Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 3,  2019 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine,
 Washington, D.C.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In today’s collect, we have prayed to “love everyone in truth of heart.” In the second reading, Saint Paul says that if we do not have love, we are nothing.

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was rejected by those hearing him speak at the synagogue in Nazareth, who would not accept that someone from their midst could fulfill the prophecies: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place” (Lk 4:24).

To love everyone in truth of heart means to accept Jesus and welcome him into our relationships. Christ is the Truth who brings truthfulness to relationships. Without Jesus, it is easy for our relationships to fall into a pattern of using others instead of serving them.

To love means to be loved. As Saint John says: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). If we are not loved, we can neither love others nor ourselves. Many of the wounds that we carry in our souls are due to our unmet need for infinite love, which only God can satisfy. Only God’s love is infinite. God knows us and loves us. The second reading says: “At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known” (1 Cor 13:2).  God was thinking about us even before our conception. Today’s first reading says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you” (Jer 1:5). To love God means to be loved by him.

To love in truth of heart means to depend on God: As today’s psalm says: “On you I depend from birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength” (Ps 71:6). We love each other because we were created together. We have the same Father. We all depend on God, the Maker of all things. When we perceive others as coming from God’s hands, we love them profoundly.

In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, It is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4‒7). From this list of love’s attributes, we see that love is clearly divine.

God is love (Cf. 1 Jn 4:8). The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are love. Their common nature is love. We love to the extent that we make room for God in our lives. As we increasingly center our lives on God, our love grows. We are capable of love because we were created in the image and similitude of God. Love moves everything. It is the hidden force that leads all things to fulfillment. Dante concludes The Divine Comedy by calling God “the Love that moves the sun and all the other stars” (Canto XXXIII).

If we love Christ, we shall be like Saint John Paul II, whose passionate love for Christ overflowed to everyone. As we grow in our awareness of Jesus’ love, we shall love everyone in him. We shall love everyone in truth of heart if we allow the Sacred Heart of Jesus to dwell in our hearts.

As Saint John says: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God” (1 Jn 4:7). Let us ask for the grace to love everyone in truth of heart. May Mary, the Mother of the Fair Love, teach us to love others with Christ in our hearts.  Amen.

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