Dear Sisters and Brothers,
One Sunday in a mass specially celebrated for married couples a priest preached about marriage. At the end of the service he was giving out small wooden crosses to each married couple. He said, “Place this cross in the room in which you quarrel the most and you will be reminded of Jesus’ new commandment “love one another” and you won’t argue much.” One woman came up and said: “Father, you had better give me ten crosses.”
No number of crosses on the walls of our homes or around our necks will make us Christians unless we practice Jesus’ commandment of love which is of course so very hard to follow. All of us struggle to put into practice this great teaching of Jesus.
Selfishness keeps us shut in, it confines us. It erects barriers, even walls between us and others. What frees us from this captivity is very deep, serious affection for others. Being friends, being brothers and sisters, love-that is what opens the prison. Love frees us from the prison of selfishness.
Brian Keenan spent four years as a hostage in Lebanon. Later he wrote: It is only when we reach out beyond ourselves to embrace, to understand, and to finally overcome the suffering of another that we become whole in ourselves. We are enlarged and enriched as another’s suffering reveals us to ourselves, and we reach out to touch and embrace.
Love always demands the best of us, and brings out the best in us. Being loved gives one a surprising courage and energy. So also does loving. They say: love and the energy will be given to you. Where there is great love there are always miracles. ‘Love is the flame that warms our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to one another.’ (Elizabeth Kubler-Ross)
Christian love, summed up in the commandment of Jesus: ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ Here we are talking about disinterested love, loving even when there is nothing in it for us. This love persists despite hostility and persecution. It is not spasmodic enthusiasm, but an enduring relationship. It expresses itself in service, affection, and self-sacrifice. This kind of love can be achieved only with the help of the Holy Spirit.
On going into prison Oscar Wilde said, ‘At all costs I must keep love in my heart. If I go into prison without love what will become of my soul? Without love what are people? Those who do not love have a poor life. But those who love have a more abundant and fruitful life. What’s the purpose of life if not to love.’ (William Blake) Freedom from selfishness and the ability to love others-that is what life is about.
A doctor, who has been privileged to share the most profound moments of people’s lives, says that people facing death don’t think about what degrees they have earned, or what positions they have held, or how much wealth they have accumulated. At the end, what really matters is who you loved and who loved you.
Those who opt for love open themselves to the possibilities of a greater happiness than they have ever known. Love is well meaning. It makes us fruitful. To refuse to love is to begin to die. To begin to love is to begin to live. While faith makes all things possible, love makes all things easy. Love heals everyone-both those who receive it and those who give it.
Peace and everything good!
Fr. Valery Burusu