Our Primary Love

July 2, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Commitment, Discipleship, Family, Father Nixon, Love, Mission

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 2, 2023 — Year A
Readings: 2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a / Ps 89 / Rom 6:3-4, 8-11 / Mt 10:37-42
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

There was once a catechist who asked the students in her Confirmation class, “Which part of the liturgy or Mass is the most important?”  She was not prepared for the answer she received from one of her students.  The youth said, “The most important part of the Mass is the Dismissal Rite.”  After the class laughter subsided, the catechist asked, “Why did you say that?”  The youth said, “The purpose of the Eucharist is to nourish us with the Word of the Lord and the Body and Blood of the Lord, so that we may go forth and bear witness to the Lord and to bring the Kingdom of God into existence.”  The student continued, “The Eucharist does not end with the Dismissal Rite.  In a sense, it begins with it.  We must go forth and proclaim to the world what the disciples of Emmaus did.  We must proclaim that Jesus is raised from the dead.  We must proclaim that Jesus lives on.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus gives His disciples an extended teaching on mission, or ministry.  In the first part of the of the gospel, Jesus describes a missionary, or minister, who is worthy of the name “Christian.”  He said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” (Mt 10:37-38)

Why would Jesus say such a thing?  Before we can answer this question, we must deal with a more fundamental one.  Why do we love?  What is it that motivates us to love another person?

It is good that we perceive the person.  A man loves a woman because he finds something good in her:  her compassion, her joy, her patience, her kindness.  The fact is, however, that everything that is truly good comes from almighty God.  As we are told at the end of Eucharistic Prayer III, “All good things have their source in the Lord, even those good things which come to us through other people.”  So, yes, a man loves a woman because of her compassion, joy, patience, and kindness, but the only reason a woman is compassionate, joyful, patient and kind is because God has given her the grace to be that way.  This is what Bishop Fulton Sheen was getting at when he said, “It’s only because we are loved by God that we are lovable.”  God, who is love, places some of His love inside of us and that grace is what makes us attractive to others.

Consequently, it makes perfect sense for Jesus to tell us in today’s gospel that our love for Him must be primary.  We are to love Him with all our heart, because if it were not for Him, there would be nothing lovable in us or in anyone else.  In fact, if it were not for Jesus, we would not even exist.  As Saint Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians, “In Christ Jesus everything in heaven and on earth was created, and in Him everything continues in being.” (Col 1:16)

It also means that a minister or a missionary must be willing to accept and carry the cross or sacrifice, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  In other words, a missionary or a minister of Christ must be someone who is in love with Christ in such a way that love of parents, children, spouses, and even oneself, assumes secondary importance.  To take up one’s cross and follow Jesus is a sign of one’s death, since the way to the cross leads to Calvary and the crucifixion.  The only worthy missionary or minister of Christ is the person who has found a reason to live and to die, and that reason is Jesus Christ Himself.

A case in point is the story of the young Spanish Jesuit by the name of Alfredo Perez Lobato, who was killed in December 1973 in Chad, Africa, at the height of the civil war.  While he was helping refugees, a stray bullet hit him.  The story of his short life is featured in the book, A Community in Blood, along with those of other Jesuits killed in different third world countries.  When asked by superiors why he volunteered to join the mission in Chad, Alfredo replied, “Why do I want to go to this poor country?  It is simple.  Because it is difficult.  I believe that I am called to the difficult and the demanding.”

It is natural for us to dream of a life of comfort, luxury, and pleasure.  If we are honest about it, most of our prayers are directed towards alleviating our suffering.  In short, we want a life free from trials and sacrifices.  Perhaps this is the reason why we attach our lives to the pervading values of the modern world so life can be easy and convenient.  In the book, Crossing on the Crossroad, it is said that the reason why people are frustrated is their failure to accept the crosses in their lives.  The moment we try to escape suffering, we encounter suffering ten times more.

Thomas Merton said, “The truth that many people never understand until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because the smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.”

To conclude His teaching, Jesus encourages the people to be generous with His messengers.  Let us take these words of Jesus to heart and act on them to the best of our ability.  Remember, we do not need to give gold or silver.  A cup of cold water is enough.

“Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.   And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” (Mt 10: 41-42)

Jesus has entrusted us with the ongoing work of the Kingdom.  It is a work that does not allow any human attachment to frustrate the reign of God.  The work of the Kingdom transforms our average hearts into hearts which will forever sing the goodness of the Lord.

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The Art of Loving

May 14, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Courage, Faith, Family, Father Nixon, Humility, Love, Prayer

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 14, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 / Ps 66 / 1 Pt 3:15-18 / Jn 14:15-21
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

Someone once said that man is an able creature, but he has made 32,647,389 laws and hasn’t yet improved on the Ten Commandments.

In our gospel today, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) Jesus is telling us that the reason we follow God’s commandments is that we love Him.  That is why it is wrong to say that we follow God’s commandments because we are afraid of Hell, or that we follow God’s commandments because we are expecting something.  We go to Mass not because we are afraid of committing mortal sins.  We help the poor and needy, we try to be good, we try to please God simply because we love Him.  That should be our motive in doing good and in loving God.

So, what are God’s commandments?  There are only two: Love your God and love your neighbor.  When Jesus says to keep these commandments, He is telling us that love is not a mere word, but an action.  The question is how to make God’s love concrete and possible in our lives.

In psychologist Erich Fromm’s book, The Art of Loving, he suggests ways to make love concrete and possible.  First, love must have discipline.  Discipline means doing something hard because it is right.  We are usually not very disciplined people.  Why?  Because we tend to avoid the difficult to take the easy way out.  Sometimes in following God’s commandments and loving God, we want the easy way out.  Even in our prayer, when we get very busy, we sometimes say that God will understand, and I will pray tomorrow.  But sometimes when we talk to God, we say, “Lord, you are the most important person in my life.”  Is that really true?  If God is truly important in our lives, why do we keep suspending our prayer life?  Why do we keep delaying our prayer life, or making excuses in terms of our relationship with Him?

