The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Who do you love and cherish the most? God did not intend for us to be alone, but to be with others. He gives us many opportunities for developing relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Why does Jesus seem to ignore his own relatives when they pressed to see him? His love and respect for his mother and his relatives is unquestionable. Jesus never lost an opportunity to teach his disciples a spiritual lesson and truth about the kingdom of God. On this occasion when many gathered to hear Jesus he pointed to another higher reality of relationships, namely our relationship with God and with those who belong to God.
God offers the greatest of relationships
What is the essence of being a Christian? It is certainly more than doctrine, precepts, and commandments. It is first and foremost a relationship – a relationship of trust, affection, commitment, loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, mercy, helpfulness, encouragement, support, strength, protection, and so many other qualities that bind people together in mutual love and unity. God offers us the greatest of relationships – union of heart, mind, and spirit with himself, the very author and source of love (1 John 4:8,16).
God’s love never fails, never forgets, never compromises, never lies, never lets us down nor disappoints us. His love is consistent, unwavering, unconditional, and unstopable. Nothing can deter him from ever leaving us, ignoring us, or treating us unkindly. He will love us no matter what. It is his nature to love. That is why he created us – to be united with him and to share in his love and unity of persons (1 John 3:1). God is a trinity of persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and a community of love. That is why Jesus challenged his followers and even his own earthly relatives to recognize that God is the true source of all relationships. God wants all of our relationships to be rooted in his love.
The heavenly Father’s offer of friendship and adoption
Jesus Christ is God’s love incarnate – God’s love made visible in human flesh (1 John 4:9-10). That is why Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep and the shepherd who seeks out the sheep who have strayed and lost their way. God is like the father who yearns for his prodigal son to return home and then throws a great party for his son when he has a change of heart and comes back (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus offered up his life on the cross for our sake, so that we could be forgiven and restored to unity and friendship with God. It is through Jesus that we become the adopted children of God – his own sons and daughters. That is why Jesus told his disciples that they would have many new friends and family relationships in his kingdom. Whoever does the will of God is a friend of God and a member of his family – his sons and daughters who have been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ.
Our brothers and sisters redeemed in the blood of Christ
An early Christian martyr once said that “a Christian’s only relatives are the saints” – namely those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and adopted as sons and daughters of God. Those who have been baptized into Jesus Christ and who live as his disciples enter into a new family, a family of “saints” here on earth and in heaven. Jesus changes the order of relationships and shows that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood. Our adoption as sons and daughters of God transforms all of our relationships and requires a new order of loyalty to God first and to his kingdom of righteousness and peace. Do you want to grow in love and friendship? Allow God’s Holy Spirit to transform your heart, mind, and will to enable you to love freely and generously as he loves.
“Heavenly Father, you bless us with many relationships and you invite us into the community of your sons and daughters who have been redeemed by your son, Jesus Christ. Help me to love my neighbor with charity, kindness, compassion, and mercy, just as you have loved me. In all of my relationships, and in all that I do and say, may I always seek to bring you honor and glory.”
The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
OBEDIENCE: THE ROAD TO LOVE
“Whoever keeps His word, truly has the love of God been made perfect in him.” 1 John 2:5
The purpose of the Christmas season is to grow greatly in love for Jesus. To grow in love requires God’s grace, our willingness to accept His grace, and a process by which we are transformed and made more capable of loving. We go through this process of transformation by taking step after step in obedience. “By obedience to the truth” we purify ourselves “for a genuine love” (1 Pt 1:22). “The way we can be sure of our knowledge of Him is to keep His commandments” (1 Jn 2:3).
By obedience, Mary conceived Christ and loved Him more deeply than anyone has ever loved Him. By obedience, Joseph became the foster-father of Jesus and grew from love to love. By obedience, the shepherds and wise men saw the infant Jesus and began a new life of love forever. By obedience, Simeon “came to the temple” (Lk 2:27) where he met Jesus, the Light to the Gentiles, the Glory of Israel (Lk 2:32), and the God Who is Love (1 Jn 4:16).
Christmas is a journey into “the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love” (Eph 3:18). We do not know the way, but Jesus, the Way (Jn 14:6), will tell us each step to take. Obey Love on the road to love.
Prayer: Abba, lead me to love with a martyr’s love. Promise: “This Child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare.” Lk 2:34-35 Praise: King Henry II was moved to do public penance for the part he played in the death of St. Thomas. (For related teaching, order our leaflet, Obedience School, or our tape, Obeying God, on audio AV 62-3 or video V-62.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements