The Work of Love

Posted by James Hahn on

A wise priest once told me that the Law of Charity supersedes all other laws.  What this means is that charity must come before any other rule or law.

Today's readings illustrate this message clearly.  Let us first replace the word "work" with "love" in the readings for today.

"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good love in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6

"Great are (is) the love of the Lord exquisite in all their delights."  "Majesty and glory are his love and his justice endures forever."  "He has made known to his people the power of  his love, giving them the inheritance of the nations."  Psalm 111:2, 3, & 6

If you doubt that this is really what is being said, go back and replace the word "work" with "labor".  I think you'll find a stark contrast in meaning.

You may say, "but the word work is not mentioned in the Gospel."  This is true enough but the Pharisees viewed even the healing that Jesus was doing as "work" and not love.  In the Gospel today the Pharisees replace the word "cure" with "work".  Jesus replaces the word "cure", with "love", with charity.  So there are two ways of looking at the question posed by Jesus -

 "Is it lawful to work on the Sabbath or not?"   or   "Is is lawful to love on the Sabbath or not?"

Jesus is trying to help them see their hypocrisy for even they had exceptions to the rule. Even they would "work" at rescuing child or animal on the Sabbath.  Why not rescue a man from a debilitating disease, or sin?

The Law of Charity supersedes all other laws and rules.  A quick illustration of this in our own lives would be the precept of attending (assisting) Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation.  The Church imposes a mortal sin for intentionally missing Mass on those days, and rightfully so.

However, what if you are very ill? The law of charity would supersede and say that you must stay home and get better.  What if you are on your way to Mass and your car breaks down or you witness a bad accident where you can help?  The law of charity says missing Mass because of circumstances beyond your control or in order to help someone in dire need incurs no sin.  The work of love is more important, in some cases, than the work of worship. (The word liturgy, by the way, means "the work of the people".  In my word replacement mood, I'd replace this "work" too with "love".)

Today, let us try to allow our work to be love, charity.  Let us make each diaper change a work of love.  Let us make each dish washed a work of love.  Let us make each nail hammered or wrench turned a work of love.  Let us make each part of our work today be a work of love.  For as St. Teresa of Calcutta said, "works of love are works of peace."  Lord knows we could certainly use more love, and peace, in the world today!

From the Saints

"You asked what you could offer the Lord.  I don't have to think twice about he answer: offer the same things as before, but do them better, finishing them off with a loving touch that will lead you to think more about him and less about yourself." - St. Josemaria Escriva (Furrow #495)*

*(This is an affiliate link which means I may receive a financial benefit if you were to purchase this item. I only recommend items that my family has personally used and owned.)

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