A heart filled to the brim with love is the foundation of morality
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:43-45).
To do morality, we must fill hearts with the good treasure. The good treasure is love. Fill hearts to the brim with love. Love is done not said. Christianity is not classroom work; it is field work. For love to bear fruit, it must be practiced not merely preached. Love begets love. Preaching about love begets nothing. Start small with your family. Slowly and steadily expand both the scope of your love and the size of your love. Like Jesus, be the cup of love that runneth over. The business of Christianity is seminal (Mark 4:20). Jesus planted (1 John 4: 19) the seeds of love (Matthew 13:31-32) into the soil of our hearts (Luke 17:20-21), stood back, and now watches the seeds germinate, grow and bear fruit (Matthew 13:33), some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew 13:23). The seeds of love turn into trees so that, in the orchards of Christianity (Matthew 13:31-32) - the new Gardens of Eden - many can enjoy the fruits of love. "Fill the earth with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). How? By loving. Love begets love.
WHY CATHOLICS ARE UNEASY WHEN THEIR BISHOPS TAKE AWAY THE LIVELIHOODS OF CHURCH EMPLOYEES WHO LIVE THEIR LIVES CONTRARY TO THE MORAL TEACHING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Some Catholics feel uneasy when our bishops take away the livelihoods of Church employees who live their lives contrary to the Church’s doctrine. Some of us cringe when our bishops take out the royal scepter of sin from its crypt to publicly whack deviant Catholics over the head until their souls are black, blue, battered, bruised and bleeding. Our bishops do not receive universal applause from the rank and file of the Catholic Church. Why not? Why do we feel uneasy? Why do we dissent? Our bishops claim that they are just doing their job. Yet, some of us feel that our bishops are doing something wrong. Can we put a finger on the basis of our uneasiness? Can the source of our deep disquiet be put into words?
Our Church teaches us that love is the gold standard of Christianity. Moreover, love is not a feeling. Love has two properties that can be measured: 1) scope and 2) size. We are taught to perfect our love by broadening the scope of our love and enlarging the size of our love. Our bishops teach us this. Love as Jesus loved, they tell us. Sacrificial love picks up the tab for others. Sacrificial love is a willingness to pay out of our own pockets the costs for the production of benefits to or the removal of burdens from our neighbors.
In teaching us to broaden the scope of our love and enlarge the size of our love, our bishops pull out the example of the good Samaritan. The conduct of the good Samaritan was a breakthrough in the science of love. He picked up the tab for a stranger. When it was Jesus's turn, Jesus pushed the envelope of love. He raised the bar that marks the upper limit of love far higher than the Good Samaritan did.
Jesus laid down his life for us (John 10:15-18) (John 15:13). Furthermore, he paid the ransom not from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the ransom from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us (1 Corinthians 7:23-24). He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else (John 15:13). The exorbitant size of the payment is irrefutable evidence of the exorbitant size of his love for us.
It was said that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13.) Jesus, however, proved this statement false. The false statement merely represented the conventional wisdom. Jesus destroyed the conventional wisdom. He obliterated it. He turned conventional wisdom on its head. Jesus showed us a love that was more radical - more extreme - than laying down one's life for our friends. How so? Jesus laid down his life for his enemies. Jesus picked up the tab for us, the very sinners who tortured and murdered him (Romans 5:8) (Matthew 7:6) (Luke 23:34). Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Wow! How radical is such love! How extreme! Is no one, not even his enemies, excluded from the scope of his love?
Some of us are made uneasy when our bishops take away the livelihoods of Church employees who live their lives contrary to the Church’s doctrine for a very good reason. Love is the gold standard of Christianity. Our bishops are falling far short of the gold standard. They themselves are deviating from Christian doctrine - deviating from a higher Christian doctrine - deviating from the doctrine of love. They are trashing the example of the good Samaritan and are trashing the example of Jesus. Instead of expanding the scope of their love, they are shrinking it. Instead of enlarging the size of their love, they are reducing it. They are not picking up the tab for their neighbors. There is a basis for the uneasiness of rank and file Catholics. The “violent” action of our bishops toward doctrinal deviancy violates the gold standard of Christianity. It violates love. Limiting the scope of love and the size of love is contrary to Christianity. Didn’t the good Samaritan love the stranger? Didn’t Jesus love his enemies who tortured and killed him? If Jesus loved his enemies, shouldn’t we do likewise? In the language of Orwellian doublespeak, our bishops will claim that they still love the Catholics whom they strip of their livelihood. Do not believe their claims of love. They are liars. Love can be measured. Both the scope of love and the size of love can be measured. The claims of our bishops don’t measure up.
WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?
A Christian is a child of Adam and Eve who is making his escape with the new exodus from holy place to holy place on the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land, the land of milk and honey Numbers 13:27. The servant of the new exodus is the Church; God is its master. The sour truth is pushing us along the escape route to the exit of the Valley of Tears. The sweet truth is pulling us to the entrance of paradise. The sour truth and the sweet truth are engines that generate the current of salvation. The current of salvation flows like a mighty river from the sourness of godlessness to the sweetness of paradise. The mighty river of truth sweeps us off our feet and carries us to our salvation. Only the recalcitrant few try to swim against it. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" John 8:32. Standing like a colossus at the nexus between the entrance of paradise and the exit of godlessness is Jesus. He becons us. Through his bloody wounds the great leap is made from time to eternity Our Lady of Good Success. He is the way John 14:6. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6. At the holy places that define the Christian escape route, God transforms us from sinners into saints. We do not transform ourselves. The Church does not transform us. Only God transforms us and he does so at the holy places. The transformation, however, is seldom instantaneous.The conception of a fully fledged Christian is a myth Birth of Athena. Unlike coffee, there is no such thing as an instant Christian. It takes time to make a Christian. We do not become Christian overnight. A human being develops from a baby in the womb through other stages of life including infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. A similar framework of development takes place in the thinking of a Christian. A Christian whose thinking is not quite up to speed with the thinking of the self-styled orthodox Christian is still a Christian for the same reason that a baby in the womb is still a human being. Furthermore, each of us is different. In the body of Christ are a variety of different organs. Every organ is not a heart John 14:2-3. In the body of Christ we see unity not uniformity Luke 11:18. Though different, each organ of the body of Christ cooperates.The diversity of organs does not stop the body of Christ from working. We are brothers and sisters of the escape, companions in the new exodus not much different than the pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Far better to be pilgrims passing through the Valley of Tears than settlers roosting in it. We are marching through the Valley of Tears hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm together as one family to the rhythmic beat of the loving heart of our living God! Examples of the holy places that define the Catholic escape route are the Mass, Confession, the other sacraments, works of charity, acts of kindness, prayer especially the rosary, Eucharistic adoration, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, fasting, the gathering of two or more together in God's name, bible study, contemplation of God, the hour of death, etc. Some of these holy places are recognized by other Christian communities and by other religions. Subscription to a particular code of morality prescribed by the Church does not define a Christian. Participating in the escape on the Christian escape route defines a Christian. Morality is the effect of becoming a Christian not its cause. Before we can expect one to behave like a Christian, we must first become a Christian.