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When we  hear the great passage of Paul from 1 Corinthians 13 about love, it is often heard in the context of weddings and therefore likened to the love between a man and wife. Moreover, with the prominence of love in today's social climate, many minds are raised to idealized forms of love which “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). Indeed, whether 'love never fails' or 'love wins,' I can't help but feel these are caught up in human, all too human, notions of love.

I admit two things first: that love has entered the realm of social acceptance and legal language, which simply is about human love, however it is defined. Secondly that there are a number of people who don't admit of divine love, let alone anything divine.

This isn't written for the second group, but rather for those who do admit that there does exist divine love and that, I hope, they would admit that human love is a reflection of the divine.

Human love is partial, even in the context of marriage, family, and friends. While the bonds of love are strong and can endure even death (at least on the side of the living), we must inquire into that perfect love. God created us in His own image and knew us even before we were in the womb (cf., Jer 1:5), so I believe from our inception “we love because he has first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). The natural way that we love is limited and our relationships reflect this, for “at the resurrection [men and women] neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven “ (Mt. 22:30). Marriage is that beautiful image by which God identifies his relationship with us, and marriage—sacramentally defined—is said to be an image of the love of the Trinity. Every image, however, gives way to reality. The way men are given in marriage will pass away, and is as heat that dissipates compared to the eternal love.

Thus in Catholic, sacramental marriage the spouses vow their love and fidelity to one another, but also pray that they remain, by the way they live their lives,  in the presence of the love which is the foundation of their own. The vocation of marriage is for the holiness of the spouses, the raising of a family, and to witness to the divine love through the medium of human love.

Nevertheless, those who suppose marriage begins and ends in human love limit love and diminish it. When we are taught about love in Scripture we learn, we read one of the simplest and succinct explanations of God. John claims that “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16). If the perfection beyond all perfections is Himself love, then the love we are called to aspire to is precisely that love.

What then is God's love? It is a love that allows “rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous” (Mt 5:25). It is a love that forgives “as far as east is from west” (Ps 103:12). God's love is ever expansive and always seeking to forgive and draw into himself.  God does not permit sin in his presence, but he does forgive sin in his presence. Love, then, “does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). What is more perfect truth than Jesus Christ? We rejoice in his Cross which cleanses and saves the human race. In Christ we find a man who seeks not his own interests, is not quick-tempered, nor broods over injury (cf., 13:5). If we too aspire to this love we must expand our notion of love.

It is natural to love family and friends, to hate enemies, and to desire self-advancement. It is divine, truly divine, to love all while rejecting falsehood, to forgive all while calling them to the truth, and to give of one's self so that all would be made whole. If we call ourselves members of His Body, then we cannot prefer our human notions of love as final and sufficient. We may see human love, formed always by divine love, as the vehicle by which God is understood in the world.

While it is a matter for a better and fuller discussion, we may also see how any Christian who argues about marriage, divorce, and family in terms of social acceptance and standards argue from a position of partiality. These notions must fall aside in the Christian mind. Love that revolves around sex, around personal comforts, personal security, or social laws are partial. The love that endures is the one that is lives alongside faith and hope, divine gifts that lead to the Divine Life.

We do not need to exclude human love from our consideration, but we must expand it and raise it towards almighty God.
Reflection on Love, Human and Divine
It's been a while since I've written or have had time to write. Comments are a welcome means of refining what's found herein.
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Know what makes it difficult to write? Grad school, that's what.

Will have more time to write eventually, but thesis comes first.
When we pray before the altar of God, it can be an easy temptation to grow weary through repetition. We can repeat the proper response week in and week out during mass. Likewise we hear similar words nearly every week, and so we grow distracted and tired.

But I ask that we look to our own experience to correct our behavior: when we see a loved one, a family member, or a friend we can say “It's good to see you,” or “I've missed you,” or “I love you,” and each time these words produce a similar (if not the same) effect. These words, coming from someone who means it, never fail to hearten us and comfort us. Likewise, when we mean and say these words we too hope that they will do the same for our loved ones.

Yet how could we not trust the sincerity of these words?

Take this, all of you, and eat of it. For this is my body, which will be given up for you.

Take this, all of you, and drink from it. For this is the chalice of my blood. The blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins.

Both times he proclaims, “Do this in memory of me.”

We ought to listen to these words anew and see them as coming from the heart of Jesus. He offers his very self to heal us, to reconcile us, and to raise us up to the Father. This is why the priest elevates the Body and Blood—it it not so that our mortal eyes might see it, but that our spirits might offer this perfect sacrifice to the Father.

Every prayer of our mass is an expression of God's love for us. Since God is love, it should not surprise us that the mass is that perfect expression of his love, because in it we receive both His word and His own Self.

Imagine, then, that the Father ever and always says “I love you” through his every action. Do we allow this to affect us as we stand, sit, and kneel before the Lord? Do our words of response express this same love? I hope they do, for God is always waiting and always listening to our response. Let our prayers, our actions, and out hearts speak in one voice at every mass, indeed every moment of it, and in our life.