We often do not do what is right because it involves sacrifice, even in our dealings with one another.  That is why we sometimes try to have that kind of culture where we silence the right in order not to hurt the wrong.  Or in other words, we try not to speak the truth, so that we won’t be rude to evil.  That’s why we try not to speak about anything that is immoral, especially if the person who is doing it is a family member or close friend of ours.  We don’t tell them that a man loving another man or a woman loving another woman is wrong and sinful.  We don’t say that because we don’t want to appear to be rude.  We don’t want to make that sacrifice.

Again, let us not forget what St. Maximilian Kolbe once said, “There can be no real love without sacrifice.”  Sometimes when we love, especially with our children, or with other people we love, we need to speak the truth, and we need to make that sacrifice.  Love is hard.

Today we celebrate Mother’s Day.  The love of a mother for her children is a classic example.  This reminds me of a story of a mother named Patricia, who donated part of her liver to her son, Carlos, who underwent a liver transplant surgery because of a congenital liver disease.  When the mother was interviewed, she said, “If God will allow, maybe I will have another child like Carlos.  I will continue to donate any part of my body to make sure my child will live.”  That’s the heart of a mother, willing to sacrifice for her children.

During World War II, in France, an officer was walking with his soldiers.  They noticed that a bush was moving, so the officer asked one of the soldiers to check the bush.  The soldier found a starving mother with her two sons.  The officer took a loaf of bread and gave it to the mother.  The mother broke the bread in two pieces and gave it to her two sons.  The soldier asked the officer, “Sir, is she not hungry?  I thought she was starving.”  The officer replied, ‘No, it is because she is the mother.”

That’s the heart of a mother – willing to sacrifice herself for her children.  That’s why today on Mother’s Day, children, always remember to love your parents, especially your mother.  Yes, it’s good that you send greetings to your mother, but always remember to show her that you love her and be respectful towards her.  You cannot just be kind and loving in your words, but also show it in your actions.  Sacrifice.

Second, Erich Fromm says that we must have patience.  Love is not something that comes abruptly.  We have to work at it and let it grow.  A person with patience knows how to wait.  That is why we must be patient with ourselves and with others.  Patience is also very important in our desire to love God and our neighbor.

A story is told of Abraham, who one evening was standing outside his tent, and there was an old man walking on the street, around eighty years old, and this man was cursing God.  Because Abraham was a good servant of God, he invited the man into his tent.  He washed his feet and then fed him.  While the man was eating, the man continued to curse God.  Abraham was infuriated and grabbed the man and threw him out of his tent.  That very evening, God spoke to Abraham in a dream, and God asked, “Abraham, where is that old man?”  Abraham replied, “Lord, I threw him out of my tent because he does not worship You and he kept cursing You.”  God said, “Abraham, Abraham, for eighty years that man has disowned me.  He has kept cursing me, but I continued to give my love, my grace, and my patience to that man so that he will come back to me.  But you cannot give your patience and love to that man.”  And Abraham woke up crying.  Patience.

Third, Erich Fromm tells us that love must have humility.  Brothers and sisters, the biggest obstacle to love is pride.  Sometimes it is very difficult to say I’m sorry.  Let us not forget what St. Augustine once said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils.  It is humility that makes men as angels.”  True.  Pride can ruin our lives, can ruin our morality, can destroy our desire to love God and our neighbor.  Humility is the foundation of real love.

President Lincoln once got caught up in a situation where he wanted to please a politician, so he issued a command to transfer a certain regiment.  When the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, received the order, he refused to carry it out.  He said that the President was a fool.  Lincoln was told what Stanton had said and he replied, “If Stanton said I am a fool, then I must be, for he’s nearly always right.  I’ll see for myself.”  As the two men talked, the President quickly realized that his decision was a serious mistake and without hesitation, he withdrew it.

Unlike the story of King Herod and John the Baptist: When Herod gave the word that John the Baptist should be beheaded, even though he knew that what he said was wrong, he did not take it back.  That was pride.  So, humility is very important in our desire to fulfill the commandments of God, which is to love him and our neighbor.

Fourth, love must have faith.  Faith means that we believe even if we do not have any evidence whatsoever of our beliefs.  The deadliest enemy of love is lack of trust and faith.

Lastly, love must have courage.  In many ways, it is the most important of them all, because we have to reach out and touch other people.  How often, we do not reach out because we are afraid of rejection.  It takes a lot of courage to love.

So loving is what life is all about.  But it takes discipline and patience.  It needs faith and trust, humility and courage in order to make it concrete and possible.  To remain in love with God every day, we must remind ourselves that our most important appointment of the day is our appointment with God, and that our most important agenda is to love Him and our neighbor.

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The Sacred Heart

April 23, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Deacon Mark, Easter, Eucharist, Family, Light, Love, Sacraments

Third Sunday of Easter
April 23, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-33 / Ps 16 / 1 Pt 1:17-21 / Lk 24:13-35
by Rev. Mr. Mark De La Hunt, Permanent Deacon

[Parish children received their first Eucharist today.  The first part of the homily is directed toward them.]

The Eucharist makes us like Jesus, who said, “I am the light of the world (Jn 8:12).”  Therefore, when you receive Holy Communion, you become a light in the world. This is why St. Paul wrote that you are meant to “shine like stars in the world (Phil 2:15).” So, it is right that you all decorated candles and put them on the windowsills. Candles are a sign of Jesus, our light. There are candles by the ambo to signify Jesus, the light as the Word of God, and by the altar, Jesus, the light as the body and blood of God.  Jesus wants us to be a light in the world. How?

Jesus told us how. He said, “Love one another as I have loved you (Jn 13:34).” So be kind to everyone, especially those that others are mean to or make fun of or ignore. Be loving to everyone in your home. Obey your parents; remember that Jesus was made perfect in His obedience (Heb 5:8-10). Spend time with Grandma and Grandpa; you are their joy, and the time you spend with them is a great treasure for them. Ask them to tell you stories from their life and you will learn much. Pray; God loves it when you talk with Him. He becomes a good friend when you spend time talking to Him every day. And by the way, if someone tells you the bread is only a symbol, you say: “That is heresy (Fr. Dan Beamon homily).”

