Monday, September 9, 2013

Christ first of all; Christ above all

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

First he said that he did not come to bring peace to the world but division: a family will be divided, two against three, three against two. Now, the Lord says: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” The Lord makes very great demands from those who wish to follow him. To follow the Lord means to make him the priority above all priorities. It means putting Christ above all else that we hold dear: above our properties, above our relationships, above our families, and even above our very own selves. St. Benedict, in his Rule says: “Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ.” (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 72.) Christ before all else. Christ above all else.

Prefer nothing to the Love of Christ
Why such great demands on us his disciples? What right has he to demand from us that he be preferred by us before and above all else? This is answered only by looking at who Jesus is: Jesus is the Son of the living God whom we should love with all that we are and all that we have…with all our souls, with all our minds, with all our hearts and with all our strength. Why is this so? It is because God created everything through Him and FOR Him. He is before everything that exists. He holds all things together in Himself. We belong to him on account of the fact that nothing came to be except through Him. We belong to Him because He bought us at the price of His own Blood. In other words, none could love us more than the way the Lord Jesus does. We owe Him our existence. We owe Him our redemption. We belong to Him, we are His people, the flock He shepherds.

In fact, our love for those who we love – our fathers and mothers, wife and children, brothers and sister, and even ourselves – will only find its true meaning in our love for the Lord. He commands us: Love one another as I have loved you. Only in the love of Christ will we be able to love each other in the right way. The virtue of Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all and for his own sake and by which we love our neighbors and ourselves for the sake of Him.
It is only in Christ that we are able to love as he loves – in a detached and pure manner. “Jesus asks us to overcome the instinctive inclination to love in an almost idolatric manner the persons dearest to us.” Loving with “detachment and purity” entails a tremendous amount of self-forgetfulness and self-control. It demands great sacrifice.

Let us prefer nothing to the love of Christ. Let us love him before all and above all. Let our love for each other be pure – that is, let us love each other for the sake of Christ and in imitation of Christ who laid down his life for us his friends. Let us ask our Blessed Mother, whose birth we celebrate today, to help us keep the purity of our hearts and minds. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. 

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