The readings for Mass the weekend of March 18 tell of Jesus’ great love for you. It’s that simple. I could almost end this column here.
Imagine the strength of his love. This simple challenge might end far too soon if we limit our understanding of love to admiring cute little puppies or exchanging endearing cards on St. Valentine’s Day. The virtue of love is much more than that, much bigger than that.
We learn the virtue of love from Christ. Love is a complementary, unifying, unending and boundless fusion. Love is a binding commitment for the good of another (1 Corinthians 13:5). The crucifix shows us perfect love.
Jesus’ crucifixion is the greatest act of his unbounded love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The crucifix in your home and your parish is not simply a memorial of a tragic death. The crucifix shows us love that is not selfish but is intended for the good of another. “God, who is rich in mercy, brought us to life with Christ and raised us up with Him” (Ephesians 2:4-6).
The Gospel message on Sunday is that Christ, our Lord and God, does not seek his own interests, but sacrifices everything he has for humanity. In short, he loves you.
Married love — between one man and one woman — gives us a snapshot of Christ’s unfathomable love.
I am privileged to have grown up with truly wonderful parents. From the stories they tell, it seems that their love did start with cute Valentine’s cards and sentimental gifts. But such presents are only tokens of true love.
My parents, who are now approaching their 35th wedding anniversary, have been through good times and bad, sickness and health. I can say with certainty that it is not greeting cards that endured through these times. Rather, it is from Christian faith and sacramental marriage that their love has grown strong.
All the more, the strong, committed, selfless love between married couples gives us a glimpse of the love that Christ stretches toward each one of us. In marriage the couple sacrifices their own lives and their own independence for the good of their spouse and their children. Throughout marriage, both the husband and wife are in service to each other (and their children), constantly leaving behind one’s own interests for the good of one’s spouse and children.
This is love: to act for the good of another, not to seek one’s own comfort but to comfort another. This is Christ’s grand love for us. He loves you, and because he loves you, he sacrificed “that the world might be saved” (John 3:17).
From the example of married love we are able to see a slice of Christ’s unfathomable love. This is the heart of the upcoming weekend’s readings. Christ loves you and gave everything he has for your good.
Let’s pray this weekend that Christ’s magnificent love will be known through an increase in respect for marriage, an increase in the number of holy and Christian marriages, and that all married couples will demonstrate Christ’s love by their own lives of sacramental love.
Deacon Jeremy Ploof is in formation for the priesthood at The St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of St. Cloud. His home parish is St. Marcus in Clear Lake and his teaching parish is St. John and St. Patrick in Foley.
Sunday, March 18
Fourth Sunday in Lent
• 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
• Ephesians 2:4-10
• John 3:14-21
When have you experienced God’s love in your life? What did that look like? What can you do today to share God’s love with someone you encounter?