[Rest of Homily]

As the youth are receiving First Holy Communion in our two parishes this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the mechanics of receiving. Please do not think I am judging your technique when you come forward. What I want to do is reduce the number of times Jesus’ precious body falls to the floor and to remove some of the anxiousness of the priest, deacon, and extraordinary Eucharistic ministers. Here is a refresher.

  1. Wash your hands before Mass.
  2. Walk up reverently. You are approaching your Savior and King.
  3. While the person in front of you is receiving, bow reverently.
  4. If receiving by hand:
    1. Put your hands in the shape of an X-cross making one hand a throne for the Holy Sacrament.
    2. If you are right-handed, make the left hand the throne and vice-versa if you are left-handed.
    3. Place your hands at chest height.
    4. After the minister says, “the Body of Christ,” you say out loud, “Amen.” Speak louder than normal if wearing a mask, as we cannot see your lips moving.
    5. After Jesus is placed in your hand, step to the side, stop, and reverently place our Lord in your mouth before walking back to your seat.
  5. If you only have one hand available, you should receive on the tongue.
  6. If receiving on the tongue, be sure to open your mouth and extend your tongue beyond your lips.

Now let’s open up God’s word a bit. Have you ever wondered what Jesus told the two disciples on the road to Emmaus? Oh, to have been there and hear Jesus, the Word made flesh, teach scripture! In the gospel Luke wrote, “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures (Lk 24:27).” Fr. Pablo Gadenz, in his commentary of the Gospel of Luke, suggests that we could be hearing what Jesus taught them when we read what is said by His followers in the Book of Acts (395).

We just heard an example of that in the first reading from Acts. Peter interprets to them what referred to Jesus in the scriptures. Peter said, “For David says of [Jesus]: I saw the Lord before me…My flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld (Acts 2: 25-27).”  He was quoting King David’s Psalm 16, which we sang a few minutes ago.

I think Fr. Gadenz is on to something here, and it is exciting. It makes me want to read Acts again with the mindset that when Peter and Stephen speak, they are sharing what Jesus taught on the road to Emmaus! (By the way, the Hallow app has a daily podcast for the Easter season where Jonathan Roumie reads one chapter from Acts each day and Dr. Scott Hahn explains it.)

In this Road-to-Emmaus gospel passage, there is another important point. Jesus explains the scriptures and then He blesses and breaks the bread. This is what we do at every Mass. Why did Jesus not simply get straight to the Eucharist and then talk about scripture? Was the order important or simply coincidental?

In Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire Bible, he points out, as does Fr. Gadenz, it is the “divine purpose” to use scripture to gradually prepare our hearts and minds and to stir up our faith, but it is not until we see the Eucharist that we truly see Christ (Barron 445). This makes sense. Those two disciples were sad and agitated and downcast. Once they heard the Word of God and heard it explained, their hearts were “burning within them (Lk 24:32).” Then their “eyes were opened” and they were ready to see Jesus in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24: 31).

This is why it is so important to get our families to Mass. A mountain hike, a walk at sunset on the lake shore, holding hands with that special someone on the porch, gazing at the moon on a starry night, etc., reveal God to us Who is in all things, but ONLY at Mass do we hear Him clearly in the Word and see Him clearly in the Eucharist.

Bishop Barron says of Jesus in the Eucharist that He is “breaking his heart open in compassion.”  What images does this bring to your mind? One is the priest breaking the consecrated bread and placing a piece in the chalice of blood and water. This is evocative of the blood and water that poured forth from His side on the cross, which is the like the image we celebrated last week on Divine Mercy Sunday with red and blue rays coming from His heart. And then I think of the Eucharistic miracles posted in the hallway of Holy Name of Mary, where the Eucharist became flesh. Scientists who were asked to analyze the tissue, without knowing where it came from, said that the tissue is that of a heart. Do you see a recurring image here? It is the image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart.

No one knew Jesus’ heart more intimately than his mother, Mary. St. Pope John Paul II wrote about this, “And is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled Him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic communion (Ecclesia de Eucharistia)?” John Paul is describing the Third Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary, the Nativity, and is tying it to the Fifth Luminous Mystery, that he gave us, which is the Institution of the Eucharist. Imagine Mary looking at her Son’s heart in her hand at her first Holy Communion and her mind flashing back to holding Him in her arms at Bethlehem.

Mary, pray for us that every time we receive your Son in Holy Communion, we will see Him with your eyes and love Him with your Immaculate Heart.  Amen.

 

Citations

Peter Kreeft. Food for the Soul – Reflections on the Mass Readings for Cycle A. Word of Fire 2022.

Bishop Robert Barron. The Word on Fire Bible_The Gospels. Word on Fire Ministries 2020.

Fr. Pablo T. Gadenz. Catholic Commentary of Sacred Scripture. The Gospel of Luke. Baker Academic, 2018.

Katie Yoder. 15 Quotes from St. John Paul II on his love for the Eucharist. Catholic News Agency (CNA) Oct 22, 2022.

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A Very Good Friday

April 7, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Baptism, Discipleship, Forgiveness, Guest Celebrants, Lent, Love, Mission, Obedience

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
April 7, 2023 – Year A

Readings: Is 52:13-53:12 / Ps 31 / Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9 / Jn 18:1-19:42
by Rev. Jay Biber, Guest Celebrant

There is a dimension to our faith that allows us to see and experience things in a way that’s deeper and contrary to the initial impression.  For instance, the very name that we have for this day is Good Friday. How can that be? How can that be, this greatest chaos, the unimaginable? The unimaginable is not that God rose from the dead, the unimaginable part is God in Christ died. He really did, that’s the unimaginable. How could this happen? This absolute chaos, and we call it good.

The letter to the Hebrews was written late enough in the first and second generations of Christians, for them to have had some time to reflect as a community, to absorb this trauma, and to reflect on it and then begin to develop a vision.

