Love is more than a feeling. It is a decision to be in a righteous and living relationship with God and others.
―Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?‖ Jesus responds, ―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.
At the Last Supper, when Jesus Christ instituted the Ordained Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist – the greatest of all the sacraments – he mentioned love many times as recorded in the Gospel of John:
Jn. 14:15 – ―If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept… Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal my-self to him.‖ Jn. 14:21.
That last sentence needs to be explained, since we know that God created everyone and loves everyone, for without that kind of love, we would not exist. But just as there are different kinds of love such as between a parent and a child, as distinct from the love between a man and a woman in marriage, so too there is a love that Jesus is talking about that brings new life – the life of sanctifying grace within the soul beginning at Baptism. Baptismal grace empowers the Christian to follow God’s commandments and participate in his seven sacraments appropriately as a son or daughter of God.
This is especially true at Holy Mass which is a representation of the Last Supper, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven – the Paschal Mystery – by which we receive God’s natural and supernatural blessings, depending upon our openness to his Holy Spirit.
Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, “Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.” Jn. 14:22-24.
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father‟s commandments and re-main in his love. Jn. 15:9-10. If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, „No slave is greater than his master.‟ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Jn. 15:18-20a.
It is important to note that this conversation from John’s gospel comes after Jesus washed the feet of his twelve closest disciples, the Twelve Apostles, in the Upper room, also known as the Cenacle. This act of service within the Passover meal shows how important the family of faith meal of the Holy Eucharist is, as well as the family meal around the dinner ta-
ble at home.
It was at the Last Supper that Jesus Christ instituted the New and Eternal Covenant for his family of faith: While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat: this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Mt. 26:26-30.
Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word of the Father who came to us as the Son of Man through the Blessed Virgin Mary, and really and truly comes to us again as the Bread of Life from Heaven through Holy Mother Church at the Holy Mass. The Holy Eucharist is God’s substantial love and divine grace for us, and our reception of Christ in the state of grace is our love in return to God, as well as the prayers, gifts and praise we offer to the Father through the Son, that we might bring Christ back to the world around us to be transformed by divine love.
Peace and Love in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe