From the Pastor – October 25, 2020

US Catholic Mass Times“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Mt. 22:36-40)

In English we use the word “love” in a lot of ways.  We might use it to describe our favorite restaurant, “I love La Petite Grocery.”  We might use it to describe our favorite tech device, “I love my iPhone.”  Or we might use it to describe bigger things, like “I love New Orleans.”  And in all of these usages, it’s used primarily as a superlative of the word “like.”

When it comes to people, the usage of the word “love” can also vary.  We might love our grandparents, our parents, our spouses and our children, but the way we express our love reveals a slight difference in the use of the word.  Love of parents and grandparents is characterized by respect and honor.  Love of children is characterized by guardianship and nurturing.   Love for spouses is different; it’s a love that can be romantic, but it’s more properly characterized as a love relationship of respect and mutual self-giving.

But what about love for God?  Clearly, love for God is unique among all of the other loves.  It’s a love that exists despite the ability to interact in a completely physical way because of the nature of God as pure spirit.  Among the Jewish people the way that love for God was developed was by contemplating divine deeds or witnessing the marvels of nature.  The history of the children of Abraham noted and recorded God’s intervention into the lives of their forefathers, and recognized a love relationship based upon God’s saving help.

But what about us, as Catholic Christians?  Our understanding of love comes to us in the person of Jesus.  Instead of appearing as a spirit, Jesus appeared in the flesh.  The simple fact of God making Himself subject to His creation revealed the love of God in a different way.  Although, as humans, we have no ability to be equal to the omnipotent Creator, God entered into our world to show us love at our level.  And the early Christians used the Greek word for love that Jesus used:  “agape.”  It’s defined as a love that is charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional.  It’s a sacrificial love that is most perfectly understood by gazing upon Jesus on the cross.  It’s the love God has for us. And it’s the love that Jesus calls us to have for each other.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty