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The word love has to be the most misused word in our language. We often say we love our house, our car, our holiday or even ice cream. Then we use exactly the same word to describe our feelings for our spouse, family, friends or children. If language is a window into meaning, then we are in strife at the loose way we transfer the same word for vastly different feelings and realities. At least I hope we feel differently about people over possessions. The way some people go on about their car, pets or money we begin to wonder.
The love Jesus encourages us to have in today’s Gospel is a very particular love. He tells us not just to love one another, but to ‘love as I have loved you’. The core of Jesus’ love for us is sacrificial love, where he laid down his life that we might live. While love is a popular word, and even more popular notion, in our music, film, art and literature, sacrificial love is not something we hear much about these days or that we embrace very easily. Loving someone in the popular imagination has come to mean hanging in there until someone better comes along, or we grow bored of each other sexually or personally. Often it entails keeping the exit door on commitment nice and handy for the quick getaway. But this hardly describes a love that involves sacrifice.
Sacrificial love is demonstrated in deeds not words. It states that there is no point in saying we love anyone unless our actions follow the profession we make. Sacrificial love is not just about warm and fuzzy feelings; it is an intensely practical affair where our love is judged by our gentleness, kindness and patience with each other. Christian love is not arrogant or rude, it does not drag other people down, but rejoices and weeps when others are successful or downhearted. Loving as Jesus has loved means telling the truth with compassion, forgiving, working at trust and holding on to faith in the face of difficult times. Jesus does not promise us that this commandment is easy, just necessary if we are to love as he loves us.
While sacrificial love demands of us that we die unto self, Jesus never asked us to ‘kill’ ourselves. The distinction matters. All too often the Church has been guilty of giving out this teaching in a way that people thought they should put up with violent, undignified and soul-destroying behaviour from their spouse, children, parents, family or friends. Sacrificial love is never destructive. It is a free gift where we sometimes forego other options, opportunities and even good things for a love and life that is even better. The Lord laid down his life for us and in turn the Father raised him up to a glorified life. What’s true for him is true for us. We lay down our lives for each other so we can take up a new and richer life. We are never meant to destroy ourselves or stay in relationships that rip our dignity from us. Sometimes the most Christian thing we can do is to set up boundaries or make decisions that protect ourselves from behaviour which is neither loving nor Christian.
May this Eucharist then grant us the wisdom to love people and not things. May it help us embrace sacrifice in a way that leads to life and may it give courage to sort out the relationships that affirm our dignity and help us grow in faith, hope and love.
© Richard Leonard SJ
A very big thank you to Jock for organising with Randwick Council to have new concrete footpaths put in around the church.
Thank you to Randwick Council for not only the new footpaths but also for the generous donation of hedge plants and turf for the nature strip surrounding the Parish House
Please join our Parish Community for a Family Day Working Bee after 9:30am Mass on Sun 26 May. We have a solid day of work planned and expecting a huge turnout of men, women and children to get to know each other better while doing some mild exercise with landscaping jobs around the council nature strip. The Randwick Council has kindly donated turf and hedge plants to OLR Parish. We will be organising a BBQ sizzle and drinks in the afternoon for an early dinner with kids. Please show your support for our parish and join us. Join the ‘OLR Parish Community’ WhatsApp, email or call Maria at the parish office to confirm your attendance so we can cater accordingly. Ph 9663 1070 | email@example.com.
Confirmation will take place in our Parish on Thursday 13 June at 6:30pm. Any adults wishing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation can join in by contacting Maria at the Parish office on 9663 1070.
Thank you to all our generous parishioners who supported last weekend’s Charitable Works Fund (CWF) Pastoral Appeal. To give is to trust in God, His love that embraces us all and His power to provide. Thank you for making that choice.
Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is happening on the 26th May, Sunday at 10:30am in our church foyer. As we have done in the past 2 years, we wish to get people bringing in treats, sweets, nibbles, etc on the day for everyone to share. Our Parish community had been very generous and this is an activity that has raised more than funds. It has built on our community spirit, goodwill and connected us closer to each other.
This year, let us unite and bring our generosity to good use – and all while having fun!
Spread the word – people don’t have to just come from this Parish, visitors are most welcome.
Join us as we shed some light on the big social justice issues of today! Topics include: Domestic Violence; The Church and Mining – an Update from Rome; Post-Election Analysis on Housing, Climate, Wages and Labour, and Refugee and Asylum Seekers; and a parishioner panel and discussion on Developing an Archdiocesan Social Justice Coordination Team. There will be a delicious lunch and refreshments throughout the day. There is plenty of street parking and the venue is easily accessible by public transport as well. All most welcome! WHEN: Saturday 25th May 2019, 10:30 for 11:00am-3:30pm WHERE: St Columba’s Parish Hall, 213 Elswick St, Leichhardt North COST: Free RSVP: Essential for catering: email firstname.lastname@example.org | or call us 9307 8465.