Following Jesus is following the path of love. It looks easy on the surface, but in reality, we all know that it is not. Love implies making decisions that are usually very difficult. It requires a selfless heart. Real and authentic love is accompanied by self-sacrifice.
In order to prepare ourselves for sacrificial love, Jesus asks us to make our love for God paramount. “If man possesses any strong attachment to the things of the earth, he cannot possess true charity.” (St. Maximus the Confessor) When the attachments of the world are more important to us than love itself, all is lost. We cling to material goods and human feelings that ultimately leave us feeling empty and ultimately separate us from God. We drown trying to fill our voids without realizing that the only thing that fills us is love…love for God and love for neighbor!
Once we have rid ourselves of our earthly attachments, we are ready to fully love. Jesus calls us to help others in the journey of this life, stripping ourselves of self-need and serving others without judging. We can’t call ourselves Christians if we are not able to offer a helping hand, a joyful smile and a faithful heart to our neighbor. Serving is a sacrifice of worship; it is a way of imitating Christ and of becoming his disciples. Without love it is impossible to serve, impossible to surrender and impossible to leave behind our selfishness.
We love when love is reciprocated; when there is no contempt and no pain, but what about when it is not reciprocated? It is difficult to set aside our whims, selfishness and bad feelings towards others, especially when we are the only ones doing so. This is because we are terrified of being vulnerable and we fear getting hurt, but, as St. Teresa of Calcutta tells us, “For a sacrifice to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty our beings.” What wise and beautiful words! What about you? How much does it take for you to love?
Jesus courageously faced suffering so that we could come out of the darkness and be illuminated by his light! Jesus’ love, therefore, was not weak; it was his intention that our love should be as durable, strong and persistent as his. He paid the ultimate price for his love on the cross, that’s why he tells us the following, “Whoever does not carry his own cross to follow me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) By throwing the cross on our shoulders, we leave selfishness behind. The egoist cannot adequately love, follow or obey. Fortunately, the cross weighs less when we carry it with love! Let’s remember that there is a great promise at the end of the road — the promise of eternal life!
Thankfully, the drops of Jesus’ blood were not shed in vain; they were shed out of love for humanity! In this world that is fearful of love, let us remember our role as followers of Christ and truly be living examples of Jesus’ love in our homes, communities, churches, and workplaces. Let us learn to imitate Jesus’ altruistic and dynamic love and ask God for the grace to understand the true meaning of love so that we can transmit it in our daily lives wherever we go!
Leiri Bocanegra was born in Villalba, Puerto Rico but now resides in Massachusetts with her Husband and four children. Leiri and her husband Gustavo met in their parish youth group, “Agape,” and have been serving together ever since! You can usually find them singing together at church events and retreats! Leiri works as the Coordinator of Outreach and Evangelization for St. Mary’s Parish in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also has a nursing background in both Geriatrics and Pediatrics. She has been a member of the Holy Family Institute for six years and enjoys Family Ministry. Her biggest accomplishment has been becoming a mother. She enjoys being able to use social platforms to help other Catholic mothers connect and assist one another through the wonderful vocation of motherhood!