January 12, 2020 - Pastor Message01/19/2020
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP PART 7: DIALOGUE (CONT.) “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another…We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers…The way that we came to know love was that Jesus laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:11, 14, 16, 18).
Continuing our reflection this month on the vital role that dialogue plays in our efforts to live as disciples of Christ, recall that last week we looked at listening as the first step of true dialogue. Only by listening to others can we really get to know them, and only by really knowing others can we effectively communicate the message of the Gospel to them, which is the fundamental task of every Christian disciple. That message is love, as we read in the Gospel of John: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that all who believe in him might not die but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).
In order to communicate God’s love in Christ, Jesus gives his disciples the Great Commandment: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:3435). The love Jesus commands is not an emotion; he does not command us to feel a certain way toward others. Nor is it expressed through sentimental words. The love he commands is an action, to humbly offer ourselves in service of others, just as he offers himself on the cross for all of us: “I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it” (John 13:1417).
Through listening, we come to know others and their needs. We are then able to respond to their needs with loving service. This kind of dialogue of action, or living words, forms the necessary precursor to any effective dialogue of spoken words. Only when people meet Christ in our deeds will they be able to hear him in our words. So let us put the words we profess about Christ into action by loving others in his name and get the dialogue going that leads others to discipleship.
Fr. Marc Stockton