Sunday, November 29, 2015

Love in a time of Hate

 It is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new Church year. A time of waiting and, more importantly, preparation...not just to encounter with the Lord at Christmas but for the personal encounter with the Lord that we will have either at the end of time or the end of our lives.

How shall we prepare?

I was struck by St. Paul’s advice in the second reading today:

“Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.” (1 Thess. 3:12-13)

We must prepare by asking the Lord to increase our love.

That is a tall order, as these times seem to be short on love and long on anger, fear and hatred. To a great degree, the terrorism and violence in the world have succeeded: they have fanned the flames of fear, suspicion and mutual hatred.

Yet it is not any terrorists who are ‘winning’; they are losing, too. They are locked into their patterns of violence and hatred and, as our society becomes more bellicose by the day, we are increasingly being locked into those patterns as well.

We are all losing. The only one ‘winning’ anything is Satan. He is slowly winning our hearts.

But it is not too late. The grace of God has the power to break those patterns and allow us to “abound in love for one another and for all.” There is a Remedy—the power of the Cross, the power of Christ’s sacrifice. We, however, must be willing to enter into it.

Like Him, we must make a choice to love in a time of hate.

It is admittedly a dangerous and counter-intuitive choice. It is only logical to return violence with violence, hatred with hatred. Yet it is that logic that will destroy us if we are not careful. This is where faith comes into the picture. The real question is this: do we really believe in the Lord’s clear words to us? Do we really believe that we are to “love our enemies and do good to those who hate us” (Lk. 6:27)?

Do we really have faith that His counter-intuitive plan is our path to true victory?

As we enter this Year of Mercy, I encourage you to examine your hearts as St. Paul suggests and to find out who or what has taken root there. If it is not of God and His mercy, may He, through the intercession of His Holy Archangels, cast it back to the darkness from whence it came.

May the grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ “strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father” this Advent!

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