Friday, April 12, 2013

Spirit & Life - Love Neighbor and Love of God

Love of Neighbor and Love of God 

Dear Friends,

"If you see charity, you see the Trinity." - Saint Augustine

During mission trips, I often meet with local pro-life groups. As we share experiences, difficulties and ideas, inevitably someone will ask, "What will it take to truly bring about a genuine transformation of the culture?" Benedict XVI wrote beautifully and often on this question and its answer. He did not have great hope in a lasting and purely secular just society: "there is no doubt, therefore, that a 'Kingdom of God' accomplished without God---a kingdom therefore of man alone---inevitably ends up as the 'perverse end' of all things"
(Spe Salvi, 23). In other words, there can be no lasting Culture of Life or Civilization of Love without God, no matter how valiant the efforts may be.  

Our current age faces a great dilemma, for we live among a people who have forgotten their origin and dignity. Many are unable to distinguish between the voice of the Good Shepherd and the deceptive voices of secularism and relativism that constantly surround us. The result is a culture that forgets that it is made for greater things -- for life in its greatest abundance, and for God.

When Our Lord told the disciples that He would make them fishers of men, He bestowed upon them and all future disciples His own mission, a mission of charity: I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do (John 15:15). When Jesus teaches the parable of the talents, He reveals to His disciples that our individual gifts are to be actively placed at the service of charity. No one can fail to exercise these gifts. To ignore this requirement of the Gospel is to make all other pursuits foolhardy, for what profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Mark 6:36).

Transformation of the culture starts when we ourselves are transformed and walk closely with Our Lord. Saint Paul says, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me (Galatians 2:20). Seeking this level of union with Christ is needed if we are to build a true Culture of Life. The great mystic and doctor of the Church, Saint Teresa of Avila, put it this way:

Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,yours are the eyes, you are his body.Christ has no body now but yours,no hands, no feet on earth but yours,yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

This popular quote actually sounds foreign to many because we have forgotten our destiny and mission. The shallow embrace and consumption of earthly pleasures as if they were an ultimate desire is a rejection of the very notion of being a pilgrim on a journey towards eternal life.

Saint Teresa understood how culture is transformed. It is the total surrender to the will of God, unrestricted and unconditional. The divine breakthrough of God causes this radical transformation -- I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Culture cannot change, will not change, until we recognize the voice of the Savior and reflect gratitude for this new life in daily living -- blessed are they who hear the word of God and live it (Luke 11:28).

The union of which Saint Teresa speaks is the heart's fullest desire and can't help but reflect God's love in word and deed.
I am not speaking of mere sentiment, but of a love that bears fruit in deeds -- Gospel deeds. In other words, the "horizontal love" reflected in human relationships, if it is fruitful, testifies to the vertical relationship we have with God. Put another way, in the love of the saints many times even the hardest of hearts can see the love of God.  

None of us know what God truly has in store for us, but we must allow Him to transform us, and thus to allow Him to use us to transform the culture.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr Boquet signature 
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International