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Wednesday, August 23, 2000

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St. Rose of Lima

Ezekiel 34:1-11
Psalm 23
Matthew 20:1-16

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loving god for himself

"The reign of God is like the case of the owner of an estate who went out at dawn to hire workmen." —Matthew 20:1

"There is, of course, great gain in religion" (1 Tm 6:6). "While physical training is to some extent valuable, the discipline of religion is incalculably more so, with its promise of life here and hereafter" (1 Tm 4:8). There are such awesome benefits to Christianity that Christians are tempted to think that these benefits are the reason for Christianity. However, the essence of the Christian life is love — unconditional love — for God is this kind of love (1 Jn 4:16). For example, we should want to go to heaven not primarily because heaven is so good but because God lives there. Christianity should not be focused on the blessings of God but on the God Who blesses.

Because we are naturally selfish, it is difficult for God to get us to love Him for Himself. He nonetheless does this by making the cross the essence of Christianity. When we take up our crosses and suffer, we see that Christianity is not only about blessings. Through the cross, we enter into the love of the Crucified One.

Moreover, the Lord sometimes gives everlasting happiness to those who do very little to merit it (see Mt 20:9; Lk 23:43). If we've been carrying the crosses of Christianity to get something out of it, we may observe this and complain: "This last group did only an hour's work, but you have put them on the same basis as us" (Mt 20:12). The Christian life doesn't compute if we look primarily at the benefits. Thus, Christianity must be essentially about something else.

Be Christian. Live in unconditional love (Jn 15:9). Love God for Himself.

Prayer:  Father, may I love You even if I feel as Job felt.

Promise:  "I Myself will look after and tend My sheep." —Ez 34:11

Praise:  St. Rose lived a simple hermit's life in her parents' home, serving the poor and homeless of the neighborhood. She died at the young age of thirty-one. Yet upon her death, the entire city of Lima, Peru attended her funeral and gave glory to God for her life of holiness.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, March 8, 2000

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, March 9, 2000