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God is Love. We are Created to Love

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Luke 4:21-30
February 3, 2013

Our reading today from Paul is probably the most often picked second reading for weddings.  Sometimes, I think couples just pick it because it has the word “love” in it a lot.  It used six times but the whole passage really is about love.  I always tell the couple they can have this reading but that they should think about what it says about love and not just pick it for the word “love”.

That makes it fitting for weddings.  Marriage is meant to be about love, two people coming together in love.  But the word love should not be taken lightly.

It can be like the word “friend”.  To me a friend is someone we are close to and do things with just to be with them.  Then there is Facebook.  Maybe it started out great but I’ve seen people brag about having 400 friends on Facebook as a milestone.  It’s no milestone.  They’re not your friend.  A friend is someone you share a close connection with and really know who they are.  Not just everyone friending everyone else to increase their numbers.

What does the word “love” really mean to us?

Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love our neighbor.  We are to love everyone but love comes in different levels.  In love we are to care about everyone, doing what we can to make sure everyone has what they need.

But love goes deeper than just doing things for one another.  And married love is meant to be the deepest form of human love there is.

Paul describes what love is like, patient and kind.  Paul also describes what love is not, jealous, pompous, inflated, rude, or self-serving.  We think of these words as adjectives describing love but fully understood and lived they are not just adjectives.  They are verbs, meaning actions that we live in love.

In speaking of love, Jesus says there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life one’s friends.  Jesus sets a literal example of this in his Crucifixion when he freely gives up his life for us on the Cross.

Jesus sets the perfect example of love.  God is love.

God isn’t simply an example of love.  He defines what it means to love.  God loves every one of us more than we can ever imagine.

God knows us better than we know ourselves.  God knows us before we are conceived in our mother’s womb.  As he says to Jeremiah, before we were in our mother’s womb, he has had a purpose for us.  He has an appointed calling for us.

That appointed purpose is always good because God loves us.  It doesn’t matter what we have done, God wants us to know his love.  That’s why God sends Jesus his Son to die for us.  Because there is nothing God won’t do for us.

There is nothing we can do that irrevocably separates us from God.  I say irrevocably because we can separate ourselves from God.  It’s called sin.  In venial sin, we do things that hurt our relationship with God.  It shouldn’t seem that strange to us.  We do the same things in our relationships with other people.  Then there is mortal sin, that breaks the relationship.  Again we do the same thing in our human relationships.

The good news is that even when we do sin, God can fix our relationship with him.  In fact, he’s dying just to fix it.  The problem is we have to let him.  If we don’t let him, God can’t fix it.

Can we stop God?

Technically, God can do what God wants.  But God gives us free will and he doesn’t force himself on us.  God is eager to forgive our sins but he wants for us.  And when we come to him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confessing our sins, he gives us the great gift of forgiveness.

And he does so out of love.

If you go back and read the passage from Paul before the one we read today, you will find Paul speaking highly of the gifts we have been given but today he reminds us of something better than those gifts, love.

We are created in God’s image.  We are created to love.  We are created to be loved.

Let’s think about “gifts” in a different sense, the gifts we receive and give.

Sometimes when we get gifts we really enjoy the “things” we receive.  It may be the perfect game, a great toy, a good book.  But when you think about it, in maturity is the “thing” what makes it so great?

What is greater than the thing we give?

Love.  Think of it this way.  When we are little children, the gifts we give our mom or dad generally aren’t worth much money.  Why do we give them these gifts?  Because we love them.  I’m betting some of our parents have fonder memories of the little simple gifts we give as children than some gift that costs more money as an adult.  Love is of infinite value.

Love is what we are created for.  Married love is meant to be the highest form of human love.  Married love is for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.  It is a sign of God’s love for us.

God’s love never fails.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  May our love be the same way.

 

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