Jesus: the King of charity!

The Angelic Doctor of the Church Saint Thomas Aquinas asserted:  “Charity is THE Queen of all of the virtues.”   Saint Paul states: “Even if I were to give my body to be burned and I do not have love than it is useless.”  (I Corinthians 13) The Mystical Doctor of the Church, Saint John of the Cross adds: “In the twilight of our existence we will be judged on love.”   The Doctor of grace, the great Saint Augustine quips: “Love God and do all you want.”  Another well-known Doctor of the Church, the author of one of the greatest masterpieces on love, The Treatise on Love, Saint Frances de Sales phrases it concisely:  “The measure with which we should love God is to love Him without measure.”

Above and beyond all of these great writers and saints are the words as well as example of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who affirms that the greatest of all commandments is to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and then to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Lk. 10: 25-28). Jesus also reminded the Apostles as well as us in the context of the Last Supper discourse:  “And this is the greatest of all commandments to love one another as I have loved you… There is no greater commandment… By this will they know that you are my disciples if you love one another.   His example proved it by dying on the cross for love of all of humanity.  “No greater love has one than to lay down his life for his loved ones.”

Saint Paul says that love is the bond of perfection and that in the end faith will come to an end as well as hope, but charity will endure forever. (I Cor. 13) Given that charity or supernatural love is paramount in our spiritual life and that on the last judgment that will be our final test (Mt 25) then it is incumbent upon all of us to get to know what charity really is and even more important, to put it into practice in our daily lives.

The following essay will present five different ways in which we can live out the greatest of all commandments--- to love God totally and unreservedly and then to show this love by the way we treat our brothers and sisters. Remember once again the words of Saint John of the Cross: “In the twilight of our existence we will be judged on love.”
Saint Dominic Savio

1.    First it must be stated without stammer nor stutter that SIN is enemy number one in living out to the fullest extent possible the commandment of love.  The saints come for all different times, places, backgrounds, cultures and historical epochs; still, they all agree on this essential reality: sin must be fought against, resisted and avoided at all costs.  Saint Dominic Savio (1842-1857), the patron of the youth, who died at 14, stated as one of his mottos in life on the day of his first Holy Communion:  DEATH RATHER THAN SIN!   Saint Maria Goretti(1890-1902) preferred to die rather than to give into sexual immorality with a man who tried to force her. Therefore, if we truly want to grow in love then we must make a war against sin in our lives. In prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are weakest and most prone to fall into sin and then flee the person, place, thing or circumstance that is the catalyst leading you to fall into sin. Ask Our Lady for the grace to say No to temptation and YES to the love of God in your life. Indeed, every time we say no to the temptation to sin, we are saying YES to the love of God!
Fulton Sheen-- the Hour of Power

2.    PRAYER: COMMUNION WITH GOD.  On a human level lovers enjoy being together. They enjoy talking on the phone, sharing a good meal together, walking on the beach together, dancing together and eventually marrying and forming a family together. Equally true in our relationship with God: there is an ardent yearning to be with God in the cultivation of a fervent, dynamic and loving prayer life.  Lovers of God love to spend time thinking about God, contemplating God, talking to God, receiving God into their hearts in Holy Communion, defending God and bringing others to God, and  even being ready to die for love of God.  Starting today, try to pray more and better and the net result will be your growth in your love for God as well as your neighbor.

3.    Next, if indeed we do love God then we should love what and who God loves most.  In all of God’s creation, the very crown of creation is the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. (Gen 3)  Man and woman is the crown of God’s glorious creation on earth. Also the human person transcends the natural world as well as the animal world by light years and this is not hyperbole! St.  Thomas Aquinas states that one soul is worth more than the whole created universe. The human person exemplifies the powerful TWO D’S!!!  DIGNITY AND DESTINY!  Dignity? Yes, created in the image and likeness of God and once baptized transformed into the living icon of the Blessed Trinity.  Destiny?  Nothing less than HEAVEN! The ultimate destiny of the human person is the salvation of his immortal soul and his union with God forever in heaven, where he will love the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for all eternity.  Therefore, we are all called to love our brothers and sisters, indeed to love all of humanity. Saint John warns us in these stark words:  “How can we say that we love God who we do not see if we hate our brothers and sister who we do see?”   Therefore, starting today, forgive anyone who has hurt you or any person that you have resentment towards and start to serve others.  Saint Paul encourages us with these words:  “There is more joy in giving than in receiving.”  Jesus challenges us to live out the corporal works of mercy in Mt 25.  “I was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, a foreigner and you helped me…” When?  Whenever we do it to the least of our brothers and sisters we have done this in love towards Jesus Christ.
Saint Maximillian Kolbe-- martyr of charity

4.    LOVE IN SUFFERING.  One of the greatest modern saints is Saint Maximillian Kolbe(1894-1941). He was canonized recently by Pope John Paul II as a martyr of charity, or martyr of love.  Why? For the simple reason that he died by sacrificing his own life for a man who had a family. Kolbe preferred to die so as to allow this man to be set free so as to be able to serve his wife and children.  This great martyr, Kolbe, manifested the supreme act of love by imitating Jesus by dying for the loved one.  Kolbe had a simple three step spiritual program that he believed would lead to authentic holiness: 1) Prayer--- we must pray often and well; 2) Work--- our spiritual life demands hard spiritual work to overcome sin and bad habits and to plant virtues; 3) Suffering—finally after we have established a deep prayer work and an authentic spiritual work-ethic we must be willing to suffer and not simply to suffer for the sake of suffering; this is useless—nothing less than masochism!  Rather, in whatever form of suffering we must undergo we must unite our sufferings to the sufferings of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Suffering might be physical, mental psychological, social, economic, cultural, etc.  So much suffering is wasted and lost in our modern world. To sanctify suffering we should unite it to the Passion, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus—the Paschal mystery. However, most especially we should place our sufferings on the altar during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Then when the priest offers Jesus and His suffering (Calvary renewed in every Mass) then our sufferings become one with the sufferings of Jesus and their value is infinite. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen defined the priest as such:  “He is the victim who offers the VICTIM.” In a limited sense all of us are called to offer our victimhood by offering our sufferings to Jesus for the salvation of the world. For that reason Saint Paul states: “We must fill up what is lacking in the passion of Christ.”(Col. 1:24)
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass-- Calvary renewed!

5.    Last but not least we must highlight the ultimate source of love itself: this is Jesus present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, most specifically in the reception of Holy Communion. The saying is true:  “You cannot give what you yourself do not possess.” This saying can be applied to possessing love, giving love and dying of love. Receiving Holy Communion frequently, fervently and faithfully is by far the most efficacious means to attain love, grow in live, live out the Gospel call to love and to eventually die of love. In a certain but very real sense, every time that we receive Holy Communion worthily--- the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus—then we receive the TOTAL CHRIST!   Of course the noblest organ in the human body is the HEART.  Therefore, we can truly say that every worthy Holy Communion that we receive there is actually a HEART TRANSPLANT!  The most Sacred Heart of Jesus becomes one with our own heart, mind, body and soul and there is a real transformation. Saint Paul asserts: “It is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me.”(Gal. 2:19-20)  By the worthy reception of Holy Communion we are transformed and become OTHER CHRISTS! Therefore, if we truly want to skyrocket in the greatest of all virtues—charity, supernatural love for God and neighbor—then a fervent, loving, frequent, passionate, reception of Holy Communion is the secret and most efficacious means.  In conclusion, let us beg Mary the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our loving Mother, indeed the Mother of fair love to help us to grow daily in the greatest of all virtues—that of CHARITY—true love of God and neighbor.  “In the twilight of our existence we will be judge on love.”