Agape love

presided by Msgr. Simas; Sermon : Deacon Benjamin Lai

What a beautiful passage we have heard today. In the second reading from Saint Paul to the Corinthians, it is perhaps the most proclaimed passage at weddings. As a matter of fact, Denise chose these exact passages for our wedding. so it's almost as if I’m renewing my valve to Denise.

We've always been taught that God is love and Jesus loves me. but what does that really mean Jesus died on the cross for you and for me. but how are we to respond to that love and what are we to do on a day-to-day basis? The world defines love as a feeling, an emotion, and a physical attraction to other people. but God teaches us that the highest form of love is agape love. it is the unconditional, and self-giving love, that will do whatever it takes for the benefit of the other. Love is more than a feeling or emotion. Love is an action, an active verb that involves doing what is good for the other person.

in today's reading, st Paul is painting a portrait of what love is and what love isn't. he's telling us what it does and what it doesn't do Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, it is not pompous, or inflated, it is not rude, or does not seek his own interest, love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and love never fails. So these are the actions of love, that what love does, and what we're called to do.

Well, if God is love then let us replace the word love with God. so in order to know and love God more intimately, we have to profess it in our lips, and truly believe it in our hearts that Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind, Jesus is not jealous, or pompous, or rude, Jesus does not seek his own interest. he focused on the will of the father, Jesus bears all things, including dying on the cross for our sins. Jesus believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Well, Jesus is loving, and is a model of perfect love.

and if we are to imitate Jesus, then we have to examine our conscience and put I in the place of Jesus. Am I patient? Am I kind? Do I seek my own self-interest? or not the interests of others? so, if you're like me, I have a long way to go. and I still need a lot of help to grow and to become more like Jesus.

the famous theologian saint Thomas Aquinas whose feast day we just celebrated on Friday two days ago. He said that love is consistently to will and choose the good of the other. Simply put we are to sacrifice, and do what is good for others. We are to love others with selfless love.

Love is not easy and sometimes it hurts. It makes us afraid of doing what God has intended us to do - for the benefit of others. We must deliver the message that will not be accepted by others, we must do what the church teaches, against what the current culture of rejoicing over wrongdoing.

but love rejoices in the truth even to the point of persecution and rejection. Jesus was rejected and persecuted in his hometown, when he proclaimed the truth. because the people at the time did not want to hear God's message. One moment they were praising him, but the next moment they wanted to throw him down the hill and kill him. In today's gospel reading the people could not accept his message that God cares about other races not just the Jews because of their lack of faith. God did not love the Jewish people any less than for God to love less of us. because God loves all of us regardless of who we are. But, we must respond to that love. in order to become who we ought to be.

Jesus gives two Old Testament stories, one about the widow who received food from Elijah. She was from another town north of Israel. The other example is the Syrian leper who was cleansed while none of the Jewish lepers were healed. Both of them acted with faith and trust in God and as a result of that trust, the jaw of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil ran dry, and the incurable leopard was cleansed of his disease. Jeremiah also proclaimed God's truth even when he was imprisoned, received death threats and was exiled to Egypt. He put love into action and trusted in God's promise that they will fight against you but will not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you. jeremiah's assured of this love and personal relationship that God has.

for every one of us that God knew us, you and me, before we were formed, and that he has a special purpose for. Each and every one of us. but in order to do so. and accept his will,we must do everything with love, and for the love of God, and for the love of others, and that is his will. when we imitate Jesus and proclaim our Christian faith, and we face persecution. We follow his example of sacrificial love of giving himself for us to the point of death, as many saints have done before us.

Mother Teresa said that "for love to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty self from us" she said that she has found the perfect paradox that, if you love until it hurts, then there can be no more hurt, but only more love, That best example is of Jesus dying on the cross. He left us until it hurts, really hurts, even to the point of death, death on the cross. the more that it shows his love for us, we have to examine our actions and reactions to our emotions, and make a conscious decision to love regardless of how much it hurts.

Love has always a way of changing hearts. In my early years I always got frustrated asking people why they just can't change, and do things differently so that i don't feel so frustrated, and wanted people to change their heart in their way so that i would suffer less. But now with the gift of the holy spirit, I ask for the courage to change my heart and my ways to accept others as they are, and ask what I can do for them, so that they can suffer less.

This is the journey that we're on to grow and mature in faith, hope, and love. An everlasting love that is most important as Saint Paul had described. So today let's focus on the agape love, and ask for the grace to do whatever it takes to bring Christ's love to others, through our words and deeds. as saint john of the cross points out that in the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions or human success, but on how well we have loved.

基督徒的愛

今天讀經二是從聖保祿宗徒致格林多前書摘錄下來的。這是一段很美的經文。祂可能是婚禮上被人引用最廣的一段經文。當年在我和丹妮絲的婚禮上,就是選讀這段經文。所以現在我有那種重新宣示婚姻誓言的感覺。

天主是愛,耶穌愛我。但這到底是什麼意思呢?祂就是說耶穌為你和我犯的罪被釘死在十字架上,救贖了我們。如果是這樣,那麼我們該如何回應這份愛呢?

