Kristus Aman Feast Day Triduum Day 3

Kristus Aman Feast Day Triduum Day 3 - Mary, Mother of Charity

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visitationGood evening sisters and brothers. Welcome back to the third day of our parish Triduum. As a recap of last night’s theme, “Beacon of Hope”, can anyone remember what we talked about yesterday?

We spoke about the meaning of Hope and how Mary and Us are beacons. We established that “Christian Hope” is to live in the present with the future in mind. Mary is given the title “Beacon of Hope” because just as Beacons are to warn, signal and celebrate, as a person as well as a symbol of the Church,
her life was one who did all that. And for us, by virtue of our baptism, we are already beacons. We just need to be aware of this constantly, so that our lives:
here in Church as well as out in the world does not contradict, but reflects Hope in a seemingly darkened world. 

And so this is where we come to our 3rd theological and final virtue: Charity, or also often known as LOVE. Completing a full cycle of the “Theological Virtues”. Since the readings of today and tomorrow will be the same, I will be breaking them over the final two days of this Triduum.

For today, we will focus on love, by reflecting on 3 questions:
What is our understanding of love and what are their Characteristics?
How is Mary a Mother of Charity?
How can we as a community of faith, be Charity to the world?

What is Love?

So what is love?
A woman was taking an afternoon nap. When she woke up, she told her husband,
"I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace. What do you think it means?"
"You'll know tonight," he said. 
That evening, the man came home with a small package 
and gave it to his wife. 
Delighted, she opened it to find a book entitled "The Meaning of Dreams."

So what is love?
Especially as Christians what do we understand by Love?
 To define it by secular terms today is not easy. Hundreds of books and songs have been written to describe it yet it still remains rather vague and abstract. This is because “Love” has become so subjective and loosely used today. That even among us as followers of Christ, we tend to define love by what we see in Hollywood movies, and read in romance novels. As a result, its truest meaning is either lost or misunderstood. An example of what I mean by this, would be how we use this one word “Love” to describe so many things: From our feelings for a a song...and even... to a piece of cake! And because it is so subjective and individual, it has caused much arguments over its definitions and applications. For example, to some, “Love” is defined by emotions: “I feel good” or “He or she makes me feel good, so it must be love”. While to others, to “Love” is defined by being overly inclusive: “We must love everything & anyone, even if it’s against natural law”. 

As a result, rather than just loving the sinner, we also love the sin. But the Christian understanding of “Love” is not based on emotions, neither is it about being overly inclusive. In fact, it has nothing to do with the individual in the first place. As Christians, “Love” is to participate in the divine life of the Trinity. Because if we were to look at the Scriptures and in the life of Jesus, “Love” is first and foremost a Communion of Persons. Not A person. In the Trinity, we see a whole relationship of love taking place. It’s the greatest love story this universe has ever known. In Hollywood terms, you might call it an “Academy Award Winner”. Because in this “love story”, we have the Lover; which is the Father, the Beloved; which is the Son and the love shared between them; which is the Holy Spirit. And the Good News about this, is that we can participate in this communion of love! Because Baptism incorporates us into the role of Christ the Beloved. We can be sure of this because we have faith; which is knowing this love and hope; which is living in trust that our destination is secured because of this love.

Also in today’s second reading it says:
“God had sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts: the Spirit that Cries, “Abba, Father”, and it is this Spirit that makes you a Son”.

The incarnation: God coming among us as man is not just to show His love for us. It is also an invitation for us to respond to the potential within us. “What potential?” you might ask. The potential to be like God when we participate in His life. Early Church father, St Irenaeus once said, “God became man, so that man can become god”.

Yes my sisters & brothers: “God became man, so that man can become god”. How beautiful is that? “God becoming man... so we can become god”.

Saying this however, does not mean, that we can be gods by our own effort or that we can actually be equal as God. No... For that would only be repeating the sin of Adam and Eve. Rather, what the words to “become god” is trying to tell us, is that we can share in the divine life of God. In other words, I become part of this Trinity of love through Christ. God who is the Lover, I the beloved and the Holy Spirit given to me at Baptism, which is the active and living relationship of love between God and Me. And this happens each time I choose love in my daily choices of life.

