Deb Wagner
Freelance Writer
March 30, 2010 // Uncategorized

Learning how Jesus loves us

Deb Wagner
Freelance Writer

Palms decorate the pews at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on Sunday. In his homily, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades spoke of God’s perfect love for us. In Romans St. Paul writes, “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Bishop Rhoades celebrates Palm Sunday
at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

FORT WAYNE — “In the account of our Lord’s Passion and Death, we learn how Jesus has loved us,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said to the faithful who gathered for Palm Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. Palm Sunday includes the reading of the Passion narrative and marks the beginning of Holy Week.
The Mass began with the blessing of palms in the Mother Theodore Guérin Chapel on the cathedral grounds followed by a short procession to the palm-adorned cathedral.

In his homily, Bishop Rhoades added: “In the cross of Jesus, we see the depths of God’s love for us. There is no greater event of love in human history than the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the manifestation of God’s total and perfect love for us.”

He said: “The story of the Passion begins with the Last Supper when Jesus gives us the amazing gift of the Holy Eucharist, His very Body and Blood. So much does He love us that He desired to leave us this great sacrament so that we can share in His sacrifice and be strengthened by this spiritual food in our journey through life. So much does He love us that He allows us to participate, like the apostles, in the sacred banquet, which gives nourishment for our souls.”

Bishop Rhoades said, “Pope Benedict calls the Eucharist ‘the great school of love.’ He says that ‘when we participate regularly and with devotion in Holy Mass, when we spend a sustained time of adoration in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, it is easier to understand the length, breadth, height and depth of his love that goes beyond all knowledge.’”

Bishop Rhoades spoke of Catholics’ obligation to love: “As Catholics, as loving disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to join in this revolution, the revolution of love. Remember the words of Jesus: ‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love on another.’ This is our calling; this is our common vocation, to love as Jesus loved. This is how people are to know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ, by our love for one another. This includes loving our enemies as well as our friends.

“And true love means sacrifice, especially for the poor and the needy, the sick and the suffering, the rejected and the outcasts,” Bishop Rhoades added. “It includes love for our unborn brothers and sisters, for our immigrant brothers and sisters, for our Jewish and Muslim neighbors, for all people created in God’s image and likeness. We are to proclaim the Gospel of love in word and in deed. This is how we testify to our love for Jesus, by loving one another as He has loved us. As followers of Christ, we are called to imitate the One who vanquished hatred and death forever through love.”

Bishop Rhoades, who just returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, witnessed the tension, fears and animosity between the Jewish and Arab people. He said he asked himself if there will ever be peace in the Holy Land.
“Christ teaches us the way to true and lasting peace — it is the way of mercy and reconciliation, the way of love,” he said. “And this applies not only to the situation among nations and peoples, it applies to each one of us in our individual lives, in marriage and family life, and life in the community of the Church and in society. We need to learn to love as Jesus loved, which includes love of enemies. Yes, it can be difficult. We can only love in this way with the help of God’s grace. The Holy Eucharist, the sacrament of love, gives us the strength we need to love as Jesus loved.”
Bishop Rhoades encouraged the faithful to make Holy Week a truly “holy” week by spending extra time in prayer and reading, meditating and reflecting on the Gospel of the Passion. He also encouraged the faithful to attend the Holy Week liturgies.

He said, “My prayer is that the Lord will fill you with a greater awareness of His love, that you will experience deep in your hearts the depth and intensity of God’s love for you. This is what motivates and empowers us then to love one another. The cross of Jesus Christ is the sign of the victory of God’s love!”

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