30th Sunday in OT Cycle A, “The Letter of THE LOVE” Exodus 22:21-27, 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10, Matthew 22:34-40 ONCE AGAIN, Jesus of Nazareth is put to the test: "TEACHER, WHAT COMMANDMENT IN THE LAW IS THE GREATEST?" I find it interesting that as far as the Son of God is concerned; love for God and love for neighbor are One and the same!! LOVE…. Ever noticed how pretty much everyone already has an opinion already formed about love? And rightly so, for we’re all made for it. A number of 4 to 8-year old children were asked to give their opinion about love – here's what a few of them had to say: Mary Ann, age 4, says: "Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." Tommy, age 6, says: "Love is like a little old man and a little old woman who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Bobby, age 5, says: "Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." We all have an opinion about love... And so what tends to happen whenever we try to understand what GOD'S LOVE IS LIKE for us, we usually end up taking our own personal definition of love and saying: "Well, God's love must be like this… or like that… but only really a lot." Here's the thing, it's not possible for us to ever reach the meaning behind the kind of love that God IS and or HAS for us by going towards it that way.... GOD’S LOVE is not like anything. God’s love IS… and at best, WE, sometimes are faintly like God’s love... GOD’S LOVE is not to be compared!!! GOD’S LOVE shows itself, it has revealed itself in Christ on the Cross. For with his life, his death and his resurrection: Jesus the ‘God-Man’, shows us a NEW DEFINITION OF LOVE. And it's a definition that cannot begin with human beings as a starting point saying that "God's love is like this or like that". It’s through Christ, with Christ and in Christ that we are led to discover a New Definition of Love along with a NEW MEASURE of love that we as Christians are called to exemplify towards God and towards our neighbor. There was a woman who used to go for daily walks across a large field when one day, she noticed a young boy flying a kite. Thing is, there was something a little odd about the way he was standing and the way he was holding on to that string. She was about to pass by him without saying anything – but then she noticed that he was blind!! By now, the boy was completely aware of her presence and so she asked him: "Do you like flying kites?" "I sure do." With her curiosity having been peaked, she then asked him: "Well, what's it like when you can't see it?" The boy answered, "I might not be able to see it – but I sure can feel it tugging'!" That's KIND OF HOW LOVE WORKS… I mean anybody here who's ever been in the early stages of love – you know those early days when someone grabs a hold of your attention and you find yourself being unable to think of anything or anyone else other than that person, you replay the last conversation you had over and over in your mind cause it leaves a smile on your face… The ‘Effect of Love’ at work upon us is not something we can see with our sense of sight – but we sure can feel it TUGGING AT US on the inside much like that little boy felt the tug of that kite in his hands. Sgt. FIRST CLASS Michael Eaton is a member of the 101st airborne at Fort Campbell. He's the kind of soldier who over the course of the passing years has experienced a good number of combat tours. A while back he wrote an article highlighting a few things about life from a soldier's perspective while on mission. For example, did you know that many soldiers carry the last letter received from a loved one in the pocket of their uniform that’s located right over their heart? The reason why they do that while out on Mission is so that, should they experience their last moment on earth, they will do so with A PIECE OF THEIR LOVED ONE standing right next to their heart. As you can imagine, that folded up piece of paper with ink on it means more to a man or woman out on the battlefield than anything else! It has to be one of the most powerful TUGS OF LOVE that will every be experienced by relatively few human beings... While a letter like that serves to bring GREAT HOPE, there exists a letter of a different kind out there that is feared and dreaded by every soldier. They say that it's actually the worst thing that can happen to a SOLDIER while ON MISSION. According to Sgt. FIRST CLASS Michael Eaton it's not the thought of being killed or of watching a friend die that’s feared most on the battlefield. The silent enemy lurking in the back of every soldier's mind is called the “Dear John letter…” Here's how the “Dear John letter…” MENTALLY AND SPIRITUALLY, takes out the heart of any given soldier. It all starts off when the words: "MAIL CALL" echoes throughout the camp. The fuse is lit once the soldier rips open the envelope: the Interior Bomb goes off by means of words strung together that serve to convey the following reality: "Dear John, this is goodbye: don't come home, the house will be empty when you get here, I found someone else and I’m taking the kids with me..." No, a piece of paper with ink on it has never pierced the flesh or broken the bones of any human being. But those who have witnessed it, those who've experienced it, will tell you firsthand that the damage done by a “Dear John Letter” is worse than a bullet from enemy fire. For bodily wounds can heal; but mental injuries, the piercing feeling of one's heart being shattered in 1 million tiny pieces ? Those of us who never have served or ever will serve in the Army, might be thinking that we've been spared from the bomb of a "Dear John Letter", but in actuality: when we taken the plight of the human condition as a whole, when we actually SPIRITUALLY AWAKEN to the reality of life on this planet by means of bursting out of our cocoon like existence within the matrix of our modern-day culture, then we find ourselves staring DEEP INTO THE EYES of this inevitable fact: WE’RE ALL SOLDIERS! And right now, even as we speak, we’re all out on a MISSION – battling against the forces of evil and hatred at work in our world with the standard of the cross as our Emblem! St. Paul makes that pretty clear for us in his letter to the Ephesians chapter 6: “Put on the whole ARMOR of God, so that you may be able to stand against the devil’s tactics. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities, against the Powers, against the World Rulers of this present darkness, against the Spiritual Hosts of wickedness in the Heavenly places. Therefore TAKE THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD: or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the Evil Day...” Getting back to the essence of things: the question we need to ask ourselves while in the middle of this war for souls is: "WHAT DOES GOD'S LOVE LOOK LIKE IN ALL OF THIS?" Just as soldiers out on Mission carry a piece of their loved ones in a pocket over their hearts because IT SPEAKS TO THEM OF HOME – of the place where their heart desires to be once again… In the same way, our God has written us a Love Letter that speaks to us of the place where we desire to be for all of Eternity. God's love letter is one that has been etched out upon the pages of history by means of the passage of time. Thing is, God's love letter did not come to us by mail, but rather through the passage of time – Through lives lived and sacrificed out of love for the SAKE OF LOVE OF GOD and LOVE OF NEIGHBOR!! THE BIBLE, and in a special way the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John will forever remain: God's Love Letter to us... If we’re ever to understand, to feel, and to plumb the depths of what God's love is like: of what it means to “love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind and to love our neighbor as yourself”, to understand this: we must be like those soldiers out on Mission who continually read over and over again their loved ones letters… We MUST hold the Word of God right next to our hearts – ALWAYS!! And while Our Mission comes to an end on the day we breathe out our last breath, for now, we can find comfort in this Truth: WE NEED NEVER WORRY about receiving a “Dear John letter” from God. For in Jesus, God became one of us in order to lead us on to Victory! In this Eucharist, God’s strength and life will be poured directly inside of our hearts so that we can channel the presence of his love into the lives of others. The Eucharist is God's "TUG OF LOVE " made INCARNATE! Reminding us that while we might not be able to see heaven with our physical senses here on earth, by means of living a life of love for God, a life of love for neighbor: we sure can FEEL Heaven’s Presence TUGGING at us from within.
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