Homily – Holy Thursday MMXII 4/5/12
He loved his own in the world,
and He loved them, to the end;
He loved them, to the extreme;
He loved them, to the depths.
I give you a new commandment,
Love one another
as I have loved you.
Where true love is found,
God is present there.
We recline at Table tonight with Jesus
at the Agapé banquet,
at the Love Feast.
Here it is that we learn from the Master and Teacher, first how to receive love, how to be loved; and second, how to give love, how to be love.
The Eucharist teaches us and enables us, first to be loved, and then to love.
But what is love? Do I, do you, does anyone really know what Love is?
Probably not. This life is really all about learning more and more fully what Love is all about, and when, after years of trial and error, God sees that we’ve finally learned what love’s all about – or, God forbid, that we will never chose to learn from Him what its all about, then He takes the breath of life away from us and brings us to eternal life, where we will then fully know what love is all about.
I’ve been thinking and praying a lot lately about Love. CS Lewis wrote a great book on the subject that I read this past year.
He says that the ancient Greeks and Romans spoke of Three Kinds of Love that every human being naturally experiences.
The first love is called Storge or Affection – which is family love, the love of parents for children and children for parents, the love of siblings for one one another, the love of grandparents for grandchildren, aunts and uncles for nieces and nephews, etc.
The second natural love is called Philios or Friendship – what we men call our band of brothers, our buddies, our gum-bas. I don’t know what you women call your friends!
And the third natural love is called Eros – that crazy, all consuming, terrifying, fickle, frustrating, god-like love that occurs when one “falls in love” with another. Lewis says that while friends walk side by side, looking at a common goal or interest, lovers face each other and look into each others eyes.
All three natural loves are part of our human experience, part of what love is all about. But CS Lewis’ book is called the Four Loves. There is a forth love, not a natural but a supernatural love, called in the New Testament Agapé, or in Latin Caritas, Charity, and that is God’s Love.
God’s Love, Agapé, governs and guides the other three loves. When we put God’s love over our family, friends, romances, we will then appreciate them to the fullest, we will have the best possible family relations, the best possible friendships, the best possible romances.
But when we don’t let Agapé rule over our natural loves, our family relations, our friendships, our romances can become strained, unhealthy, disfunctional, manipulative.
St. Paul tells us that the Agapé of God, the Love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Its Agapé, Divine Love, that enables us to love God above all other natural loves in our lives. This is dramatically seen in the lives of the saints who sacrifice one or more of the three natural loves for the sake of Divine Love.
For example, St. Thomas More greatly loved his wife and four grown children, and was very good friends with King Henry VIII, but the love of God drove him to give his life rather than renounce his Catholic Faith.
St. Augustine loved passionately the girlfriend he was living with for many years, but the love of God drove him to ultimately embrace Holy Purity and break things off with her.
It is this same Agapé that will enable each of us to love our enemies, to forgive those who hurt us, and to see the face of Christ in the least of our brothers and sisters, the poor and oppressed.
It is Agapé that causes a young man or woman to renounce marriage and children and give themselves totally to God as a priest or religious sister.
Finally, it is Agapé that enables us to ultimately let go of this life and our loved ones here, and let God take us and our loved ones to the next life, knowing that the love of God will gather us together again in the joy of His Kingdom of Heaven.
My brothers and sisters in Christ! I dwell on Agape, Charity, God’s Love, tonight, because here in the Eucharist is where we receive this Love. The Eucharist is the source of God’s Love, and the summit of God’s Love.
Tonight we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, and the institution of the Priesthood.
The priest is called to the awesome task of making present God’s Love, and ministering this love of God to the people He is called to serve.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jesus for calling me to be a priest; for using me to bring people closer to Him. Please pray for me, and for Fr. Marcin and all priests, that we would always be faithful to our calling and that our ministry would be fruitful.
I’d like to also take this opportunity to share with you some news. Today I got a letter from Bishop Tobin informing me that our parish will once again be getting a Transitional Deacon for the summer!
We welcome this summer Thomas Woodhouse, who is a 3rd year seminarian at Blessed Pope John XXIII Seminary in Boston. Thomas is from St. Paul’s Parish in Cranston, and is what they call a late vocation seminarian (I’m not sure if he’s older than I am or not, but he’s no kid like Deacon Frank was last year!).
He will be ordained a Deacon Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM at St. Luke’s church, Barrington, and I hope to have him start his 10 week assignment soon after that so he can visit the school before it gets out for the summer.
Next June 2013 he will be ordained a priest, God willing. So keep Thomas Woodhouse in your prayers and give him a warm welcome which I know you all will when he comes.
The Eucharist and the Ministerial Priesthood are gifts Jesus gives us this Night, so that you and I would always know how much Jesus loves us, and so that you and I would be able to love others as Jesus did.
May Christ, truly present to us in the Eucharist, bless our families, our friends, and our lovers, may He save them all, and forgive them their trangressions, and bless them with many many graces, and may Agapé, the love of Christ, reign over all our loves, purify them and by His Holy Cross and Resurrection give them back to us at the end of our lives, that we all may love one another with a perfect love, for ever and ever in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.