In this way that which we hear and say will not leave us without having their intended effect.
On the Power of Words
I admit that if you are not Catholic and if you do not attend mass this will be somewhat nonsensical. But I encourage you all, first of all Catholics, to attend mass with a new zeal.

And of course for you non-Catholics to become Catholic.

Nevertheless, I hope this reflection encourages reflection for you.
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I wholeheartedly invite you to come to mass today, wheresoever you are.

It's an opportunity to praise God for His goodness to you. It's the grace of receiving Jesus Christ so as to grow in unity with God and His Church.

Not going is no detriment to God, but to you, because faith is what sustains us in life through all its travails and difficulties. It helps us keep peace when we are lost and angry, it helps us to forgive when we are slighted, and it helps us to find joy in charity as opposed to hoarding.

Why go after "food" that perishes and lasts only a short while, and we pay for it with our resources and health. Why do so when Christ Jesus offers Himself freely and abundantly?

"Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you" (Jn 6:27).

Most of us have had this experience of going to a grocery store or fruit stand, wanting to buy something. We look at, for example, and apple. It has an attractive exterior and so we go over and pick it up, hold it in our hands, and rotate it. After all, we want to make sure we don't waste our twenty hard-earned cents.

But then, all of a sudden, we feel a soft spot or we notice an imperfection of some sort. So we throw it back on the pile and never look at it again or think of it again.

This is the same image Jesus offers as when he speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven, and in this particular example, we are the apples. At the end of the age God will come by and look at all of us--people in these pews like apples on a rack. From the outside we dress ourselves nicely in business suits, beautiful dresses, habits, chasubles, or clerical shirts. Yet all God has to do is pick us up, run his hand over us, and rotate us, and he'll be able to feel all the imperfections. Then He will decide whether or not He wants to spend His hard-earned twenty cents.

So what are we to do? We look to ourselves and how critical we are of minor imperfections on fruits and vegetables. If God is the same, how can anyone be saved?

Unlike the apple, I would argue that we do have some say in the matter. God has taught us how to be acceptable in His eyes. We can clothe ourselves with fancy things or dress our image with pious words, but it is better than we put the armor of faith (cf., Eph 6:11) and our Lord, Jesus Christ (cf., Rom 13:14). By this I mean we must put on a pious inner conviction. It is my view that we do this by heeding the first words out of Christ's mouth in the Gospel of Mark: "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15).

It is by putting on a spirit of repentance that we cleanse ourselves of imperfection, asking God always to forgive us our sins and faults. Likewise, we must put on faith in the saving work of Christ, giving thanks to Him always for His goodness.

Humbled by repentance and inspired to love by His goodness, we likewise go out, ready to forgive the faults of others and call them to a better and higher way of life by our words and deeds. In doing so, for "love covers a multitude of sins," (1 Pet 4:8), we may hope with a Christian hope that God, at the end of the age, will walk by and see us. He will hold us in His hand, feel us, and rotate us. He will find that we are good and take us home with him.
The Bad will be Thrown Away
A reflection given on 7/30/2015.

Criticism/critique or discussion welcome.
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Hello all,

I know I've updated very sparringly and I apologize. School has been very busy, especially as I prepare my proposal for my thesis:

A pre-Nicene examination of Trinitarian theology as seen through Origen. Exciting, right?

I am also working on learning French and re-learning German. Any help from you blokes and blokettes is always appreciated!

Writing has been tedious as of late. Actually, this is one of the more prolonged writer's blocks I've had in a while.

In that regard, if any of you have come across difficult questions about faith or theology I'm happy to try and address them.

Have a blessed Lent,

M

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TESM
Matthew
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Current Residence: Chicago

Favorite style of art: Realism, pointillism

Personal Quote: 'To mislead one's friends to the truth is the greatest injustice.' (Plato)
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:iconneoconvoy:
Neoconvoy Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2015  Student General Artist
Merry Christmas!

God bless you, your family, and other dear ones!
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:iconhamundr24:
hamundr24 Featured By Owner May 16, 2015  Student Writer
Happy birthday! God bless! :)
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner May 18, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
You as well. Thanks!
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:iconhamundr24:
hamundr24 Featured By Owner May 19, 2015  Student Writer
Welcome, and thank you. :)
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:iconneoconvoy:
Neoconvoy Featured By Owner May 15, 2015  Student General Artist
Happy birthday!

God bless you!
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner May 18, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Same. Thanks!
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:iconpk-condor:
pk-condor Featured By Owner May 15, 2015
Happy Birthday :) =P :la: :la: :hug: :hug: :sing: :sing: :icondragonhug: Airborne Airborne 
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner May 18, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you very much
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:iconpk-condor:
pk-condor Featured By Owner May 19, 2015
You welcome =P
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:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Featured By Owner May 15, 2015  Student Writer
Happy Birthday!
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