April 7: Every Virtue is an Expression of Love. (Lent 5 C)

“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:16-21.

Ours has been a worshipful journey of wonder and miracles during the days of Lent. Along the way, we have considered this season as a particular time of worship, one that calls for movement: “to ascend the holy mountain, to tread the pilgrim path, to stand, to sit and to kneel.”

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, followed by the celebration of the Paschal Triduum on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. These “spiritual exercises” are the central proclamation of the Christian faith: the death of Jesus on the cross and his being raised from the dead by one whom he called God and Father.

To help prepare us for Holy Week, this Wednesday at our Chapel service, we will participate in a dramatic reading of the passion, weaving together both the gospel passages and worshiping in music and song.

Surrounding us in our chapel are the Stations of the Cross, these are fourteen images of the very moments in Jesus’s way to the cross.

In the Middles Ages, Franciscan friars after coming home to Europe from their Jerusalem pilgrimage made popular this devotion by placing these sketches of the passion of Christ along roadsides, later in churches that permitted others to share in their spiritual journey with Christ.

In a modern sense, these images are “travel posters” or billboard advertising of a sort on how we too might move toward Christ and the cross. Again, worship means a movement to Christ. One is to view each of these scenes and enter into the mystery.

So what’s the point of today’s gospel? Maybe this is the point of every gospel passage, namely that no one is unworthy of God’s love, and not any of us, and not this woman ready to be stoned by an angry mob.

We read: “Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his figure. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said: ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.'”

Later, in a very loving moment, Jesus said to the woman: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, do not sin anymore.”

A good friend of mine, Father Richard McBrien, once wrote: “Every virtue is an expression of love.”

If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is an ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; care without love is a mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude.

Every virtue is an expression of love. No virtue is a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love (1 Corinthians 13).

So we turn to Jesus, this “life force” as the teacher, the preacher, and healer of souls, and we want to see him person-to-person, and heart-to-heart.

As we continue with him on this journey, we listen for this invitation: “I have come that you may have life and that you may live it more abundantly; I am the light and the way to the Father.”

Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA







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