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Ever noticed that in the movies, love is all about the feelings involved?
The butterflies on a first date...the anguish of unrequited love...the thrill of a marriage proposal...
(Hallmark movies rely on these feelings...in every single one of their three total story lines.)
And there's no doubt that love does involve the emotions.
But real, authentic love is something far more.
It's an icon of Divine love - the mutual love of the 3 Persons of the Most Holy Trinity.
And that kind of love - the love we're supposed to emulate - is defined by one unique and totally necessary feature - which I discuss in today's Sainthood Snippet.
God bless and enjoy!
P.S. Have you tried the Science of Sainthood for FREE? Check it out HERE!
Pope Benedict XVI tells us that sacrifice is at the heart of worship in all religions. Why? Because exterior sacrifice symbolizes interior sacrifice. Anyone familiar with history knows that sacrifice isn't only associated with the Christian faith. When our Lady of Guadalupe showed up in what's now Mexico, she appeared at a time when the Aztecs were sacrificing up to 80,000 people in a dedication of just one temple. In scripture, there were terrible religions like the worship of Moloch, where they literally offered live babies in sacrifice, which makes me almost wanna vomit. Not unlike the scourge of abortion, but there are lots more examples of sacrifice throughout history.
Sacrifice has been a part of religious practice throughout human history because it's written into our nature, right? It's built into our DNA. Now, why is that? We see the answer in the first chapter of Genesis, which tells us we were originally made in the image and likeness of God.
What does that mean? Well, how do we understand the Trinity? And you're like, well, sheesh, Matthew. We don't. How can we? The catechism says it's the central mystery of the Christian faith and of the Christian life. Give us a break. However, there are some things we do know, namely, that God has revealed himself as our Father, and Jesus is his son. And we also know how they relate to one another. Total self gift. This is the key. Everything we're talking about is really directed toward self gift. So keep that in mind. And this whole idea is really at the heart of the Trinity. The Father gives himself totally to the Son. The Son gives himself totally back to the Father. And from this mutual self donation, this mutual love proceeds the third person, the Holy Spirit.
Now, does that sound familiar? It should because our families are icons or images of the Holy Trinity. Husband gives himself to wife. Wife gives herself back to her husband. And what proceeds from this love? A third person, a little baby. So the Trinity is a community of divine persons who constantly make an offering of themselves to each other. To put it a different way, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit form a sacrificial family. And this is the family you and I were made to be a part of.
So God created us accordingly in his image and likeness. But when Adam sinned in the garden, he and all the rest of us lost our likeness to God. We're still made in the image of God, but there's a real sense in which we have lost our likeness to him through sin. And essentially, this is what the Christian life is all about. It's us trying to reclaim the likeness to God that was lost in the garden.
So how do we define this likeness? What is it that God does that we are called to begin doing? And again, the answer is loving self donation, self sacrifice. Vatican II tells us that man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self. So after the fall in the garden, God had to do something to help us become like him again, to teach us how to give of ourselves like Him. What he did was institute a system of sacrifice that was meant to teach us how to sacrifice ourselves, how to be like him. Like, all the sacrifices you read about in scripture weren't for God's sake. He's not a divine ego maniac, demanding we give him homage. You know, gimme a couple of goats and a bull, and why don't you throw in a sheep or two as well? Not at all. The sacrifices he asked for were for our sake.
He demanded the first fruits of the harvest and the best animals as offerings to him, because it taught us to give the best we have back to him. And ultimately, the best we can offer is ourselves. This is a huge point. Everything in the Catholic life is about sacrifice, not misery, sacrifice. Why? Because sacrifice is an expression of love. In fact, there can be no love without sacrifice. That's why husbands and wives wash the dishes after dinner while their kids go out to play, even though they've been working all day. That's why you help your buddy move, even though you're exhausted. It's an act of loving self-sacrifice. If you say you love someone and aren't willing to sacrifice for them, your love is a lie. So sacrificial love is the name of the game. That's who God is in Himself, and it's what we are called to as well. That's how we gain entrance into the sacrificial family of God into divine life. Again, that's what it's all about, right? As we said earlier, God sent his son Jesus to restore our life, and more particularly to restore us to His family.