August 18, 2023
Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today
He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted.” Matthew 19:11
This was Jesus’ response to a lengthy discussion about the indissolubility of marriage. One of the reasons that “Not all can accept this word…” is because marriage, and every other vocation, requires wholehearted sacrifice and selflessness. When this is not present, and when the selfless living that is required of us turns to selfishness, then every conflict becomes a heavy burden. A burden that is unbearable without grace.
What is love? What form of love is required in marriage and every other vocation? What love is required of parents and grandparents? The answer is the same to all of these questions. We must love with complete selflessness and in a sacrificial way. Love, in its truest form, always looks to the good of the other and never focuses upon oneself.
Only grace can enable us to live a life based on true love. Our fallen human nature tends to “navel gaze,” meaning, we tend to go through life thinking about ourselves—“What will make my life better? How will this affect me? This person has hurt me. I don’t want to do this or that, etc.” It is very difficult in life to turn our eyes from ourselves to the love of others. This is why Jesus said that this form of love can only be embraced by “those to whom that is granted.” And those to whom this depth of love is granted are those who are open to God’s transforming grace in their lives.
One reason that it is very difficult to love in a completely selfless way is because it requires us to live by grace. Our feeble human minds cannot arrive at the high calling of charity by itself. It is only by grace that we will understand that selfless living is not only best for those whom we are called to love, but it is also best for us. And in the context of married life, parenting, other vocations and every other situation in life, if our love is always focused upon the good of the other, and if our lives imitate the total sacrifice of Christ, then we will see God do great things through us. As He does, we will also see God do great things in us. The bottom line is that we only become who we were made to be when we live like Christ. And He lived a life that was unconditionally sacrificial and selfless.
Reflect, today, upon the high calling of love that you have been given. Can you accept this teaching of our Lord? Has an understanding of the nature of true love been granted to you by grace? And if so, are you doing all you can to live a life of selfless sacrificial love in union with Christ Jesus? As you examine your life and your relationships, especially with those closest to you, consider how well you act as Christ to them. Consider whether you forgive, turn the other cheek, seek mercy, compassion, understanding, gentleness and every other virtue and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Where you are lacking and find selfishness, do not hesitate to beg our Lord to grant you the grace to not only understand your high calling of love, but to also embrace it in your actions to the fullest degree. Then, and only then, will you be able to live the vocation to which you have been called.
My loving Lord, Your love is beyond all comprehension. It is a love that can only be understood by the gift of Your grace. Please do grant me the grace I need to not only understand and to receive Your love in my life but to also offer Your love to all. May my life become an ongoing instrument of the perfection of love that You lived. Jesus, I trust in You.
Novena to Saint Monica
(Especially prayed for wayward children)