Thursday, May 15, 2008

As already explained, love demands sacrifice. The depth of love one has for another can only be measured by the amount of sacrifice he offers for him. God sent His Son who is co-equal with Him in glory and dignity to come and partake in our human nature, so as to rise the poor miserable mortals to share in His glory (
Roms. 8:17). This is love that surpasses all human comprehension. In addition to this, being in human nature, God the Son reduced Himself to the position of a slave (Ph. 2:6-9), and accepted all sorts of suffering, pains, insults, humiliation and shameful death on the Cross so as to atone for all the sins of man and reconcile him back to God.

Now, He is calling us to reciprocate the love He has shown to us by loving Him more than the transitory pleasures of the world -
“do not love the world or what is in the world. If anyone does love the world, the love of the Father finds no place in him, because everything there is in the world: disordered bodily desires, disordered desires of the eyes, pride in possession is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world, with all its disordered desires is passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever” (1John 2:15-17). This love of the world include: dressing in the way that pleases the world, thereby creating scandals (cf Matt. 18:6-7) and attacking the holiness of the children of God (cf. Matt.5:28), evil gathering, seeking vainglories and empty praises of the world, training your family with the standard set by the modern world, deliberate act in conjugal love to prevent pregnancy (Gen. 38:9), enjoying worldly films, lack of justice, truthfulness and fear of God in the purist of the things of life. Indeed the world and all that it offers are mere shadows, vanities that may distract us and separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:35).
The passage quoted above (
Rom. 8:17) says that we must share in His suffering before we can share in His glory. And that is why God permits crosses, tribulations and sufferings to befall His lovers, through which He measures the love they have for Him (cf. James 1:2); sometimes, it demands giving up our life for Him. We are also expected to give up time for some worldly enjoyments, so as to create time for daily prayers, attending masses, visit of the Blessed Sacrament, time to work in the Lord's vineyard and time to acquire the knowledge of God.
St. Paul said:
my life is already being poured away as a libation” (2Tim. 4:6). Indeed, love of God must be expressed by often denying the flesh, those comfort and pleasures it loves and sacrifice them so as to acquire Divine graces. That is why giant lovers of God like St. Bridget of Sweden prays for nine hours in a day before the Blessed Sacrament. Blessed Cyprian Tansi do often pray the Rosary throughout the night, and lived in a monastery where each member has a specific number of words to speak in a day. St. Magdalen de Pazzi who often received visions and visits from the suffering souls in purgatory offers great sacrifices for their release; sometimes, she exposes herself to excessive cold or hot weather. This same love of God inspired the holy martyrs and virgins like St. Potamiena, St. Agatha, St. Lucy, St. Agnes, St. Cecilia, St. Maria Goretti, St. Philomena etc to reject all the earthly promises made to them and accepted to endure painful tortures till death; instead of offering sacrifice to false gods or defiling their bodies -“If any man wants to follow Me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross, and follow Me. For he that will save his life (i.e comfort of the flesh), shall lose it; and he that shall lose his life for My sake, shall find it. For what does it profit a man; if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26).

Credit: picture is Giotto's "Pentecost"