Theme: Is Love Enough? Action Makes Love Real

This title implies the perennial question: What is love? For the Christian it leads to a second: What did Jesus mean when he stated: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." John 15.12.

When Christ, in response to the lawyer's question "What must I do to obtain eternal life"?, reiterated the Schema of the Old Testament "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself'"(Luke 10:25), and in a further response as he identified the neighbor as the one who gave practical assistance to the man who fell into the hands of robbers, he made it clear that the love of which he spoke is expressed in service. "For the Son of man came not to be served but to serve."

As Christ made clear, God's love is not that of an indulgent parent, but is a love which draws from human persons their innate capacity for openness to the other, for care and compassion. It is a love which has entrusted a task, that of conveying to the whole world the new wine of the more explicit knowledge of God's saving love and of God's plan for a better world in which the dignity of the human person will be enhanced.

We are now aware more than in the past, because of our greater familiarity with the Scriptures, of the central importance of the social dimension of the Gospels, both in the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament and in the teaching and actions of Christ and his followers in the New.

This social dimension is also expressed in the celebration of the sacraments. The Catholic Church has always placed a strong emphasis on the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. These have been understood as occasions for meeting Christ ini worship, thanksgiving, and prayer for our personal needs. Discipleship begins, makes progress, and comes to completion with the individual. But there is more. By our communion with Christ in the Eucharist we become members of the community which is working, sometimes struggling, to carry out the task entrusted to it. Through our attendance at Mass we commit ourselves to move beyond individual and personal concerns, and as persons in relationship, in families, in work, in civil society, in social interaction, in international affairs, and in our natural environment, to take responsibility for the world in which we live and the structures by means of which we order our lives.

As Pope John Paul 11 pointed out, the breaking of bread by the Church "has great consequences for society." These include "Bringing people together in fraternal unity, especially the poor, Serving them, Sharing with them the bread of the earth and the bread of love, Building up with them a more just world, Preparing a new world for the future...." Osservatore Romano 1979

He notes that if Eucharist worship is authentic then it will make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each person and that in turn will make us "particularly sensitive to all human suffering and misery, to all injustices and wrong, and seek the way to redress them effectively". The Holy Eucharist quoted in "The Eucharist and Social Justice," Dermot Lane, in "Eucharist for a New World", ed. Sean Swayne, Irisb Institute of Pastoral Liturgy, 1981.

By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity "to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will.".. .."Especially by the witness of their life, resplendent in faith, hope and charity they must manifest Christ to others. It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are so closely associated that these may be brought about and grow according to Christ and may be to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer." The Church in the Modern World, Vatican Council 11, no. 31.

In Ireland at present there is much evidence that people are deprived of human dignity not alone because of material need, but also in the experience of inner emptiness, loneliness, and a lack of something to which one can give one's heart.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers." John 15:5,6.

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