So to recap:
Love is not an emotion or simply an action. It is God Himself.
Second, to love is to be like God. Because when we love, we participate in the divine relationship of the Trinity.
And finally, we have love and we can love because of our baptism.

Characteristics of Love

Now let us now look at what are the characteristics of love. From today’s scripture, there are at least 4 characteristics of Love.

The first characteristic of love is: Love calls us to be other focused. 

To love is a selfless act. Not a selfish act. In the first reading when God gave Moses a blessing for Aaron to use, so that whenever the blessing is used, God will bless the people. It reminds us, that whenever we bless or be a blessing to people, be it in thought, word or deed, we are in fact participating in the divine life of God. Imagine that...we can be a blessing to someone...

It is a gift. A gift God bestows on us each and every day of our lives. Even and especially when we don’t think or feel that God is doing that. Or we think that the person we are to be a blessing to, does not “deserve” to be blessed. What we need to remember though, is that we can only be a blessing, when we are aware of our identity as God’s beloved. For we cannot give what we do not have or know in the first place. 

This is where “faith” comes into play. 

Because as we have established 2 days ago, that “Faith” is knowing both intellectually and experientially. So what we know intellectually and experientially is that God is love and that I am His beloved. But sin makes us doubt God’s love for us and our identity as His beloved. That’s why I am sure many who heard that quote from St Irenaeus earlier may have initially felt uncomfortable with it. Because we tend to focus and believe in our unworthiness more than on our role as His beloved. So as a means to cope with this, we love selfishly. And that is, to place the self before others. This is how we opt out from our participation in God’s love. Because to choose to be selfish, is to break away from this relationship.

The second characteristic of love is: Love is expressed uniquely and organically at different times and places. In the 2nd reading when St Paul speaks of an “appointed time when God sent His Son”, it was not to mean,
that God loved the ppl in the Heb Scriptures less than He loves us today. If that were to be the case, then we are in trouble... For it means that God’s love can change!

Rather, it is to tell us that while God loved them, the fullness of that Love, was expressed and revealed in the coming of Christ. Similar to the love between a pregnant mother and her child in her womb. While love is expressed before and after delivery they are expressed uniquely and organically according to different time and place. Prior to delivery, the mother shows love by eating the proper nutrients for the child in her to develop. After delivery, the mother continues to show this same love but in a more intimate manner. At both times, the mother has not loved the child any less. So when we are called to Love as a participation in the divine life of God, we too are called to love uniquely and organically according to different times and places. 

This is where “hope” comes into play.

Just as we have established yesterday, that “Hope” is about living in the present with the future in mind. So to Love, calls us to wait patiently whilst keeping our focus on God. It cannot be rushed for it needs to nurture and grow at its own time. But because we live in a fast paced society where everything is instant, we have grown so accustomed to it, until “waiting” has lost its place and value in society. Convenience is paramount in today’s society. In the process, we have sacrificed attachment and engagement today. So it’s no surprise, that as fast and easily as relationships are formed, it breaks down in equal time. Because many don’t realise, that love takes time to nurture and grow.

The third characteristic of love is: “Love” cannot be from a distance.

We see this in the 2nd reading where St Paul speaks of God coming to us and in the Gospel, the Shepherds left their flocks just to see the child. In today’s context, it is like lovers, who want to spend as much time together as they can. Because doing so, allows them to see & hear what the other sees & hears. This is why when we are being in the thick of people’s lives and situations, we are in fact participating in the divine life of God. Perhaps it is good to ask ourselves sometimes: Am I loving people by being with them? Or have I only been showing care and concern from a distance? An indicator of this would be how much are my choices to love,
driven by love or by avoidance of inconveniences to self?

The fourth and final characteristic of love is: “Love” must be freely shared.

Just like how every gift that God gives us, is always meant for building up the body of Christ, and not for personal gain, glory or pleasure. So too is love. This is where as baptised people of God, we share in the divine life of God, when we share this “Love” by living it in our daily life. Just like how the Trinity shares the love btw the Father and the Son. An example of this is in the enthusiasm of the Shepherds in today’s Gospel. They came and freely shared what they were told and by doing so, it edified those who were there to hear the Good News.

How about us? Do I share with such enthusiasm, God’s hand in my daily life, like the shepherds who left their flock as much as I would share my experience; either by word or social media of a good restaurant or a sale that I came across recently? So in short, the Christian understanding of “Love” is based on the Trinity. And because of our baptism, we can experience and engage in this divine life of God. 

