'Love Is Our Fulfillment' by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them (a scholar of the law) tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
Imagine the captain of the high school football team starting to date a young lady who performs in the local ballet. At first, he ignores that part of her life because he thinks the ballet is stupid. She finally convinces him to come to a performance. He tells no one on the team because the guys will hassle him relentlessly. He goes simply to support her and fully expects to hate the ballet. After several performances, he actually begins to appreciate this art form that combines dance and music. After a few more performances, he begins to like the ballet much to his own surprise. He finally tells the guys on the football team that he goes to the ballet occasionally, but only to see her perform. He never tells them that he has come to really enjoy the ballet.
When we begin to love, we look at the world very differently, we appreciate new things and we make sacrifices that seem small for the sake of the beloved. Love transforms our lives.
When we discover the love of God, even more amazing things happen to us. First of all, we experience an indescribable fulfillment. Human beings have a God-sized hole in their hearts that cannot be filled with anything but the Lord Himself. As St. Augustine said so beautifully, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."
The love of God opens our eyes to the beauty of many things that we never appreciated before. Things we used to value are no longer important. Things we used to laugh at become surprisingly important. The difficult teachings of Christ in the Gospels and the challenging moral truths proclaimed by his Church begin to make sense. In fact, the love of Christ inspires us to embrace those truths and live them with passion. The burden seems small when it is carried for the sake of the Beloved.
The love of Christ so transforms Christians that, unlike the football player, they can not imagine net sharing with their friends the joy of this new found love for God.
The saints teach us volumes about this kind of transforming love. St. Columban, for example, prayed this way: "Loving Savior, be pleased to show yourself to us who knock, so that in knowing you we may love only you, love you alone, desire you alone, contemplate only you day and night, and always think of you. Inspire in us the depth of love that is fitting for you to receive as God. So may your love pervade our whole being, possess us completely, and fill all our senses, that we may know no other love but love for you who are everlasting" (Instr. De Compunctione 12, 2-3: Opera, Dublin 1957, pp. 112-114).
With God's love coursing through our veins, we are driven into the world to love our neighbor like St. Francis of Assisi, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and St. Maximilian Kolbe. The love of God is indeed our fulfillment.
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