Sunday’s Readings at Mass remind me of the following words of a poem titled, “Falling in love,” attributed to the late Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ (1907-1991).
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love,
stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
This poem reminds us of three important things. First of all, we must choose well what we will love above all things. Secondly, fall in love with that which you have chosen well and remain in love no matter what. Lastly, what we love most will decide everything – what we do and endure, why we do it and how we do it, and, ultimately, it will determine our eternal destiny.
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus had just washed the feet of His beloved disciples in a touching gesture of humility and loving service during the Last Supper. How does Judas show his gratitude and appreciation? “He left them” to go and betray Jesus. Imagine the pain in the heart of Jesus. Jesus does not regret His loving gesture, does not entertain self-pity, or blame God for His misfortune. Jesus remains in the love of the Father and He knows that, no matter the intentions in the heart of Judas for Him, that mutual love between Him and His Father will ultimately determine everything and lead to His own glory, “Now is the Son of Man glorified…If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself.”
Jesus also gives us a new Commandment, “As I have loved you, so also you should love one another.” We are not to love others anyhow but we must choose to love well such that our love for others is patterned on Christ’s love for us. Jesus freely chose to love us and to remain in love with us till His last breath on the cross as He let that love determine all that He did and endured for us. We can love others like He has loved us only when we too choose His love above all things and remain in this love always no matter what and let this love determine everything that we do and endure in this life and in our relationships with others.
In first reading, St. Paul and Barnabas call on the Christians in Antioch, “They exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, ‘It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” The message of the Apostles to those who have chosen well to come to faith in Christ Jesus is to remain in the love of God that they have encountered through their faith in Christ because this love will ultimately determine their endurance in this life and, ultimately, their entrance into the kingdom of God.
There are two sure signs that we have really entered into Christ’s victory over death and sin at Easter. First, we have the conviction that God has freely chosen to love us and He forever remains in love with us. Secondly, we also have the conviction that, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus and our participation in His glory, we too can choose to love God above all things as His children and let this love determine all that we do and endure in this life.
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” These words of the Apostles remind us that this world is not heaven but a place of preparation for heaven. Our world is indeed a place of suffering and pain, trials and tears, a place where we cannot hold on to anything forever. But such times of hardships are times that put before us the questions, “What do I love most above all things? Is it God or myself or some other creature?” “What am I allowing to get between God and myself? Is it my sins or my sufferings?” “How am I letting this love for God determine all that I do and endure in this life?” As long as we remain in that love of God that we have been gratuitously brought into in Christ Jesus and let this love determine everything, we will never be disappointed.
The Second Reading paints a picture of the heavenly Jerusalem as a wedding banquet in which God’s love for His people is both continuous and effective even beyond the grave, “God Himself will always be with them as their God. God will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.” Those who remained faithful to the love of God in Christ Jesus even in times of trials and suffering are eternally radiant in joy as this love has indeed determined their eternal destiny.
Our Eucharist is a foretaste and preview of this heavenly reality. In this world of hardships, divine love is poured into our hearts through Holy Communion and we are also offered the grace to hold on to this love no matter what we endure. He has chosen us and He renews His choice for us in this Eucharist. We too have chosen Him and we have chosen well too. He renews His promise to us that He will surely wipe every tear from our eyes, take away all death, mourning, wailing and pain in the heavenly kingdom.
The only thing that He asks of us in this life is this – choose well what we love most in life and remain in this love because this love will indeed determine everything.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!