Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Deacon Stokes Preaching at the Seminary
Seminarian, Fourth Theology
Today is October 21 – we are half-way through the fall semester of the 2010-2011 academic year, or if you are on a quarter system – it is roughly the end of the first quarter.
This is a good time to sit back and take stock of where we are in the school year. What is it we are trying to accomplish in school this year? What is the goal?
If you ask 100 people that question I would bet that at least 80 people would answer – to gain knowledge.
Yet what is it that St. Paul tells the Ephesians? He says that the love of Christ surpasses all knowledge – this is what truly satisfies us.
Paul is praying to God the Father for the Ephesians pleading that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith and that they be rooted in and grounded in love.
This prayer of Paul is paralleled by Jesus proclaiming in the Gospel: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”
To a non-Christian this might seem a little problematic – is this god of the Christians some type of pyromaniac?
What is it that Christ wants to burn the earth with?
The answer is quite easy – he wants to burn the earth with his love.
He offers us this love, but not everyone accepts it – and this is what Christ so very much desires, yet he will not force it upon us – he will love us no matter what, but he will not make us love him in return.
Jesus goes on to say that he must undergo a baptism, and he will anguish until this baptism is complete.
The baptism Christ is speaking of is his crucifixion. He knows the pain he will endure in his Passion and Death.
Yet he is willing to do it so that he may set the world ablaze – the wood of the cross will become the kindling to set the world on fire with his love.
Look at the Cross – what do you see? One word should jump out at you from the Cross – LOVE! Christ gave himself for you and for me because he loves us – he died out of love for us.
Christ loved me enough to die for me, what must I do in return? The answer is the same as the one as the word jumping out at us from the Cross – LOVE. Our response to the love of Christ must be love. Love for him and love for each other.
St. Paul of the Cross, whose feast we celebrated yesterday wrote the following: “It is very good and holy to consider the passion of our Lord and to meditate on it, for by this sacred path we reach union with God… Be constant in practicing every virtue and especially imitating our dear Lord, for that is the summit of pure love… When you become true lovers of the Crucified you will always celebrate the feast of the cross in the inner temple of the soul.”
My brothers and sisters, we must immerse ourselves in the cross of our Lord. We must attempt to realize the great love our Lord has for each of us in his willingness to die for us.
Jesus loves you, and if you were the only person on earth, he would still have died for you. You are so very precious to our God. He loves you more than you could ever imagine. Never forget this.
This love gives us our true satisfaction – it is what fills us and fulfills us.
Therefore, let us always recognize the love our Lord has for each of us and then let us respond with love; love for God and for each other.