In the reading we just heard, “Son though He was.” When we are called son or daughter in baptism, it means you’re an inheritor, you’re in the will. I guess we would say everyone is conceived a child of God from that moment on. This familial relationship, this being a son, this being an inheritor of God, comes with baptism. God willing, it doesn’t end there, but begins a long journey, a great adventure of life.

Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and when He was made perfect. But wasn’t He perfect the whole time? In His mission and role as the Son of the Father, the first begotten of the Father, the mission becomes perfected in the obedience to the Father’s plan. The Father says this is what has to be done.

These people I love are yelling at me right now, are shouting insults at me right now, are denying they know me right now.  To bring these people whom I’ve loved from the beginning, to bring these people back up on the rails, back on track: This is the perfection. John even uses the word glory.

When I hear the word glory, I assume he must be talking about the Resurrection or maybe the Ascension. That’s the glory.  But no, when John writes about glory – “I will draw all people to me” — that’s not at the Ascension, that’s on the cross, the perfection of obedience. When He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.

How unusual is this faith? We can’t really wish anyone a “Happy Good Friday.” Yet this is the day the work gets done. It’s a work that gets done not only so that we can benefit from it, so that we can take the fruits of it and be nourished and grow up in it and become an adult in it and become mature in it and go through a whole life with it as the mysteries continuously unfold and more will be revealed, always more will be revealed.

It’s not just so that we can benefit from it. The strange part is the work gets done so we can do it. We become perfected by that openness, by that obedience to the will of God. Accomplish in me, Lord, what You will. Accomplish in me, Lord, what You will, and let me get out of the way so You’re free to do what needs to be done.

What is so good about this day is of course we see disaster; we see the emptiness of it. Did you notice in the liturgy that there was no singing when we came in today? There was no singing because of the day. You realize something different is going on right now, and it is. But it’s a great gift.

I believe that if you can imagine it, you just say, Lord, I haven’t got this figured out now, and I’ll never get it completely figured out. But somehow, I’m looking at You and Your suffering. I’m thinking of the scourges, I’m thinking of the crown of thorns, I’m thinking of Peter’s denial, I’m thinking of the apostles running away. No illusions, but in that is Your glory. and when my heart becomes shaped over the years along Your lines, maybe I’ll be able to do something like that. because I will have morphed through Your grace into You.

I was talking to a parent up in Lexington a couple of days ago, and one of the kids is having a hard time and just feels that it’s impossible to be good enough for God. It’s funny how conscience works. I suspect parents can identify with this. With one child something happens, and it goes right by. With the other one, the same word is said, and it sinks in deep, and it alters things.

Similarly, I’ve seen over the years people who have a particularly keen conscience. We use the word scrupulosity when it really goes to the far end and becomes a serious problem. But some have a greater conscience than others and have a deeper sense that whatever their sin is, it is so serious and irredeemable that not even God can touch it.

This is what happened to Judas, as we hear in Matthew’s gospel. He felt that somehow his sin was greater than God’s grace could ever be. His sin was greater than the divine mercy could ever be, and so, he acted accordingly in his hopelessness.

Remember that God didn’t wait until you’re perfect to love you. That’s what we learned today. God didn’t wait for you to be perfect to love you. Yes, Good Friday is very good, because, as St. Paul says, nothing can keep us from the love of God.

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The Woman at the Well

March 12, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Deacon Barry, Eternal Life, Faith, Healing, Lent, Love, Reconciliation, Thanksgiving

Third Sunday of Lent
March 12, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Ex 17:3-7 / Ps 95 / Rom 5:1-2, 5-8 / Jn 4:5-42
by Rev. Mr. Barry Welch, Guest Homilist

For a few moments I’d like for you to put yourself in the place of the woman at the well in today’s story.  Imagine you’re her and you’re there.  It’s dusty and it’s hot, even in the shade.  The dust and the wind are hot, and they’re sticking to you because you’re sweaty.  You’re a long walk from the village. You’re alone.  The jars are heavy even when empty.

I am the woman at the well, and I swim in dirty waters.  I exist and I swim in the waters of this world, this culture. It can be a cesspool really. The world doesn’t love me; it doesn’t care about me. Society, the culture, they wish for my power as their own. I’m worth what I produce for it. My dignity is ambiguous, my morality is ambiguous, dependent on what others might see in me or gain from me, so I behave the same. This culture that corrupts me by bombarding me with its messages: consume, it’s your truth, love whomever you’d like, if it feels good do it, the baby is not a person, the old man is a burden. This culture that has shaped me is the same that will condemn me, shun me, ignore me, separate me whenever it seems helpful to it. Governments, business, academics, art, media, these can’t save me. I am the woman at the well, and I swim in dirty waters.

I am the woman at the well, and I am a cast away, rejected, shunned, alone with my sin and my pain. There’s a reason I’m at the well far outside of town, alone with the sun at its peak and the heat. I am a cast away. That’s because no one will be there, no one carries heavy containers of water in the heat of the day; they go in the early morning or the late evening when it’s cool. But me, I go when no one will be there, no one to deride me, no one to judge me, no one to make me feel worse about myself than I already do. No one can help me, no one cares, no one loves me. Do I even deserve love anyway? I just need to exist. I just need to get by. I am the woman at the well and I am a cast away.

I am the woman at the well and I doubt Him. Why talk to me? Why care about me? I am a woman, I am from Samaria, I’m a pagan. You don’t know me; You can’t know me. Everything about me is the antithesis of what someone like You would value. I float in sin. I doubt You can help me. You don’t even have a vessel, a container for the water, and my darkness is deep, too deep for You to reach. How could You sustain me for even a few moments, let alone eternally? No, this doesn’t make sense, this must be some trick. You must want something from me or wish to gain something by this encounter. I am the woman at the well and I doubt Him.