世人將愛定義為一種感覺、情感,或是一個肉體上的吸引力。但天主教導我們,最偉大的愛,是無條件的、會為他人的利益不惜一切代價,捨己的愛。愛不僅是一種感覺,情感,或衝動。愛是一個動詞,一個去做對別人有益的事。

聖保祿宗徒描寫基督徒的愛,告訴我們什麼是愛的行為,什麼不是愛的行為。 他說:愛是含忍的,愛是慈詳的,愛不嫉妒,不誇張,不粗魯,不求自己的利益,愛包容一切,相信一切,希望一切,忍受一切,愛永垂不朽。這是基督徒的愛,也是我們被召喚去做的。

如果耶穌是愛,那麼讓我們用耶穌來代替愛這個字,來更了解愛和耶穌。我們嘴裡承認,心裡相信:耶穌是有耐心的,是仁慈的,耶穌不嫉妒,不自負,不粗魯,不尋求自己的利益,而專注於天父的旨意。耶穌承擔了一切,為我們的罪死在十字架上。耶穌凡事相信,凡事盼望,凡事忍耐。耶穌是愛,是完美愛的典範。

如果我們要效法耶穌,就必須審視我們的良心,把我放在耶穌的位置上。我有耐心嗎?我善良嗎?我追求自己的利益?還是別人的利益? 我承認我還有很長的路要走,我仍然需要很多的幫助來成長、來效法耶穌。

上星期五,我們慶祝了神學家聖多瑪斯•阿奎納(Thomas Aquinas)的節日。他說:愛是一個人堅持去做有利於別人的事。簡單地說,我們要犧牲自己,做對別人有益的事,用無私的愛去愛別人。愛並不容易,有時候很痛苦。痛苦使我們害怕去做有利於別人的事。我們必須傳達不受歡迎的信息,必須按照教會的教導行事,必須反對當前認為漠不關心是理所當然、值得鼓勵的文化。

當真愛的行為受到了拒絕和破壞的時候,愛還是在真理中歡欣鼓舞。耶穌在家鄉宣講真理時。相親們拒絕了天主的信息。前一刻他們讚美他,下一刻他們要把他扔下山崖。

在今天的福音中,耶穌講了兩個舊約故事,來傳遞天主愛所有相信祂的人的訊息。一個是關於寡婦從先知厄里亞那裡得到食物的故事。另一個是敘利亞的麻瘋病人被潔淨,而猶太麻瘋病人卻沒有一個被治癒的故事。兩個外邦人對耶穌都充滿了信心。寡婦的信心,使得缸內的麵粉源源不絕,油罐也沒有乾涸。敘利亞人的信心使得無法治癒的麻瘋病也被潔淨了。而猶太人,因為他們的不信,奇蹟就無法施展出來。

先知耶肋米亞即使在被監禁、受到死亡的威脅,並被流放到埃及時,也照樣宣揚天主的道理。先知將愛付諸行動,並且相信天主的應許—你的敵人將與你作戰,但他們不能戰勝你,因為我與你同在,我會拯救你。耶肋米亞相信天主對他的愛,確認他與天主特別的關係。 天主在我們出生之前就認識了我們,祂對每一個人都有祂的旨意。因為天主愛了我們,也因為我們愛我們的近人,所以我們必須用愛去做每一件事,這就是天主的旨意。

我們效法耶穌,開口承認我們是基督徒,當我們面臨迫害,我們要效法基督無私的愛,獻出自己的生命的愛。就像許多聖徒所做的一樣。

特蕾莎修女說:“真正的愛,是那付出代價,愛到傷痛,無私的愛”。她有一個完美的道理:「如果你愛到極點,那麼就不再有傷痛了,只有更多的愛」。耶穌死在十字架上是一個最好的例子。他愛了我們,直到它很痛,真的很痛,甚至到了死亡的地步,死在十字架上。耶穌極端的痛苦表明了他對我們的愛。我們必須省察自己,超越傷痛,效法耶穌的愛。 愛會改變人心。當我年輕時,總是很失望地說:「為什麼有些人無法改變,讓我少受一點痛苦」。但是現在聖神感動了我,讓我祈求我能改變自己的心,來接受別人,關切他們的需要,使他們少受點苦。

這是我在信仰、希望和愛中成長的過程。聖保祿說:「最重要的神恩就是愛」。讓我們學習基督的愛,祈求天主格外的恩寵,使我們能夠以我們的言語和行為,將基督的愛帶給別人。聖十字若望說:「在我們生命的盡頭,天主不會根據我們在世上的財富或功名來審判我們,祂是以我們表現的愛來審判我們」。