From this Sunday’s readings

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus describes our salvation – the kingdom of God, which begins on earth – in these terms:

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.

He uses language which seems steeped in mystery.  I enjoy attempting to explore the unfathomable depths of mystery.  Here Jesus is touching on the mystery of the Holy Trinity.  I want to understand as much as I possibly can about the Blessed Trinity, because my destiny as a faithful Catholic is to abide forever in the cycle of Trinitarian love.

What is the “cycle of Trinitarian love?”  In the early pages of his book, My Beloved Son, Fr Lawrence Lovasik SVD says this about Jesus:

Jesus Christ is called “The Word.”  The Greek term which it renders, logos, means not only “word,” which is its nearest equivalent in English, but the thought which is expressed by the word,…

Based upon this, he offers an enlightening explanation of the Trinity, describing the cycle of Trinitarian love:

God is the fullness of being, the limitless ocean of all perfection and of all life.  He is Being Itself, the necessary Being, subsisting of Himself, and possessing the fullness of all perfection.

There is in God an altogether spiritual fatherhood.  He is Father, the principle of all the divine life in the Trinity.

Being Infinite Intelligence, God perfectly comprehends Himself.  In a single act, He sees all that He is – all that is in Him, the fullness of His perfections – and, in one thought, in one “word” that exhausts all His knowledge, He expresses this infinite knowledge to Himself.  This thought conceived by the eternal intelligence, this utterance whereby God expresses Himself, is the Divine Word.

(…)

The Father begets the Word because He communicates to this Word a nature not only like, but identical with his own.  Scripture calls the Word, the Son.

(…)

Because this Son is perfect, He possesses with the Father all the divine perfections except the property of “being Father.”…the Son ever dwells in the bosom of the Father who begets Him.  He dwells there both by unity of nature and also by the love which They mutually bear to one another.  From this love proceeds, as from one principle, the Holy Spirit, the substantial love of the Father and the Son.

Saint John Paul II summarized the cycle of Trinitarian love this way:

The Father begets the Son by loving him; the Son is begotten by the Father, letting himself be loved and receiving from him the capacity to love; the Holy Spirit is love given in total gratuitousness by the Father, received with full gratitude by the Son, and returned by him to the Father.  (General Audience 29-July-1998)

How do I know that my destiny as a faithful Catholic is to abide forever in the cycle of Trinitarian love?  Because that is what Jesus is telling us in this Gospel, which is confirmed by what we hear St Peter tell us in today’s Second Reading:

For Christ also suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.

Baptized in 1956 by the late Rev Albert Kaczmarek at Holy Trinity Church in Nanticoke PA

Baptized in 1956 by the late Rev Albert Kaczmarek at Holy Trinity Church in Nanticoke PA

Jesus willingly suffered and died because it was the only way in which he could lead me to God.  At my Baptism, I was baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus.  I was cleansed from the sin by which I deserved eternal separation from God, and I was freed to abide forever in the cycle of Trinitarian love.  All I need to do is to be faithful, to love Jesus and keep his commandments, as he tells us at the beginning of today’s Gospel.  Commandments like “love one another as I have loved you,” “deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me,” “if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you,” “if you deny me in public, I will deny you before our Father in heaven,” “love your enemies and pray for your persecutors.”  Challenging, eh?

What happens if I am unfaithful, if I don’t keep the commandments?  If I fail in a serious way to keep the commandments of Jesus, I commit mortal sin.  Here’s some of what the Catechism teaches about mortal sin:

1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

When I prefer to indulge my own selfishness instead of loving Jesus and keeping his commandments, I reject God’s love and Jesus’ saving sacrifice, and I no longer have the opportunity to enter the cycle of Trinitarian love, until I am reconciled to God through the Sacrament of Penance.

So, what I need to do is eagerly and ardently follow Jesus’ instructions at the end of today’s Gospel:

Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Going an entire day without uttering a prayer shows how weak my love for Jesus must be.  Going for days at a time without reading the Bible shows how weak my love for Jesus must be.  Not being able to share my faith with others (as St Peter instructed us today) shows how weak my love for Jesus must be.  Spending hours upon hours in front of the TV shows how weak my love for Jesus must be (even if it is EWTN!).  Wasting on lottery tickets or at Mohegan Sun the money with which the Lord has blessed me shows how weak my love for Jesus must be.  Denying by contraception the new life which the Lord wants me to bring forth shows how weak my love for Jesus must be.  Viewing pornography shows how weak my love for Jesus must be.  There are so many ways to indulge my selfishness; so many ways for me to fall out of love with Jesus.

I need to love Jesus.  My love for Jesus should be growing deeper and deeper as time goes on.  When I fail, Jesus wants me to humble myself and appeal to his mercy by making a good Confession.  And then continue striving to love him more and more.

Good Friday

Crucifix in chapel Mt Saviour 2013.06.04

This is a photo of a crucifix which adorns one of the small altars in the Crypt of the Chapel at Mount Saviour, a Benedictine monastery near Elmira, New York.  If I was a priest, this is the type of crucifix which would precede me down the aisle and reside at the altar for Mass.  It’s a graphic reminder to me of the monumental, pain-riddled self-giving sacrifice freely offered by Jesus so that I might have the opportunity to escape eternal death and the separation from God forever which is warranted by my selfish sinfulness (read what the Church teaches in CCC nn. 606-618).  How can I not strive as diligently as possible to make an appropriate response?!

Here are the meditations for the Stations of the Cross to be led by Pope Francis this evening in the Roman Colosseum.

Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Source of my hope!!

More on Conversion

In the General Audience teaching which Pope Francis gave on Ash Wednesday, he pointed out that:

Lent is to be lived as a time of conversion, of personal and communal renewal through drawing close to God and confident adherence to the Gospel.

Looking ahead to the Easter Triduum, the memorial of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord, he notes:

Lent prepares us for this moment that is so important, for this “intense” time, a turning point which can foster a change in each one of us, conversion. We all have need to become better, to change for the better. Lent helps us and thus [allows us] to come out of our weary habits and lazy addiction to the evil that deceives us.

He advises that reflection on Christ’s redemptive work will help me to change my heart:

The awareness of the wonders that the Lord has done for our salvation disposes our mind and our heart to an attitude of gratitude to God, for all that He has given us, for all that he fulfills for His people and the whole of humanity. Our conversion begins here: it is our grateful answer to the stupendous mystery of the love of God. When we see this love that God has for us, we feel the need to come closer to him: this is conversion.

To enhance my reflection on what Jesus has done for me, I’ve been ruminating on these sections of the Catechism:  nn. 51-53, and 599-618.

This is how I see it:  If I do not live as a faithful intentional missionary disciple of Jesus – completely ‘sold out’ for Christ, willing to lay down every aspect of my life for Him – I am at great risk of experiencing eternal death – separation from God for all eternity.  My selfishness-based sin deserves that eternal death.  The sacrificial self-giving love of Jesus has saved me from eternal death, due to the mercy of Our Father.  My own extreme faith in, love for, and service to Jesus is the only appropriate response.

This needs to be the goal of my conversion.