Again, “We adore God Who is love, Who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him.”
(Pope Francis, 6/21/14)
Simply said, but not more simply said than the Gospel says it, the process that completes the salvation brought by Jesus Christ is to “love one another as I have loved you.” Obviously this love that is in imitation of Jesus, this love that saves, is not the same as the love taught and lived by Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Caesar, Constantine, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Rush Limbaugh, Chris Matthews or Hugh Hefner. It is not the same, first of all, because it is a love that is modeled on a unique life, Jesus of Nazareth. Second, it is not the same because as stated by the esteemed Catholic Biblical scholar, Rev. John L. McKenzie,
“The saving act of Jesus is an act of love. Theologians distinguish the God-ward and the man-ward aspect of the saving act. The New Testament does not use such a distinction. The saving act of love is all God-ward and all man-ward; it moves to God by moving toward man as Jesus tells his disciples they must do. He leaves no room for man to move to God except through his fellow man.
There is a subtle Christian logic to the ‘new commandmen’ in John 13:34: ‘A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you;’ and in 1 John 11: ‘If God so loved us we also ought to love one another.’ A more reasonable logic would conclude: ‘…that you love me as I have loved you,’ and ‘If God so loved us we also ought to love him.’ And this we would conclude, were not the New Testament so insistent on its own logic…God revealed in Jesus that he loves man and will deliver him through love and through nothing else” (The Power and The Wisdom, Imprimatur 1965).
So when St. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13 that Billy Sunday, Billy Graham or Fulton Sheen quality religious oratory amounts to nothing more than the boom of a gong if its motivation arises from other than Christlike love, or when he says that spectacular healings and faith (or science) that can produce wonders are meaningless if Christlike love is not their source and purpose, or when he says that social service in the extreme and civil disobedience unto death are worthless without Christlike love as their spirit and means, Paul knoweth of what he speaks. Those Christians, regardless of rank, who speak to the contrary do not knoweth of what they speak They may be reasonable ideologues of one ilk or another, but for some reason and out of some motivation they are prevaricating concerning the power, the only power, that Jesus reveals that saves and the process the only process that saves one and all. Nonviolent Love of all, friends and enemies, as taught and lived unto death and resurrection by Jesus is not a philosophical or ideological truth reaches by the use of reason. It is the saving love of God in Jesus in which we are called to share.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy (To be continued)