Saturday, January 23, 2010
The Great Equalizer
After reading my parenting book last night, I am reminded of the most important element of parenting, the most important element of marriage, the most important element of our faith, the most important thing in this world and the next. It's love. Sounds so simple, but love is really all we need to be good parents, all we need to be good husbands and wives, and all we need to go to heaven. All the good advice in the world amounts to nothing if we don't inject love first and foremost.
St. Therese said, "Even the most brilliant deeds, done without love, amount to nothing." Love is the great equalizer. The absence of love, lowers the greatest deeds to nothing, and the smallest deeds done with great love, elevates them to the heavens. I think about times when I have done something really great, and looking back, it was really just a waste of time because I did it without love. Or the times I have done something so insignificant as wiping the snot off my child's nose and because it was done with great love, it was worth more than feeding a million homeless people without love in my heart.
Of course, this is nothing new and we have all heard this a million times, but it is important to keep reminding ourselves of it. It is so easy to get caught up in our own selfish desires even when it seems we are doing really great things for other people. For Example, I could simply be feeding my ego while feeding a million homeless people, or I could be lessening my feelings of insecurity while taking my children out to expensive piano lessons, or I could be thinking of only success and money while working extra hours to make money for my family. A big one for me, is doing things out of duty instead of out of love. Oh, the mounting pile of "duties" I have! Everything from being a good house keeper, to being a good mother, to being a good catholic can all be seen as duties. And can all be done with little to no self donation. Self Donation is the buzz word of the new millennium for Catholics. Since the word 'love' can be so warped and brought to the same low level as a fondness for pizza, for example, self donation is the new word to describe what we are really talking here. Self donation is the kind of love that Jesus gave on the cross and it's the kind of love we are required to give to God and all on earth. Just like it sounds- it's the love that gives of oneself. If we do not really sacrifice anything of ourselves by our love, it is not self donating. If we only give our excess and not of our need, it's not self donating. If it doesn't hurt at times to love Jesus, and to love our neighbors, it's not self donating. This is the kind of love St. Paul talks about in Corinthians:
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
May God show us all how to love the way He first loved. Amen.