Sacrifice & Forgiveness

The Twelfth Day of Christmas!

We are reminded today that Jesus not only came to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament, but also to undo the Fall of humanity. The loss of Eternal Paradise by our First Parents came through sin, and death became its result. “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another, unlike Caine who belonged to the Evil One and slaughtered his brother.” (NAB, 1JN 3:11-12) Murder is clearly a sin and violation of the Law, but Jesus brought us a new Law of Love, where even the sin of anger, the basis and motivation behind murder, leads to the same judgment: “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” (MT 5:22) “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.” (1JN 3:15)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ IS the Gospel of Love, for Jesus is himself love eternal. We are all sinners and rightly deserve death, but we, as children of God, have received the Good News of Jesus with certainty, and “we know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. Let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” (3:14, 16, 18)

We have been culturally deceived by childhood movies and fairy tales, along with our cultural norms, into believing love should not entail sacrifice, that it’s supposed to be “happily ever after,” but the Truth of love can be found in the Passion of our Lord, in reflecting upon his great love, after having been physically and mentally tortured, beaten, humiliated, abused, abandoned, and crucified, while dying on the cross, he utters, “Father, forgive them.” (LK 5:34)

Lord, make me a person of forgiveness and mercy. I have been forgiven much, yet I hold back mercy, love, and forgiveness from others. Take away my anger and fill me with your love, your True love, love that knows sacrifice, love that knows You. To lay down myself means, at a minimum, to give up my selfishness, my desires, and my ego for love of you. Give me the grace and gifts I need, and when I am tempted, let me remember your Great Passion and see the Crucifix from which you spoke forgiveness. Amen.

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Grace & Righteousness

The Eleventh Day of Christmas!

Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the Devil…. In this way, the children of God and the children of the Devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother.” (NAB, 1JN 3:7-8, 10) Our righteousness is interior, flowing from the heart as a result of God’s abundant grace. Our actions and good works result from the desires and gifts which God has already given us through his salvific grace. Thus, our cooperation, our “yes” to God, and the assent of our will are not particularly exclusive to us as individuals, but are rather ultimately and fundamentally from the Creator himself. All that is good is from God, and the righteousness of his people is the glorification of his grace acting in love.

We are children of the Covenant of Love. Our redemption and salvation are a result of that same love, a deep and incomprehensible love according to which God sent his Only Son into the world, to complete His Passion so that we might receive mercy and forgiveness, atonement for our sins. It is the Love of God, a love like none other, that redeems us and continuously calls us to conversion and unity with him. We are to love our neighbor as Christ, to see Jesus in each other. True righteousness is revealed as we are conformed through his Law of Love and his Covenant of Communion to be Christ in our world, to be his act of love.

Lord, you love me with an unfailing love. All that I do, all of my gifts, and all of my good desires come from you through your grace. Thank you for choosing me, who is unworthy, but is made worthy by you. Allow me to see you in those around me, in my family and friends, in my coworkers and neighbors, and in the suffering, marginalized, and rejected of this world. I want to live your Law of Love; give me your grace. Amen.

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Gracious & Merciful

Oftentimes we forget that God is not only infinite in mercy and forgiveness, but he is infinite in justice as well. We see mere shadows and reflections of true mercy, forgiveness, and justice in our world. The closer we draw to the Lord, however, the better able we are to know “the Lord [who] is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and rich in kindness.” (cf. NAB, PS 145:8) The closer we draw to the Lord, the more we will imitate his perfection of infinite virtue.

This often-quoted verse from Psalm 145, is frequently used in weddings, and several Contemporary Christian songs are similarly titled. It would truly be an incredible world, and most certainly a godly marriage, if we were able to be gracious and merciful with each other, always being slow to anger and rich in kindness. This is our calling if we are to imitate our Creator, if we are to become most perfectly that which we have been created.

Father, teach me to be gracious and merciful with others in my life. I am impatient, selfish, offensive, quickly frustrated, easily angered, and unkind. Forgive my lack of humility. You know my imperfections and my sins. Heal me of them, so that by your grace, I may grow closer to you, and imitate you more and more each day. Amen.

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