I am the woman at the well and I accept Him. Wait, He does know me. He really, truly, knows me. He knows my heart, hardened and despairing as it is. I’ve never met Him, and yet He softly identifies everything about my darkness. He dips deeply into my well of shame and loathing and somehow accepts it, accepts me. He accepts who I am. His grace is bigger than my past, much bigger. He’s met me in the dark and barren places of my heart where I am and offered me His love without requiring anything. And yet, I feel I want to return to Him somehow. I want to acknowledge this immense gift. I welcome His gift. It’s what I’ve unknowingly been seeking. He has risen me to pure living water. I’m unsinkable. I live. I am the woman at the well and I accept Him.

I am the woman at the well and I know Him. I’m not even going to haul the water back or the containers. I’m lighter than air now. I’m restored. My burdens lifted. My guilt and shame washed away. I’m floating. But what about the others? They don’t know, they can’t know. They swim in dirty waters. They are castaways. They doubt love. If they knew Him, they might be light. I must share. I must let them know, because even me, and all my darkness and brokenness and doubt, even me He loves and wants to save. You’ve got to meet Him. There’s nothing greater, nothing more important, nothing more beautiful. He is the living water, salvation, the Christ. I am the woman at the well and I want you to know Him.

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Love Extra

February 19, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Charity, Discipleship, Father Nixon, Love, Mission, Obedience

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 19, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Lv 19:1-2, 17-18 / Ps 103 / 1 Cor 3:16-23 / Mt 5:38-48
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

Late one night, a cheerful truck driver pulled up to a roadside café for some refreshment.  As he was eating, three wild-looking motorcyclists rode up to the café’s entrance.  The atmosphere became tense as they walked in wearing dirty leather jackets and tattoos.

Immediately they picked out the truck driver as the target of their meanness.  One poured salt and pepper into his coffee.  Another took his apple pie, placed it on the floor, and squeezed it under his dirty boot.  The third overturned his coffee, causing it to spill into his lap.  The truck driver said not a word.  He merely stood up, walked slowly to the cashier, calmly paid his check, and left.

“That guy isn’t much of a fighter, is he?” sneered one of the motorcyclists.  The waiter behind the counter peered out into the night and replied, “Yeah, he doesn’t seem to be much of a driver either.  He just ran his truck over three motorcycles.”

Brothers and sisters, in today’s gospel, Jesus says, “Offer no assistance to one who is evil.” (Mt 5:39).  He is really a good teacher, because He goes on to give an example of what He means.  He says, “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.”

During the time of Jesus, Roman soldiers controlled Palestine, and they had life and death power over Jewish citizens.  In other words, Roman officers could commandeer Jewish citizens and could order them to carry some objects for a distance – one mile for example.  In other words, as Christians, we are expected to do more, to do extra, to go beyond our human transactions.

The Code of Hammurabi that existed between 1793 and 1750 BC, expressed the law of retaliation which we heard a while ago, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” the very first verse of our gospel, Matthew 5:38, which was not a command to do violence, but to set limits on giving vengeance for an offense.  The debtor must pay his debts, but the creditor must never ask for more than the amount involved.  Payment for one’s misdeeds must be in the same measure – no more, no less.  In other words, before Jesus Christ, this precept was a law of mercy.

For example, if one of your friends knocked out one of your teeth, you could retaliate by knocking out one of his.  If someone struck you in the eye, you could return the strike, but no more than one eye.  But Jesus did not like this law and presents a real challenge – love your enemies and pray for your persecutors.

Why?  It is because Christians are expected to do more.  A bishop once said:  To love those who you know as friends is not extra.  To give to those who have given you in return is not more.  To work because you are paid a salary is not beyond.  To give in order to be given in return in the form of honor, praise, or promotion is not extra.  All this – friendship, salary, honor, praise, and promotion, are ordinary human grounds of transactions.  Everybody, even pagans and bad people, do this.

Jesus also adds to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Mt 5:44).  Whether we like it or not, we like to return evil for evil.  We are like a rubber band; you stretch it hard and once it snaps, it stings.  Gandhi said that if we take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, then the world would be filled with blind and toothless people.  In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, it is said that if the moneylender Shylock were to be allowed to cut a pound of flesh from the body of Antonio, who failed to repay him, what would become of us, but a walking bone.

The Divine Counsel, however, tells us to return good for evil.  In fact, St. Paul reminds us to conquer evil by our good deeds.

Just like what a mother said to a priest after Mass, “Father, we were late for Mass because on our way to church, we were robbed inside the bus.  There were six of us, and four young robbers pulled knives on us.”  Expressing concern, the priest asked, “Are you all right?  What can I do to be a help to you?  Do you still have money for your fare back to your home?”  She replied, “We are a bit shaken, but we are OK, Father.  I was able to hide enough money for our fare.

“But I want to make a request.  You see, I was touched by your gospel reflections about the man who was robbed, and a Good Samaritan came to help.  If you really want to be of help, in your next Mass, please pray for the young men who held us up.”  The priest was shocked because he was praying for kind and loving people most of the time, for sick persons, etc., but never in his life had the priest prayed for robbers.  If he would not pray, who would pray for them?

What Jesus said is a challenge to all of us.  But why do we have to love even our enemies and not hate them instead?  It is because first and foremost it is extra and more.  To love those who are not lovable, to give to those who cannot give in return, to serve those who cannot serve in return, and to forgive even our enemies.

The other reason is that we are created in the image and likeness of God.  Our vocation as humans is to resemble our Father in Heaven.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

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Raise the Bar

February 12, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Baptism, Deacon Barry, Life, Light, Love, Mercy, Saints, Sin

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 12, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Sir 15:15-20 / Ps 119 / 1 Cor 2:6-10 / Mt 5:17-37
by Rev. Mr. Barry Welch, Guest Homilist

I was at lunch several years ago with a very kind priest, and we got to talking about a young man we knew who started missing Mass and avoiding church and the sacraments and prayer life. In fact, he was openly disagreeing with many of the Church’s teachings. I said, “Father, even so, he’s a good guy; he’s nice and thoughtful, kind and generous,” and as I was saying that, the priest started getting visibly agitated. And pretty strongly he said, “Deacon, I’m tired of hearing ‘He’s a good guy, or a good boy, or a good girl.’ We’re not called to be good; we’re called to be holy.”

