New Standard Of Love

Fr. Tom’s Homily May 19, 2019

“This Easter season is one that invites us to a newness of life.  In the second reading today it ends with those words, ‘I make all things new’ and so the Lord wants us to become new people during this Easter season so that we may live our life more fully and find even greater joy and happiness and fulfillment within our lives.  You know if you ask people, ‘What commandments did Jesus give us?’ You know they’ll usually say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.’ Well actually those commandments were not new with Jesus.  They were from the Old Testament, two different places though, but Jesus joined them together and made love of God and love of neighbor so intertwined with each other, but that was not the new commandment Christ gave us. The new commandment there was given at the Last Supper and at the Last Supper Jesus said, ‘Love one another as I love you.’  What Jesus does is give us a new standard for love, a higher standard for love a higher standard for love. It is a love that is self-giving, self-sacrificing. It’s a love that Jesus had expressed to the Apostles there at the Last Supper. The very first thing in John’s account of the Last Supper is that Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. Now washing the feet of guests was the job of the lowest servant of all.  It was the most menial, the most distasteful of tasks there was, but Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and he challenges and he says, ‘As you have seen me do, so also you must do.’ But then even more so, the ultimate sign of Christ’s love, it was his death upon the cross that he was willing to give himself over for our salvation, that total gift of himself and that spirit of love is truly what becomes the new standard for each and every one of us, to love each other in a self-sacrificing, self-giving way.

You know that word love is so common within our society, there’s a lot of things in our culture, there’s music about love and everything, but unfortunately so often it’s treated just as a nice feeling that love is a wonderful feeling that you have and when you have that feeling that then you’re in love and if you don’t have that feeling then you’re not in love.  That’s a huge mistake for love is not primarily a feeling. Infatuation is based upon feelings and infatuation is good and healthy within a relationship and so feelings are very good and positive because they help with emotional bonding, but that’s not love. Love is not an act of the emotions, but rather an act of the will. It is a choice. It is a decision and any of us who have lived a life to any degree know that that is the true meaning of love, that is that choice to will and to work for the good of the other person and that’s what Jesus exemplifies so totally up through his own death and resurrection and it’s the call that all of us have within our own lives to love each other in that spirit.  No matter what our way of life, a celibate, a single, a separated, a married person, a young person, we’re all called to live that commandment to love. It was interesting to me that just about a week or so ago in Time magazine there was an article about self-giving love. It’s about the last place I thought I’d find that article, but I did and it was a reflection on a book that’s coming out on marriage and it really is an interesting presentation because it basically talks about the fact that for most parents, their greatest gift of self-giving love is towards their children and how much they will do for children. Sometimes in meeting with couples in preparation for marriage I say, ‘Once you have children, you’ll really know what love is about because they will bring more out of you than you ever thought you would do.  You do things you never thought you would do, but you’ll do them for children. That’s self-giving, self-sacrificing love, but what this article says is interesting. It says it’s wonderful that parents will do that for their children, but it says the weirdest thing that they do is that they love their children more than their spouses and that is truly a challenge because sometimes it is easier to love the children than it is to love the spouse and we can sometimes devote our lives so much to children because of their neediness, because of how cute and cuddly they are that we fail to realize that the greatest opportunity that we have to even love our children is by loving their other parent that that is the tremendous calling that is there and that people truly need to develop an ever more self-giving love within our adult relationships whether that is within marriage or if that is within our own individual, celibate life, whatever it may be, to truly learn that lesson of love.  It’s a challenging thing for us to do because sometimes it’s easier to love those who need us rather than those with whom we are needed. It’s so easy for us to become preoccupied with those who need to be needed rather than those with whom we need to be needed rather than those with whom we share the task of truly loving in the spirit of Christ Jesus and so we’re all challenged by this new standard of love to love with whole-heartedly, to love with a spirit of genuine sacrifice, to love truly in the spirit of Jesus who gave his life totally for us and so we are called to truly give our lives in service and in love of each other, particularly those who are closest within our lives.”