of charity, study, biographies of the saints, papal encyclicals, pilgrimages, Mary gardens, sacred spaces and Sacred Scripture – these are the things that change our hearts. They are venues for grace.
They have turned sinners into saints before. And, by the grace of God, they can change even me.
Oh, God, do not abandon me in this journey. I have turned away from sin and chosen to walk in a new direction. Keep me safely moving in this new way, and teach me this final and most difficult thing.
To love.
For I know this – the greatest of all of these is love.


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