So, I had to kind of think and take it back a little bit; one, it was uncharacteristic of his demeanor, but two, it made me think quite a bit about it. And in a way, in today’s gospel, Jesus is saying something similar.

Does it work for me to say, “I’m ok, I’m a good guy, I haven’t killed anyone.” That’s our goal? That’s our standard? That’s the bar that we set for ourselves in our moral and spiritual lives? Just to simply avoid the major obvious sins, and I’m ok, I didn’t kill anyone, haven’t cheated on my wife, haven’t bad mouthed God. I haven’t lied, at least no big ones, just little white ones.

No, brothers and sisters, that’s not the goal. Jesus says today, “I have come.” That’s pretty important, the Son of God has said, “I have come.” What’s going to follow? I have come to fulfill the law and the prophets. I have come to fulfill, to extend, to complete, to make perfect. I have come. I have come. He’s come to call us to something higher, something better, something more noble, something heaven-like.

He shows us that worldly dominance passes the closer we get to God, and it’s replaced with humility, and love, and mercy. He sets the bar higher and calls us, not only to recognize that bar, especially the thou-shalt-not bars, but to look the other way for our goal: to look the other way from that bar, and to look inside for the ideals, inside of us where He planted His Holy Spirit at our baptism.

Do I look at that boundary, that thou-shalt-not-kill, that murder boundary, and just see how close I can get to it in my life without crossing over it into moral badness, if you will? I stay safe on this side: I really want to hurt the guy, but I’m not stepping over the line.

Or do I hold in my heart the love of my neighbor, the love of the other, and of their God-given true dignity? Do I work to remove my anger, or my resentment, or my jealousy, and replace it with love? Love, wishing the good of the other, wishing for that person to join me in the kingdom?

The ideal is a high bar and it’s not defined by a list of borders, a list of boundaries, a list of what’s morally good and what morally isn’t. It’s not contained in two lists: Here are the do’s and here are the don’ts. The bar is a change in our hearts; it’s a modification of the direction of our lives and our love.

What must I do to follow Jesus, to be a good Christian, to become holy? Every now and again in my spiritual life I ask myself that question, and I imagine some of you have asked it as well; what am I supposed to do to be a good Christian? And oftentimes when I’m talking with folks in RCIA who are considering coming into the Church, they have that same general question: What do I do to be a good Christian, and follower of Jesus?

And in moments of clarity, very rare moments of clarity, I can give them an answer: If you want to be a good Christian, doing what Jesus asks is a good start. Pope Francis had a similar answer, and he didn’t ask me for any help when he came up with it. He explains, “So if anyone asks what one must do to be a good Christian, the answer is clear: We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.”

We’re in the third out of four weeks of going through the Sermon on the Mount during this ordinary time. Two weeks ago, we did the Beatitudes: “Blessed are they…” Last week we were salt and light. We’re still salt and light this week too. Next week we have another reading from the Sermon on the Mount.

So Pope Francis says, “Just do what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.” That’s pretty easy, isn’t it? Pretty simple? Well, it isn’t quite so easy when we probably have to hear the message over and over. Let’s read about it, let’s pray over it, let’s meditate over the gospel of Matthew, chapters five through seven. Wash, rinse, repeat. Read it again.

Let it sink into our hearts, so they’re pointing the opposite directions of those boundaries, those borders, the “I didn’t kill anybody.” Because the message is love centered on Christ, and it is directed toward others, wishing, praying for the good of the other. It’s our relationship in the world. It’s salt and light, and it’s mercy, forgiveness and mercy.

Now remember, mercy doesn’t mean leniency. It doesn’t mean morally compromising. It doesn’t mean lowering the bar. When Jesus is giving His teaching today, you don’t see Him lowering the bar, He’s extending the bar into the heart. He’s not appeasing the social norms or the civil norms or the governmental norms of his day, He’s not doing it then, He’s not doing it today, because the ideal is high and we as Christians are bound to Him and our goal is heaven, our goal is to be a saint. That’s my goal, I pray that it’s your goal as well. It’s a very high ideal.

Mercy is there, mercy is available, sure, when we fall short of the ideal, when we miss the mark, which is another way to say when we sin. But Jesus and His Church don’t lower the bar, because it’s that important. Instead, we are called to extend His love, and extend His mercy, to live a moral life. We can’t do that alone; we cannot do it by ourselves; we need help.

And we get help, praise God we get help, because we’re washed of our sin and filled with light at our baptism, the light of Christ at our baptism. So that Jesus accompanies us and assists us because he becomes our moral compass and He is our only goal, He is our moral bar, and our earthly wish is to carry Him always in our hearts, because we don’t want to just be a good guy or a good girl or a good woman or a good boy. We don’t want to be just a good guy, but we want to be saints.

At the beginning of every mass, we have this opening prayer, when Father says “let us pray” after the Gloria. It’s called the “Collect.” That’s when we’re all collecting together and beginning the Mass, and that prayer is a summary of the purpose of today’s Mass. I want to repeat it because I think it’s beautiful: “O God who teach us that You abide in hearts that are just and true, grant that we may be so fashioned by Your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to You.” Isn’t that beautiful? Praise God and amen.

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Our Mother

January 1, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Blessings, Christmas, Faith, Family, Father Nixon, Life, Love, Mary, Trust

The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
January 1, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Nm 6:22-27 / Ps 67 / Gal 4:4-7 / Lk 2:16-21
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

During the Christmas season, the image of the Most Holy Virgin Mary with her child comes readily to mind.  We see this image in all Nativity things, right in front of us, and in many other places, on many Christmas cards or postcards that we receive from our families or friends.  It should also be in our hearts.

We have come together here today as a family of God on this first day of the New Year.  We celebrate the maternity of Mary, the event around which this feast is celebrated.  As we start the New Year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, thus reminding us of our other mother:  of course, Mother Mary.

When a child is in danger, it will instinctively call out, “Mom” or “Mama.”  That’s because the essence of being a mother is care, love, help, support, and concern for her children.  As a Jewish proverb puts it succinctly, “God cannot be everywhere, so he created mothers.”