As for the characteristics of love:
Love is to be other focused.
It is organic and unique according to different time and place.
It cannot be done from a distance.
And it is to be freely shared.

Mary Mother of Charity

Having established this, we can now turn to our next point of reflection, and that is Mary; who carries the title “Mother of Charity” because She participated in the divine life of God.Both as a person as well as symbol of the Church. 

As a person, she recognized her role as the “beloved”. For example, she was other focused in her fiat, her “Yes” to God. She could have easily said “No” to the angel Gabriel and live a life according to her own will and plan. But she said this for the good of the other. Not just herself. Her love was unique and organic at the wedding at Cana. Where she displayed her love by trusting in God and being obedient to instruct the servants to “do whatever Jesus tells them”. She was right there in the thick of each moment such as during her Son’s public ministry, at the foot of the Cross, and in the Upper room. And lastly, She shares the divine life with the Apostles and continues to share in our lives.

As a Symbol of Church, we also see many saints who have gone before us who have engaged and participated in God’s love by their life. They could have chosen the easier paths of comfort and convenience. But they recognized their role as Beloved in the divine life. Giving them the necessary graces and strength to persevere through the persecutions and difficulties of life. Some of these saints are in fact patron saints of some of our BEC’s such as St Monica, who through her love for her son Augustine never gave up praying for his conversion.

How can we as a community of faith, be instruments of Charity to the world?

Just as we have seen how our Blessed Mother and the Saints participated in the divine life of God in their life. As mentioned earlier, we as a body of Christ, can participate in the divine life by virtue of our baptism. And Mary as “Mother of Charity” helps us to see our role as “Mother Church”. Just as how a mother shows her love for her children, so too are we called to be a “Mother” to the world and to one another. Since today is the last day of the year, before the clock strikes midnight, it’s good to ask ourselves:

Have I in this past year, “Given birth” and “Nurtured” by my life this ”love” that has been sent into our hearts like Mary? This is how we assume the role of the “Beloved”. As Church, we assume the role of “Mother”, when we bring people to the faith through baptism. Not in a forceful manner however, but through the gentle influence, patience and persistence of a Mother. But often we forget our two-fold role because sin makes us doubt that we already have this love within us. We think that we must be very intellectual or knowledgeable in the faith in order to speak about God to people. But our Gospel today seems to be telling us otherwise. More important than being well versed in the faith, is our love for God and openness to Him. We see this in the simple shepherds in today’s Gospel who even in their simplicity, touched and astonished many. There was no teaching of philosophical or theological facts but the mere sharing of one’s experience. 

To participate in God’s love, is to first share our God experiences less from the head, but more from the heart like the Shepherds, and the many saints of the Church, who through their simplicity, touched the hearts of many: Again, saints that some of our BEC’s have adopted to be their patron, Saint such as St Pio and St Therese. In the Universal Church, we also have other saints, who by their simplicity, led many to encounter and love God. Saints such as St John Vianney, who what ppl today wld call “CMI” (Cannot Make It) during his seminary studies & St Francis of Assisi, who also in his simplicity, brought many to love God. And as we share this faith, we must not forget, that giving birth; bringing people to the faith should not stop there. Just as how a mother nurtures her baby upon delivery, so too are we called to nurture the faith of the new believer. How we do this, is to allow hope, which we defined yesterday, to compel and motivate us to nurture love to its fullness. And in doing so, Christ increases in all of us, as we decrease. This then also helps us to not “love from a distance” but instead, be instruments and participants of God’s love. So that we give more than just of our money to those in need but more importantly, give of our selves such as our time to those who need a listening ear.


Therefore, as we give thanks for the gift of Jesus at this Eucharist who through Him, we have Love allowing us, to participate in the divine life of God as His beloved. Let us ask through the intercession of Mary, our Mother of Charity, that we may always have the grace and strength, to participate in the divine life through our daily choices to love. by being other centred by being organic and unique in our love at different time and place by not loving from a distance and by freely sharing this gift of love that has been poured into our hearts at Baptism. So that in turn, whoever we may meet in life will come to not only know that we are followers of Christ but will also want to know, love and serve Christ themselves.