DO YOU HAVE FIERCE LOVE?

In my Lectio Divina meditation on Phil 2:5, I had some thoughts which I would like to share.

What kind of love is there that compels someone to do something they know will eventually result in great pain and even death? And not just any death, but death by crucifixion, scourging, beatings and wearing a crown of thorns.  I wouldn’t it. It is completely the opposite of B. F. Skinner’s operant conditioning, where pleasure and the avoidance of pain drive behavior.

Only the human will can act against its best interests and choose what may seem like a contradictory purpose to our nature. Yet, people do it all the time.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
You don’t get your life back. It is gone. This is the total emptying of self out of love for others. (Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22:34) Yet, even though this love is the highest form of sacrifice, the emptying of God to take on the nature of a slave, is even greater. You might even say it is fierce love.
Fierce love is the fifth threshold of life I write about in my book, Six Thresholds of Life, you may find in the Store section of this blog. I tried to describe love in human terms but always seem to fall short of a true description. Fierce love is a way to say that love is beyond telling. The best example I can give is not even human at all but comes from nature.  If the Sun radiates heat and light on earth, we can survive, in fact, we thrive on it. As we draw nearer to the Sun, we will eventually fry ourselves to a crisp. The Sun is like fierce love, the love God has in the Trinity, the unapproachable source of life. Jesus had to come as a mediator to teach us to go through Him to the Father so that our spirit will not be fried. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27
When the Church offers glory and honor to the Father, through the Son, by means of the Holy Spirit, the whole Church prays (those in Heaven, those still struggling on earth, and those awaiting purification). This is fierce love because it is the living sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to the Father once more. We simply tag along as those whom the Son chooses to bring with him. Fierce love happens only with Christ as the sacrificial victim.
Be it in individual contemplative prayer or in the Eucharistic prayer, it is only through Christ that we can approach fierce love. We receive back into our hearts the sustaining energy from God to continue to carry our crosses daily and to seek God, moving from self to God in our hearts and actions (behaviors). (See Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule)
The purpose of life is to love God with all my heart. (Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22:34)
To do that I try to read Chapter 4 every day, or at least some of it, to instill in my the heart and mind of The Master.
Here are some tools from Chapter 4 of the Rule, Tools for Good Works

1 First of all, love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole soul and all your strength, 2 and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27).

3 Then the following: You are not to kill,
4 not to commit adultery;
5 you are not to steal
6 nor to covet (Rom 13:9);
7 you are not to bear false witness (Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20).
8 You must honor everyone (1 Pet 2:17),
9 and never do to another what you do not want to be done to yourself (Tob 4:16; Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31).

10 Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ (Matt 16:24; Luke 9:23);
11 discipline your body (1 Cor 9:27);
12 do not pamper yourself,
13 but love fasting.
14 You must relieve the lot of the poor,
15 clothe the naked,
16 visit the sick (Matt 25:36),
17 and bury the dead.
18 Go to help the troubled
19 and console the sorrowing.

20 Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way;
21 the love of Christ must come before all else.
22 You are not to act in anger
23 or nurse a grudge.
24 Rid your heart of all deceit.
25 Never give a hollow greeting of peace
26 or turn away when someone needs your love.
27 Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false,
28 but speak the truth with heart and tongue.

29 Do not repay one bad turn with another (1 Thess 5:15; 1 Pet 3:9).
30 Do not injure anyone, but bear injuries patiently.
31 Love your enemies (Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27).
32 If people curse you, do not curse them back but bless them instead.
33 Endure persecution for the sake of justice (Matt 5:10).

34 You must not be proud,
35 nor be given to wine (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3).
36 Refrain from too much eating
37 or sleeping,
38 and from laziness (Rom 12:11).
39 Do not grumble
40 or speak ill of others.

41 Place your hope in God alone.
42 If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself,
43 but be certain that the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

44 Live in fear of judgment day
45 and have a great horror of hell.

Remember, say these every day, without fail. Where your heart is, there you will find your treasure.

So, when someone asks me, “How can you deal with having cardiac arrest (2007) and leukemia (CLL type)?, I just smile to myself and think of fierce love and how blessed I am to be counted among the lot of the saints.
That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

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