As we commemorate this solemn feast, the Church has for us these brief reminders.  In the year 431 AD, the Council of Ephesus, an ecumenical council of bishops of the Catholic Church, settled whether Mary was to be called “Mother of Christ” – Christotokos, implying Jesus is merely human, or “Mother of God” – Theotokos.  The Council decided on the title Theotokos, Mother of God, for Mary.  The Council said that Mary is rightfully the Mother of God, therefore affirming the divinity of Christ.

In the Bible, the very first person to refer to Mary as the Mother of God is her own cousin, Elizabeth, who said in a loud voice, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  There is nothing wrong with invoking Mary with the title “Mother of God.”

So what do we mean when we invoke Mary as the Mother of God?  When we say Mary is the Mother of God, we do not mean that from all eternity, our God took His Godship from Mary, or that Mary is the source of the Godship of Jesus.  As the Catholic Church teaches us, Jesus Christ was eternally begotten by God, Light from Light, True God from True God, eternally begotten by the Father.  It means that Mary did not give Jesus Christ His Godship; Mary only gave birth to the humanity of Jesus Christ.

However, right from the moment of conception, the baby in the womb of Mary was truly God and truly man at the same time.  Therefore, the baby born from the womb of Mary is God and man.  Mary gave birth to God and man.  When we say Mary is the Mother of God, it does not mean that she gave Godship to Jesus; it only means that Jesus was God right from her womb.

Saint Thomas added to this by asking, “Do mothers beget bodies or persons?”  As one priest asked, “Do our mothers merely give birth to our bodies, or to ourselves as persons?”  As people, of course.  Thus, Mary conceived in her womb the Son of God, not just His human nature, but His divine nature as well.

If we look at the attitude of the mother, it is very beautiful.  At the start, when she still bears the child in her womb, she must take care of herself, in order that the child is not in danger.  She can’t sleep at night, because she watches the child sleep.  As the child goes to school, she’s the one preparing the provisions.

But on the other hand, the womb of the mother becomes a battlefield or war zone, the worst enemy of the unborn, defenseless child.  The enemies of the unborn child are many:  abortion, artificial birth control, cigarette smoking, drinking hard liquor, and many more.  That is why the child, while still in the womb of the mother, experiences rejection, insecurity, human rights violations, and lack of love from the parents.  This is not so of Mary, who follows God’s will to be the mother of Jesus, even though she is in danger of being punished through stoning.

There was a teacher who had just given her primary grade class a lesson on magnets.  In the follow-up test, one question read My name starts with M, has six letters and I pick up things.  What am I?  She was surprised to find half of the class answered the question with the word mother.  Of course, the answer was supposed to be magnet.

People especially need their mothers in times of need, of uncertainty, or insecurity.  We need our mothers to pick us up.  Perhaps even more so for those of us who are already old, not necessarily physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

So as we begin another year, with all the uncertainties that it may bring us, the Church is telling us that we need our Blessed Mother Mary.  May we all be like Mary with our total trust and faith in the Lord.

Let us not put our hopes in someone or something that may only give us false and ephemeral hope in the end.  Instead, we place our entire lives in the loving and caring presence of our God who is always there for us.  He is Emmanuel, “God with us.”  With Mary, we pray that the Lord will bless us this new year, and all the days of our lives.

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His Coming in Gentleness

December 25, 2022 |by N W | 0 Comments | Christmas, Comfort, Father Nixon, Hope, Humility, Joy, Love, Thanksgiving

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
December 25, 2022 — Year A
Readings: Is 52:5-10 / Ps 98 / Heb 1:1-6 / Jn 1:1-18
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

There was an inquisitive 4-year-old who happened to be rooted strongly to the “why” and “tell me” stage of life. The little boy was helping to sort out ornaments and said, “Daddy, what does ‘ignore’ mean?” The father explained, “Ignore means not to pay attention to people when they talk to you.”

Immediately, the little boy looked up at his father and said, “I don’t think we should ignore Jesus.” Puzzled, the father knelt closer to his animated son and replied, “I don’t think we should ignore Jesus either, son. I think we should give Him our full attention. So why do you say that we ignore Him?” “But daddy, that’s what the Christmas carol says: O come let us ignore Him.”

Kids sure say the darnedest things sometimes. But you know, brothers and sisters, often we actually get so caught up in the frenzy of preparations — parties, shopping, and decorating — that we appear to ignore the true meaning of Christmas and fail to prepare a place in our hearts to come and adore Him.

Let us adore the baby Jesus in the manger. A baby easily wins the heart and love of anyone with human feelings, but how much more does this baby win our heart and love? Imagine Jesus, the son of God and our savior, born in a stable and placed in a manger instead of a crib. When God comes, He usually comes in humility, silently and peacefully, without causing a great disturbance.

God’s humble coming in Jesus would not surprise us if we knew God better, but of course we will never know God sufficiently to understand. So, no matter how much we try to understand God becoming human in Jesus, we will not be able to comprehend. It will remain a mystery. The best reaction is that of the shepherds, simply to praise God.

So let us praise God now in our own words. As we look at the baby Jesus, we think of the mystery of God’s love for us, and ask ourselves: Why did God, who is almighty and all powerful, become small and powerless as a baby? Quite simply out of love for us. God became human so that we might become more like God. If Jesus had not come as a human like us, we might have had difficulty in believing God really loved us, but now we know for sure.

John the Evangelist says this is the revelation of God’s love for us: that God sent His only son into the world that we might have life through Him. This Christmas, brothers and sisters, let us thank God for revealing His love for us in Jesus, that He who is so big and powerful became so small and weak for us, that He became one of us to help us be more like Him, to have life through Him.

So, as we see baby Jesus in the manger, we reflect on God’s way being a way of gentleness and tenderness. God’s way is not one of violence, but gentleness. There’s a lot of goodness and love in the world but God is always tender and loving. As we look at baby Jesus in the manger, we see that He is the answer to today’s problems.

