Only Love Conquers All Things

With tomorrow’s approach of the Day Of Prayer For Peace In Our Communities, I wish to share with you a recent article written for our Diocesan Newspaper.  Though the article was written before Archbishop Kurtz called for this day of prayer, it still seems to strike the right tone, and the message is in harmony with how to go about breaking down the barriers that divide us as a human family.  May God give us the grace to be builders of peace and unity.

Please join me for Mass this Friday, September 9 at the Cathedral at Noon to pray for peace.

[laread_first_letter]A[/laread_first_letter] Catholic columnist recently and wisely deduced that Pope Francis’ plan to conquer secularism is by out loving it. I agree. In similar fashion, a seminary coleauge who is now a bishop recently tweeted: “We can either whine about an increasingly disbelieving culture or be Jesus Christ’s ambassadors to a world which desires hope.” St. Paul gives us the overarching truth: If I do not have love, I am nothing. If I do not have love, I gain nothing. Love endures all things. (see 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13)

During this summer we have witnessed unbelievable acts of hatred and terrorism. From the mowing down of innocent people in Nice, to the brutal slaying of Fr. Jacques Hamel while he celebrated Mass in Normandy, to racism in our own country, and the slaughter of peace officers in retaliation.

At the funeral for Fr. Hamel, the Archbishop of Rouen asked “But today, can the world still wait for the chain of love which will replace the chain of hate?” This is a fundamental question for all of us. When confronted with violence, it is very tempting to respond with violence. But the teaching and example of Christ tells the Christian what our true response must be. Love.

We resolve to not let evil overtake our hearts. We resolve to continue the work of Jesus who cast out demons and raised up the downtrodden. We continue the work of Jesus who welcomed the sinner and extended to them compassion, understanding, mercy, forgiveness, love. Jesus is the ultimate innocent victim. He not only suffered an undignified passion and death, but modelled how we today are to endure the tragedies of evil with love beyond all telling.

Jesus is the Son of Man, the Son of God, who came to suffer, die and rise from the world to conquer sin and death. (Matthew 16:13) The Love of Jesus restores what was lost to sin. In the face of violence and terrorism, we benefit by calling to mind the foundations of our faith in Jesus who conquered death. “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Not only did Jesus respond to violence with love, but through him, we have the power to do the same. As his disciples, we are called to meet hatred with love. St. Paul reminds us “we boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

We learn to love in small measures. Parents love their children, and forgive them many things. Love allows members of families to forgive, healing the hurts that harm the family bond. The love of the home is to grow and spread as we carry love into the world, into other relationships that need forgiveness, healing, love.

The commandments boil down to love; Love God with all your heart, (first three commandments) and love your neighbor as yourself (commandments 4-10). The law of God is summed up in love. In order for us to win over an unbelieving world, we must begin by loving in every possible opportunity; my parents, my siblings, my co-workers, the stranger, the poor. St. John tells us “Whoever does not love remains in death.” (1 John 3: 14)

These times are difficult. Living our faith and the law of God is not easy. The world we live in can stir great fear. But, St. John reminds us that “perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 John 4: 18) We cannot let the suffering entailed in true love become the focus, rather our focus must always remain on Christ. As long as Christ is our life, our center, we are capable of great love, even in the face of suffering, and because of this love, we remain joyful.

Recall the words of St. Paul: “What can separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? … No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35 – 39)

In this year of mercy, we are reminded that the greatest expression of mercy is love, and one of the greatest expressions of love is forgiveness, which restores relationships, and restores the zest of life. This is our mission as Catholic Christians, because it is the work of Christ and the mission of the Church. Let us love at all times.