CHARITY; SUPERNATURAL LOVE IS THE GREATEST!!!
For Catholic-Christians, the greatest virtue is charity (supernatural love). Looking up to the cross, it has two dimensions, the horizontal and the vertical. The "Vertical" going up, is our relationship with God. We are called to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, strength. The "Horizontal--- extending out in two directions, is the love that we must show to our neighbor. As we read in the letter of John, "How can you say you love God who you do not see, if you hate your brother who you see? This being said, what are some Biblical passages that challenge us to live out the horizontal dimension of love? Behold!!!
1. James puts it with his characteristic bluntness: "Faith without works is dead!" Therefore, show your faith the way you treat your brother!
2. Jesus said, "Not all who say Lord, Lord, will enter into heaven, but those who do the will of my heavenly Father. " (Mt 7)
3. Jesus said, "I am the Vine and your are the branches... I have called you so that you bring forth fruit in abundance." (Jn 15). Our charity must produce abundant apostolic fruits, in bringing souls to God.
4. The Parable of the Good Samaritan. (Lk10). Jesus is truly present in our neighbor. Age, sex, ethnic background, intelligence or lack of it--- all these do not matter! Jesus is present in all who suffer! Help them!
5. The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich man. (Lk16). The rich man was condemned, not for what he "did", but for what he "did not" do!!!! That is to say, he did not come to the rescue of the beggar outside his door. That beggar was "Jesus in disguise". Blessed Mother of Calcutta stated, "We must see Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor."
6. The Parable of the Last Judgment. (Mt 25). It could not be any clearer in how to find Jesus!
"I was hungry, thirsty, naked, a foreigner, sick and in prison... Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me..." Let us open our eyes to see!!!!
7. The Parable of the Talents. (Mt 25) Cultivating and using our talents, is another way that charity is expressed. St. Ignatius in "The Contemplation to attain love" says that love is manifested in giving. Our talents are given to us by God to be cultivated and given to others generously. Mother Teresa expressed it clearly: "Give until it hurts!" Do you lay down to bed every night hurting for having given so much that day????
8. ZACHEUS. TRUE CONVERSION! (Lk. 19) the acid test of conversion is change of life. The little tree-climber proved to Jesus that he was repentant by offering half of his money to the poor and if he had defrauded anyone, four times as much. Is your charity evident in your desire to do reparation for past damage! Shoulders to the plow!
9. GIVING AND JOY! God loves a joyful giver. For this reason St Paul stated: "There is more joy in giving than in receiving." Remember the acronym: J.O.Y.= JESUS....OTHERS....YOU.... If that is the proper order, interior joy will be the prize!
10. MARY AND CHARITY. Vatican II and Lumen Gentium chapter 8 is on Mary and her role in the church. The Council fathers' highlighted the greatest virtue of Mary: her charity! After Mary received Jesus in her heart in the Annunciation (Incarnation) then immediately, not procrastinating as we often do, "La filsofia de la manana", she moved quickly on an errand of charity to help her elderly cousin in need( Lk 1) us be docile and open to God's inspirations, like Mary, and be ready to help, even though it costs!
Conclusion, All of us are called to live out the Gospel of charity. Look at the cross and contemplate the two bars. The "Vertical" let us go up to God in a fervent prayer life. Then, let us go out to our neighbor in a fiery apostolic zeal. How much should we love God? St Francis de Sales give us the answer: " The measure that we should love God is to love God without measure."