How will you LOVE, today?

St-Augustine (1)

“Owe no debt to anyone, except the debt that binds us to love one another. He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. Love never wrongs the neighbor, hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 13:8, 10

The above reading from Romans comes to us in the Liturgy of the Hours during Mid-day prayer this morning. It is a helpful reminder for us as we continue throughout our day to ask ourselves if we have loved the other as other. Love in its truest form always takes us outside of ourselves to see the other as no longer other, but as someone we have come to know and see Christ in.

A few days ago (Friday, I think.) we heard from the book of Ruth where Naomi has reminded Ruth that she is not bound to stay and care for her. Ruth in turn says to Naomi:

“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.…” – Ruth 1:16

Ruth shows us that even though she is not bound to Naomi’s family anymore that it is important to welcome the foreigner, the stranger. “You people shall be my people, and your God, my God…”

So, the question remains; How are you?; How am I?; loving today? Am I searching for Christ in those that I meet? In the stranger? In the new seminarian I meet walking down the hall? Am I welcoming? Do I extend some form of hospitality to them?

Now, this is all fine and dandy, but practically, how does it apply to my life? How do I recognize the presence of Christ in another?

“Were not our hears burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32

Luke reminds us in The Emmaus story, of Christ’s presence present in those small moments, but also in those chance encounters. Let us not look past another, because of what they wear, who we think they are, how they sound, but let us listen with the help of the Spirit to the voice deep inside of Christ, burning within our hearts and calling us to love those that we encounter just as much as we love ourselves!

“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine, who’s Feast we celebrate today recognizes that incredible power that comes about from listening and casting ourselves onto and into the Heart of the one who loves much. We were made to love like Christ. We were made to allow our hearts to rest in Him, in the one for whom they burn.

So, I ask us to consider again: How have I loved today? Do I need to start again? Do I need to seek forgiveness? How can I love more like Christ? Christ came to fulfill the law, and the way he did that was through his message of love and mercy. How can I love someone else as passionately, as personally, as whole-heartedly as Christ loves me, as he loves you?

St. John of the Cross reminds us that “at the end of our lives we shall all be judged by Charity.” We shall each be judged by how we loved. How will you love today?

If your brother has sinned against you…Community living

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Being a seminarian means living in community. It can be rough at times, you live, eat, pray, sleep, and work besides 40 or so men your own age and you really get to know each other. I mean REALLY get to know each other. I always say that my seminarian friends are my best friends that I have ever and will ever have, and that is true. We share intimate things with one another, it’s all part of the formation process.

Whether it be asking your brother to pray for you because you are struggling with a particular sin, asking them about their spiritual life practices as a way to enhance your own, or just unloading all of the struggles that you have been having that day to someone and having them listen and give you support, seminary community life is full of such moments. In Formation, both spiritual and human, we are encouraged to go deep, to  in a sense: “Stretch out our nets for a catch” Luke 5:4. Formation can be a challenge. There, I’ve said it. Having someone else tell you what they see you struggling with, holding you accountable, and encouraging you to grow can be hard. Why? Because we as humans like to be private! We don’t like to let people inside and see our broken-ness, our failings, our hurts, and our fears.

But, it is necessary! For growth! For Holiness! For Heaven!

Living in community, has it’s moments. Good and bad. I like to normally focus on the good, but for a short post, I want to focus on the bad.

“If your brother has sinned against you…”
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
 and there recall that your brother

has anything against you, 
leave your gift there at the altar,
 go first and be reconciled with your brother. Matthew 5:23-24

Living in Community, we tend to rub down each other’s hard edges into smooth spots, but in order to do that, we find our sharp spots and those tend to hurt. Christ, in Matthew’s Gospel says that when we go to the Altar and recall that our brother has sinned against us, we should first go and make amends with him, before we continue at the Altar. This has always been something that I have found beneficial to myself. If I am going to go and receive communion, I have to be free of hatred, envy, anger, toward my brothers. The sign of peace that we give to our closest neighbors at Mass is just that. A sign of peace, of an end to division, an end to anger against our neighbor.

God has a sense of humor, or at least he likes to make me smile and say, “Gee, thanks God! I’ve really been foolish this time!” There’s countless moments, I find, as I go about my day, in which I laugh at my own stupidity. Laugh at my own humaness.

Recently, I went to Mass in the morning after finding out the night before a sin that my brother had committed against me. It was an action which really cut close to home and made me feel quite upset. I had prayed the night before for God to give me the strength to deal with it and for Mamma Mary to help me to forgive him. Lo and behold during Mass the next morning, celebrated in Mary’s honor I was near the brother who sinned against me. While I struggled with the idea of forgiving him, when the time of peace came around I felt an immense sense of peace and as I offered him a sign of peace I made peace with him.

There is much to be said of forgiveness. Christ, forgave his killers as he hung across the cross, countless saints have forgiven their persecutors. Imagine what this world would be like if people learned to make peace with one another and forgive each other’s short comings. Something which I pride myself in trying to remind myself constantly that I am a sinner and when others sin against me, I could have sinned against them first. Let by-gones, be just that. By-gones! Let now-be’s, be now-be’s!

Live in each moment. Take each day, each encounter as a gift from God. Strive for what is eternal! Leave behind the temporal vices of this life! Forgive, be at peace, reconcile yourselves to each other. If your brother has sinned against you, do not let the sun go down on your anger, forgive him. Because hopefully in the future, he will forgive you.

murillo