True Love (2016)
Fr. Martin Fuchs´s sermon on 20thAugust 2016 during the pilgrimage to st. John Nepomuk, Lužnice, Czech republic
Several years ago an elderly lady asked me to have a talk with her and to confess her. She said that she was married, that her first husband was still alive and that the man with whom she has been living, had also been married once. She told me that they were happily married since they loved each other very much. She said that God would certainly not be against this love because He himself was love.
After this preparatory talk I had to tell her that under these circumstances I could not confess her but that she first had to straighten out her relationship. As she had no reason to live with her partner, not even like brother and sister, they would have to separate and only then she could confess.
What men call love nowadays, is often everything else but love. In many cases it is sentimentality,disordered passion and sin because there is no love when God's will is not respected.
Let us have a look at the Holy Scriptures which describe what true love means:
First attribute: We have to love God above everything. “...he that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.“ (Mt. 10:37)
This is what the martyrs exemplified to us with the utmost consistency: Saint John Nepomuk, Saint Hermenegild, the mother of the Machabee brothers. They all put God in the first place and all other persons and goods behind. If we consider the invasion ofthe Muslims, we have to prepare ourselves for the martyrdom.
Second attribute: We have to keep God´s commandments. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he is that loveth me.” (John 14:21)
God has expressed his will in his commandments. If we truly love him, we have to keep his commandments. However, when deviating from his commandments, we know that we do not love him.
Third attribute: Love of God and charity are inseparable. Everything which God created is worth of loving. The higher the good, the more love it deserves. Fortune, honour, health, plants, animals, our fellow men – all this may and must be loved according to the order of God's will.
It is therefore not allowed to humanize for example a cat which means to treat it like a human being, or even idolize it, which means to put it in God's place. Unfortunately, in these days we have to repeat this again and again. There are people who prefer to take care of their animals instead of attending mass, who buy excellent food for them; who organize funerals and have them buried in animal's graveyards. One must not risk his life to save a dog. A dog does not have an immortal soul; it perishes when it dies.
We shall preserve and care for the goods which God gave us but we shall do so within the limits set by him. Christianity is not against nature protection, far from it! But it does not mean to protect frogs andpractice abortion like the “Greens“ do.
We shall do and wish for our fellow men what we do and wish for ourselves. When Christ was asked: “What must I do to possess eternal life?“, he answered: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself.“ (Lk 10:25-27)
Little children already understand when you tell them: “Don't do to anybody else what you don't want to be done to yourself!“ If you see a little child beating another, just ask it: “Would you like to be beaten in the same way in which you beat the other?“
Fourth attribute: We must be ready to make any sacrifice out of this love. This is why Saint Paul writes the following to the Romans: “Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword?“ (Rom 8:35)
Suffering is the touchstone of true love. When Saul converted, the Saviour said to Ananias: “This man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.“ (Apg 9:15-16)
Christ himself had entered into eternity by suffering: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory?“ (Lk 24:26)
And there is no saint in heaven who did not suffer.
Let us remember Good Friday, when we worshipped the cross, when we even kissed it!
May God give us his grace and help us so that we may endure to the end in true love for Him!
Fifth attribute: Love has to be persistent. Saint John describes it in a beautiful manner: “...having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1)
God's love is persistent and permanent. God can't do anything but love. He loves His creatures whether He caresses, rewards, praises or punishes them.
Sixth attribute: Charity covers a lot of sins.
This is what we heard in today's lecture: “Charity covereth a multitude of sins.“ (1 Petr 4:8)
This does not mean that we do not see the sins. However we pass over the faults of our fellow man in order not to unmask him, not to accuse him falsely or not knowing his intention when he acts in a certain manner. We may also overlook his faults because we would not like to be accused of the same faults. Moreover we know the frailty of human nature. A Catholic moral theologian will always point out that everybody is capable of everything. Everybody may become a great saint but also a big criminal.
Let us finally examine the effects of true love. It is for the mere effects that man should love God, his fellow man and himself!
First effect: We experience God's charity. “...For I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon their children unto the third and fourth generation, to them that hate me,and shewing mercy unto many thousands, to them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (5 M 5:9-10) Can there be something greater than this?
Second effect: We will be happy here on earth and eternally in heaven.
“...Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess live everlasting.“ (Mt 19:28-30)
This is a compensation which is not submitted to any inflation and which cannot be compared to any treasure on earth.
Third effect: The remission of our sins will be equivalent to our love.
When Christ was invited by the Pharisee Simon to his house, he promised: “Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her [Mary Magdalena], because she hath loved much...“ (Lk 7:47)
Fourth effect: God reveals himself to us.
We can realize this clearly and distinctly when we remember charismatic saints, for example Father Pio who could look into the hearts and work miracles, who had the gift of bilocation, of prophecy, and so on.
In his farewell speeches Christ mentioned this grace: “...And he that loveth me, shall be loved by my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.“ (John 14:21)
Fifth effect: We will receive indescribable blessings.
In the first epistle to the Corinthians we learn: “...That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for them that love him.“( 1Cor 2:9)
The apostle Saint Paul, “was caught up into paradise, where he heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter.” (2 Cor 12: 4) So he must know about it!
Let us not listen to our fellow men when they talk about love. Let us listen to the word of God! It grants us security in life and death! Amen.