In Scripture Jesus tells us when we serve others, we are in fact serving Him. Our love is the answer to the culture of death. Love changes hearts.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta put it this way “Faith in action is love, and love in action is service.”
This kind of love is not of the sappy, feel-good kind, although sometimes that may be present. No, the love that truly answers the problems of the day requires self-sacrifice, long-term commitment, and a desire to serve.
Love requires us to be Christ to every person we meet and to not pass anyone by.
In 1994 – the Year of the Family – Saint John Paul II wrote a Letter to Families. In that text he spoke of welcoming Jesus in those around us, and how ultimately we will be judged on how well we loved.
“Our faith tells us that Jesus Christ, who “is seated at the right hand of the Father”, will come to judge the living and the dead. On the other hand, the Gospel of John assures us that Christ was sent “into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:17).
In what then does judgment consist? Christ himself gives the answer: “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world… But he who does what is true comes into the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought by God” (Jn 3:19, 21).
Recently, the Encyclical Veritatis Splendor also reminded us of this. Is Christ then a judge? Your own actions will judge you in the light of the truth which you know.
Fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, will be judged by their actions. Each one of us will be judged according to the Commandments, including those we have discussed in this Letter: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Commandments. But ultimately everyone will be judged on love, which is the deepest meaning and the summing-up of the Commandments. As Saint John of the Cross wrote: “In the evening of life we shall be judged on love”. Christ, the Redeemer and Bridegroom of mankind, “was born for this and came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of truth hears his voice” (cf. Jn 18:37). Christ will be the judge, but in the way that he himself indicated in speaking of the Last Judgment (cf. Mt 25:31-46). His will be a judgment on love, a judgment which will definitively confirm the truth that the Bridegroom was with us, without perhaps our having been aware of it.
The judge is the Bridegroom of the Church and of humanity. This is why he says, in passing his sentence: “Come, O blessed of my Father… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me” (Mt 25:34-36). This list could of course be lengthened, and countless other problems relevant to married and family life could be added. There we might very well find statements like: “I was an unborn child, and you welcomed me by letting me be born”; “I was an abandoned child, and you became my family”; “I was an orphan, and you adopted me and raised me as one of your own children”. Or again: “You helped mothers filled with uncertainty and exposed to wrongful pressure to welcome their unborn child and let it be born”; and “You helped large families and families in difficulty to look after and educate the children God gave them”. We could continue with a long and detailed list, including all those kinds of true moral and human good in which love is expressed.
This is the great harvest which the Redeemer of the world, to whom the Father has entrusted judgment, will come to reap. It is the harvest of grace and of good works, ripened by the breath of the Bridegroom in the Holy Spirit, who is ever at work in the world and in the Church. For all of this, let us give thanks to the Giver of every good gift.” (#22)
Prepare a meal, wash dishes, fold washing or vacuum for a family that has just welcomed a new baby or child, including those who have adopted, or are fostering.
Crusade for the Family Prayer
Mary, Mother of God, at your request, Jesus worked His first miracle. He changed water into wine for the wedding guests at Cana in Galilee. Over the centuries you have not ceased to obtain countless signs and wonders for the poor, exiled children of Eve. We therefore ask you to intercede with your Divine Son for the miraculous graces which the modern world so desperately needs:
- For the conversion and reconversion of whole nations to Jesus Christ and His teaching on marriage and the family.
- For the heroic preservation among Christians of their faith in the indissolubility of marriage, marital fidelity and the loving acceptance of children, as the bedrock of the Christian family.
- For the courage of martyrs in all of us followers of Christ, that we may witness to His power to overcome the powers of darkness that are bent on destroying the human family and the moral law.
Mary, Mother of the Holy Family, and mother of our families, pray for us. Amen.
Fr John Hardon, SJ
Available as a prayer card. Please contact us for copies.