The Love of Christ Impels Us by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: "Let us cross to the other side." Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"
I grew up in a very blessed home. My parents deeply loved me and my siblings. In fact, they dedicated their lives to our family. Neither one of them had time-consuming hobbies or interests that kept them away from the house for any length of time. Rather, they spent most of their free time with us; taking us to church on Sunday, attending our sporting events, helping with school work and school projects, and generally teaching us to work hard and be honest citizens. They even sent us to Catholic schools - a great financial sacrifice on their part. As I look back, I realize that the best gift my parents ever gave me was that I grew up with a very strong sense that I was loved and that I could never lose that love.
The blessing of knowing that I was truly loved gave me confidence to develop my talents and skills. I willingly took risks and tried new things, all in an attempt to discover my strengths. And because I was loved, I more easily bounced back from my mistakes. Most of all, I strove to be good: to do well in school, succeed in athletics and practice my faith, so as to show my parents that I was grateful for their love and support. In other words, their love motivated me to be a better person. That is what love does: it moves us to be good.
Christian faith raises the natural love of family to a supernatural level. St. Paul, in particular, demonstrated the power of that supernatural love in his own transformation from sinner to saint. Through faith in Christ, St. Paul became aware of, and even overwhelmed with, God's love. Paul's conviction that Jesus Christ was indeed the only-begotten Son of the living God, who suffered and died for him personally on the cross, gave him tremendous strength and confidence to proclaim the good news throughout the world. Divine love moved him to fulfill the task of an apostle with generosity and commitment.
St. Paul tells us that God's love moves us, too. In his second letter to the Corinthians he writes: "The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all." Christ's death shows us God's love, a love so powerful that once experienced, we no longer want to live simply for ourselves, but for Him. Thus, St. Paul adds: "He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." Christ died so that we might live for God.
Living for God makes demands on us. St. "Paul's living for God remained a mixed blessing, for on the one hand, he knew the joy of preaching the good news. On the other hand, he had to make unbelievably difficult sacrifices for the sake of Christ and his Church, sacrifices that were sometimes life-threatening: dangerous travel, shipwreck, horrible persecutions, stoning and imprisonment. Still, he did it all out of love, and that's the key. God's love moved him.
Lord Jesus, I pray: strengthen our faith in you so that we may experience God's love. Help us to know the countless ways you love us. Most especially help us to appreciate the love that You showed us on the cross, so that our hearts may be transformed. May your love move us to live for You and not simply for ourselves.
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