Instead of violence, in baby Jesus in the manger we see gentleness. Instead of hatred, in baby Jesus in the manger we see tenderness. Instead of selfishness, in baby Jesus in the manger we see love for us. So let us ask baby Jesus to help us to be gentle, tender, and loving with those around us, as He was in the manger.

Jesus in the manger gave us hope. In the darkness of our world His light has shone. His coming in gentleness encourages us to hold out the hand of reconciliation, to help one another, to work for peace. And we remember the message of the angels: Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth, peace!

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Christ’s Presence

May 15, 2022 |by N W | 0 Comments | Discipleship, Easter, Eucharist, Father Nixon, Love, Obedience, Prayer, Uncategorized

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 15, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Acts 14:21-27 / Ps 145 / Rev 21:1-5a / Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Easter.  Each Sunday after Easter, God’s messages through the readings help us in living our everyday lives.  The main theme of today’s readings is that Jesus’ disciples are recognized by the people around Him because they follow His commandment of love. 

There are four elements through which Jesus wants to make His presence among His disciples during His lifetime and after His resurrection.  These four elements are:  the cross, prayer, Eucharist, and love. 

The first element is the cross.  Jesus says, “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Me, is not worthy of Me.”  (Mt 10:38, Lk 14:27) Crucifixion was a form of Roman punishment during Jesus’ time, especially for criminals and rebels.  When persons were condemned to be crucified, a part of the sentence was that they should carry the cross on which they were to die, to the place of execution. 

For us, to carry the cross is a figurative expression which means that we must endure whatever is burdensome, trying, or is considered disgraceful in following our Lord, Jesus Christ.  The cross is the symbol of doing our Christian duty, even at the cost of the most painful death, just like Jesus Christ, who obeyed God and carried out His work for the salvation of all, though it required Him to die upon the cross in order to do it. 

The second element is prayer.  Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”  (Mt 18:20) The best secret to unanswered prayer for whatever we need, is asking it in Jesus’ name, and not in the name of revenge, of consolation or pleasure, of an easy way out, of fame or shame, of good works or recompense for charitable donations. 

First and foremost, our prayer must never be selfish.  Selfish prayer cannot find an answer.  We are not meant to pray only for our own needs, thinking of nothing and no one but ourselves.  We are meant to pray as members of a Christian community.  When prayer is unselfish, it is always answered.   Let us always remember that the answer to our prayers is not according to our wish, but the will of the Father through Jesus Christ.  That is why we should not separate ourselves from His Son. 

The third element is the Eucharist.  Matthew 26:26 says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take and eat.  This is My body.’”  At the Last Supper, Jesus eats a Passover meal with His disciples in view of His passion, death, and resurrection.  The bread now is Jesus’ body, being broken and given to His disciples and to all of us.  The wine is now Jesus’ blood, poured out for the redemption of the world.  At Mass, the bread and wine are substantially changed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the body and blood of Jesus.  The bread that we eat is not a symbol of Christ’s body, but really is His body. 

The last element is love.  Jesus says in today’s gospel, “I give you a new commandment:  love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”  (Jn 13:34) Jesus gives us this new commandment that we should love one another because He loves us.  This teaching of Jesus about loving one another takes different forms. 

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Mt 22:39) Ordinarily, for Jewish people, a neighbor is only a fellow Jew.  But for Jesus, the term neighbor includes any individual who is in need of help.  That is what we understand in the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Every person in need, whether he lives next door or a town away, whether she is beautiful or ugly, is a neighbor. 

Jesus asks His disciples to use as a measure in loving other people, the love they have for themselves.  They are to treat another person as their own flesh and bone.  That is not an easy thing to do.  We normally have different standards for ourselves as compared to others.  The natural tendency is to give ourselves first priority or utmost care and to provide others with less or even no attention.  By asking us to love a neighbor as our own self, the Lord simply is helping us overcome what we call narcissistic tendencies.  We all belong to the one body of Christ, and we need to behave like we really are part of one another. 

In today’s gospel, Jesus presents an even more demanding version of the commandment to love.  He says, “I give you a new commandment:  love one another as I have loved you.”  (Jn 13:34-35) The Lord teaches His disciples to use as their standard for loving, not only their love for themselves, but His love for them. He knows that our way of loving can easily be tainted with selfish motivations.  Hence, He challenges us to love one another according to the way He has loved us.  

But the question is, what is this Christ-like love?  It is a love that is agape.  A love in spite of and not “love if” or “love because.”  Agape is unconditional love:  a love that is not motivated by how lovable the other person is.  It does not say, I’ll love you if you become valedictorian of your class, or very successful.  Or I’ll love you if you can afford to buy me a beautiful car, etc.  It is love for even the unlovable, including the poor and one’s enemies.  His love is self-sacrificing, unselfish, unselective.  The love of Jesus is also not merited love which is bestowed on those who possess adorable qualities.  It never says:  I love you because you are considerate.  I love you because you are faithful.

We are all called by Jesus to do the same thing:  to love each one not because he or she is lovable, but in spite of the fact that he or she may not be lovable.  We are to love even our enemies and sinners also.

There was a little girl who was born without an ear.  She became a shy and introverted person.  There were times when she would go home crying because her classmates made fun of her.  When she became a teenager, her mother took her to a surgeon who performed an ear transplant on her.  The operation was successful, and she became a normal and happy person.  Not long after, she had a boyfriend.  After several years, they decided to get married.  On the eve of her wedding day, she went inside her mother’s room to thank her.  As she embraced her, she noticed something strange, something absent.  She realized that beneath the long hair of her mother was a missing ear.  She cried and said, “It was you!  All these years you didn’t tell me it was you.”  The mother replied, “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to be sad for me.  I did it because I want you to be happy, to see you happy with your life.  You don’t lose something when you give it to someone you love.”

I recently received a text message from a friend that will make us reflect about life and love.  It says, “LIFE is a four-letter word that is very meaningful.  L stands for love.  I stands for inspiration.  F stands for forgiveness.  E stands for everlasting.  No matter who, what, where, and when you found life, always remember, only God can satisfy your life.” 

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