Friday, May 19, 2017

Gospel Words for Today: Love One Another

A little over 5 years ago I wrote a blog post called Grace Under Fire. That day was a rough one for me. On the other hand, it was the day I knew, without a doubt, I was a true Lay Apostle of Jesus Christ the Returning King. It was a day where I responded to a verbal attack with humility and most importantly, I didn't respond emotionally. The old Bonnie would have come out swinging. Since that day, I haven't stopped praying for this person. I knew he was under a lot of stress and pressure, and taking it out on me would be safe considering I have a pretty high tolerance for bad behavior. I am happy to say Jay and I are friends with him and his wife today. When we respond with love of neighbor instead of reacting to an outburst hurled our way, it is amazing what God can do with that love!

Todays Gospel (John 15:12-17) provides the key ingredient of a true Christian:

Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Today's quote from Anne a lay apostle's book Climbing the Mountain is a little on the long side, but so critical in understanding those who lash out at us and how important our prayers are for their souls:

"Clearly, the love of Christ is meant to be shared. After the experience of heaven, I can see that the Kingdom of God is made up of souls who love each other. If Christ is in each one of us, and this is of course what we believe as Christians, then we must venerate Christ in every soul. How do we do that?

We do that with respect and gentleness. Some might say, “Yes, this may be true but I see souls in error, in mortal sin, living far outside of the heavenly Kingdom.” Well, dear fellow apostles, this is when the call to treat them as Christ is at its most profound. If Christ has indeed been driven out of a soul, through serious sin and a spirit of rebellion in that sin, then the call to illustrate our unity with Christ is compelling. How does Christ treat that soul? How does Christ view that soul? I will tell you.

Christ does not glance at a soul and see the sin, although He is acutely aware of the sin. Christ glances at a soul and sees the wound that both caused the sin and was worsened by the sin. So in order for the Kingdom to come, and it must and it will, we must treat each other as Christ would.

Sometimes a soul living outside of the Kingdom is bitter. This bitterness is like a sore. When a soul in bitterness views Christ in us, it can be like salt in the wound or sore because our unity with Christ highlights his isolation from Him. This is good. The soul then comes closer to an understanding of what it lacks. Our experience of this may not be pleasant. It may be necessarily painful because in its pain his soul may strike out at us. This can be understood as an almost instinctual lashing out or crying out in the distress of his disconnectedness from Christ. We must accept these strikes as beneficial penance and part of standing with Christ as a companion on the Way of the Cross.

To clarify, I am driving in traffic and I make a mistake, perhaps, or commit a deed that inconveniences someone else. I give the other driver an apologetic wave. He responds by swearing at me, shouting and threatening. This is shocking for a holy soul.

We must offer this to Jesus. We must bring that soul to Jesus in prayer and petition. Our prayer will obtain critical graces for that soul. We must look at this person and see the wound, the sore.

To be more specific to the call to bring Jesus Christ to souls directly, consider a soul who is estranged from the Kingdom. Perhaps it is a family member or neighbor. It is possible that he may be unkind to us because our holiness is an irritant to him and to his wound. Is it then acceptable to be unkind in return? No, this is not acceptable for an apostle of Jesus Christ who seeks to bring His love to them. Remember that it was AFTER the Crucifixion that the Centurion said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” That soul only saw Christ through the manner in which Jesus accepted suffering from the offender’s hands. Note this parallel.

A soul may be tormenting us, but for this soul to experience Christ, we must accept it as Christ would. This should be in flashing red lights.

We may be praying for this soul and beseeching heaven for the conversion of this soul. So we must not complain at a little suffering for this soul, particularly if it comes from the hand of that same soul.

It helps to examine our motives. Do we want this soul to be saved for the sake of the soul and for the consolation and glory of Jesus Christ? Or do we want this soul to be saved so that the soul will treat us better and make our life easier? I think perhaps it can be a bit of both and this is acceptable. But as we begin to lean more to the benefit of both the soul and the Kingdom, we will become more willing to accept the occasional bad treatment for the purpose of the greater good, which is the salvation of the soul and the consolation of Christ, as well as for the benefit of the Kingdom."

Lay apostles, choose to love those who seem unlovable. Choose to be the light instead of the darkness. Choose humility over pride. With Jesus, anything is possible!

Thank you, Lord, for the ability to love when faced with adversity. Help me to always keep my focus on You!

God bless,

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