Thursday, March 29, 2018

"Love One Another As I Have loved You"

Love is a precarious word. I love chocolate with nuts.. I love canoeing when somebody finds the time to take me.. I love silence and solitude.. I love nature, flowers and mountains..I love to sit outdoors and listen to the whispering breezes.. I love dogs though I don't have one..

We can love many things because they give us a sense of satisfaction and pleasure. We can choose to love people when we find them attractive, good and fun to be with. There is a golden rule: "Love others as you love yourself." But the message we hear on Holy Thursday goes much deeper: "Love one another as I have loved you."

Catholics celebrate Holy Thursday in commemoration of the Lord's Supper. There are three important events and realities conveyed on this single celebration: 1). The institution of the Holy Eucharist 2.) the Institution of Holy Priesthood and 3.) the mandate from Jesus of  love and service to one another. I love Holy Thursday. It is so rich in liturgy and layered with meaning from the Old Testament and New Testament.   I love the sight of priests participating in Chrism Mass with their Bishop. It conveys unity and oneness of purpose anticipating the fullness of the Communion of Saints in heaven.  It is proper that the Holy Priesthood be celebrated this day because the Eucharist is intimately linked with it. The priest, as "in persona Christi", takes us back to the sacrifice in Calvary where our salvation was won. The Holy Eucharist was instituted by Christ so that we are not left orphaned.  It is a gift of himself until he comes again in glory.

Because Jesus chose to give himself up for us freely, he has given us an example that as He had done, so also we should do. Many people think that the convent is a place where loving people automatically happens.  I'm sorry to burst your bubble.  Just like all our brothers and sisters in the world, religious men and women do struggle to follow this commandment of Jesus even in Religious life.  Community life is a daily dying to self, to one's ego and to one's will.  It is not the golden rule that is operational here. It is a much higher call- to love my Sister or Brother as Jesus himself loved him or her. It is his love that is the standard. God does not ask me to like my neighbors but to love them.  Love does not reside in feelings but in the will.  In the past, I was not able to understand this. How can you love someone without liking them? But now I understand. Jesus does not command the impossible.  It will take a long time before one can love as Jesus loved.   The Saints did it.  But it will take his grace and our complete surrender to him "who makes everything new." With God all things are possible.

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