lfbanner3a fall
July 22, 2018

"Love Hurts"

This is the opening line in the late 70s song by Nazareth. “Love hurts. Love scars. Love wounds, and mars any heart.” It really seemed to resonate with people, especially those who just recently had some not-so-fun times in their relationships. There appeared to be a kernel of truth in this song. Many people who were in long relationships or married, had been through some form of pain or suffering because of their relationship. Hence the song was often used to depict breakups, hardship, and sadness. It’s a great song to listen to when you want to wallow in your own romantic misery.

But, as Catholics, we cannot stop there. Because we are Catholic, we know love is more than ooey-gooey feelings, and sweet-talking. Love is more than being pleased. Love is more than getting what you want. Love is being open. Love is being vulnerable. Love is laying down your life for another when it doesn’t feel good. Love hurts, and that’s how it should be.

1 John 4:8 tells us “God is love.” God is about more than making us feel good about ourselves, about pleasing us, about getting what we want. If God is love, then he is open with us, vulnerable with us, and sacrificial for us. Just look up at the crucifix in Church (pay attention during Mass though!!!). That image, that crucifix, is the ultimate image of love. God does love us, but in a perfect way. We, in our vocations, are called to love Him the same way. Here’s where this weekend’s readings come in.

 We hear a lot about shepherds this weekend: “Woe to shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord”; “The Lord is my shepherd I shall want for nothing”; “…his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd”. As Christ informs us, a good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, and Christ himself is the Good Shepherd. A priest’s vocation is to follow in the footsteps of the good shepherd and shepherd His people. A priest’s vocation is to lay down his life for his people just as Christ did. His vocation is to love his people.

St. Paul tells us in the second reading “In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.” Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for us to be close to Him, but how does he “bring us near by His blood” today? By the hands of His priest as he brings you the Eucharist at Mass. By the hands of his priest as he absolves you. By the hands of the priest as he anoints you. By the hands of the priest as he baptizes you. By the hands of the priest as he blesses and witnesses your marriage. By the hands of your bishop as he confirms you. By the hands of your bishop as he ordains you. The priest brings us near to Jesus through his very life. Precisely by laying it down for us. It is in dying to himself, the priest is able to give life to his sheep. Love does, indeed, hurt, but it is exactly that pain which makes it beautiful and life-giving. So, love your pastors, and know that they love you with the Heart of Christ Himself.

“It is through its exhaustion in priestly ministrations, its constant use in preaching, teaching and converting, that it [the body] becomes a “living sacrifice”
–Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen