There’s a great scene in Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye turns to his sharp tongued wife, Golde, and asks her, “Do you love me?” She pauses over her tub of laundry for a moment, and wiping her sweaty face, she repeats his question, “Do I love you?” “What a silly thing to ask. I cook for you, I wash for you, I keep house for you, I have children with you.” Her song ends with, “If that’s not love . . . what is?” In other words, she’s living her love, not thinking about it.
How about you and Jesus? Do you love him? Think for a minute before you answer. Too many things want to jump in and give a superficial answer. We say, “Well I go to mass. I believe He’s God’s Son who died on the cross for me. I know he’s raised from the dead and has unlocked the gates of heaven for us. I say prayers before meals. I try to live a good life.”
“But do you LOVE me?” Jesus asks Peter three times (John 21:17). How do we know if we really love Jesus? Sitting in my chair in the rectory with my books and Brahms playing in the background, I find it easy to whisper, “Jesus I love you”. But do I really?
What if ISIS suddenly knocks on my door and asks if there are any Christians inside? What if the phone rings at 3 am. and the person just wants someone to talk to? What if my friend, for all his promises, is drunk and crying again? What if the young cashier makes mistake after mistake and keeps us all waiting? What if they accidentally skip over your name at the graduation ceremony? What if the doctor says, ‘there’s nothing more we can do”? What if my job is sent overseas and now I’m on the night shift at Seven/11?
Sometimes I wonder if my life were challenged as it is for thousands of people (with poverty, sickness or tragedy), would I be so quick to say “Jesus I love you”? Would I keep the faith in the face of danger, ridicule, or discrimination? Remember the Last Supper when Jesus told the apostles, “someone at this table will betray me tonight.” Each apostle would in turn nervously ask, “Certainly it is not I Lord . . . is it?” I think they each feared the “traitor” that lie within him. Not just Judas, in fact each of them betrayed him. Our love in the end is usually pretty weak.
But are there any signs that one’s love of the Lord is true and from God? I think there are. Signs my love of God is true and real:
- I keep doing the things of faith time after time, year after year. (Going to Sunday mass, receiving the Eucharist often, confession too). And in your own way, “wanting what God wants.”
- There is a felt desire at times to do something “Just to please the Lord.” (eg. To give alms, visiting the sick or lonely, etc.)
- Also a felt desire to refrain from something simply because it offends against God (Fear of the Lord).
- I ask God to help me see his will and to DO it, even when it’s hard.
- I make a conscious effort to give my day over to God asking his help to face the new day. (Morning Offering Prayer)
- You find a growth in charity moving you to care about someone or something that never concerned you before.
- You willingly suffer misunderstanding, contempt, sickness and failure in union with Christ who loved us first.
- Notice the motivation for doing these things is the love of God; not just being a “nice guy”.
But in the end how much I love God is really not the important thing. The main issue is to realize “not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us first.” “God proved his love for us for while we were still sinners and enemies of God Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8.
Why do we love God? Because he has first loved us; creating us, letting us be called his children, giving us his Son to be our Savior, showing us the way to eternal life. Dear God you know how small my heart is. Please make it bigger for you and for my neighbor.
I don’t care what they say . . . it’s still summer!!