Crazy Love

Sometimes God just asks too much of us.  I mean it’s one thing to be kind and nice to nice people.  If someones smiles and waves to me I’ll let them over in traffic.  No problem.  And if a little old lady is
struggling with her grocery bags, I’ll be the first one to help her. Don’t even have to be asked.  Doing those kinds of things gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling deep inside.  It makes me feel         g-o-o-d about being a Christian.  I imagine Jesus looking at me and smiling while chubby little cherubs fly around His head playing harps.  Christianity is
easy.

And then I read the Gospel of St. Luke.  Just after His sermon on the
plain, Christ teaches us to love our enemies and “do good to those who
hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”
(Luke 6:27-28).  What?? Love my enemies?  And pray for the people who
mistreat me?  What does God want me to do? Be a doormat?  He’s just
finished telling us how all our sufferings and hardships will be
rewarded if we follow Him.  All those promises of His famous sermon to
the multitudes.  They sound great!  If we mourn, we’ll be comforted.
If we are poor, we’ll be given the kingdom of heaven.  It all sounds
very good and sort of in line with a kind of faith “justice” — if you
follow Christ, you’ll be rewarded.  Then He turns everything on its
head by telling us to do the unthinkable and love our enemies.  More
than unthinkable, it’s un-doable.  Hearing Jesus speak these words
must have made many people in the crowd scratch their heads and wonder
if maybe He wasn’t crazy.  And I think He is.  Crazy in love with us.

Loving an enemy is only possible in and through the love of Christ.
Our human hearts and minds just can’t find a way to return love for
hate.  It goes against everything that comes naturally to our
self-preservation.  But when you invite Christ to control your life,
it isn’t about self anymore.  It’s about Jesus.  When Christ lives His
life through us, we can do the impossible.  As St. Paul wrote:  “I
have been crucified with Christ, yet I live, no longer I, but Christ
lives in me” (Galatians 2:19-20).  That crucifixion Paul talks about
is our Baptism.  In the Sacrament, we receive the grace Jesus won for
us on the Cross.  His life in us continues to grow through Holy
Communion, prayer, and a deepening personal relationship with Him.  We
decrease and He increases.  Crazy.

For me, learning to forgive people who have hurt me comes through
frequent sacramental Confession.  It’s in Confession that we most
profoundly experience the mercy and forgiveness of God.  In
confession, we encounter Love and Love welcomes us home to Himself.
Frequent confession disposes us to forgiveness and allows that grace
to transform our relationships with other people, especially those
whom we may find hard to love and difficult to forgive.  When we are
forgiven by the Lord we find it easier to forgive others.  God’s
design is perfect like that.  Mercy flows from Christ and His life in
us forgives those we call our enemies.  We can live out that
forgiveness by praying for those who have hurt us.  God knows their
needs and their brokenness.  We can ask for a Mass to be celebrated
for their intentions.  What better way to forgive someone than to lay
their needs at the Lord’s altar.  And what joy that gives Jesus.  Pray
a Rosary for them and ask our Blessed Mother to draw them closer to
herself and the Sacred Heart of her Son.  These acts of mercy exercise
the muscles of our faith.  Christ’s love lives through us and we
participate with Him in building up the Kingdom of God.  The kingdom
Christ promises us in His sermon begins in the dark, foul rooms of our
hearts where Love now makes His home.  All are welcome here.  And all
are forgiven!

“Forgiveness is the remission of sins.  For it is by this that what
has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again.”
                                                                                     —St. Augustine

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