01 August 2008

LOVE IS THE ANSWER

Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Mt 5:13-19

Born in Naples, Italy, in the year 1696, Alphonsus was a lawyer before he became a priest. He remains up to this day one of the great moral theologians of the Church. He worked out a system called “Moderate Probabilism” which, in those days, was the most feasible system to arrive at solutions to moral problems. Aside from being a renowned moral theologian, he was also a great apostle of the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. But he was no self-serving genius. Alphonsus worked with great zeal for the poor and the sick. With his wisdom, holiness, and love for the underprivileged, he attracted a group of men to join him in founding the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer or, fondly called, The Redemptorist. In 1787, Alphonsus was called home by his Lord and Master to live with Him forever in heaven. Today is his feastday.

Three themes blends well on the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori this year. The first is the theme of Christian morality, of which Alphonsus was an outstanding teacher. The second is the theme of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, which the gospel prescribed on the memorial Alphonsus declares. The third is the theme of the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus that is the focus of liturgical celebrations on a day like today. The memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori this year falls on the first Friday of the month, the day dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus every month. What blends these three themes is love.

More than about obeying the Law or satisfying the demands of Christian ethics, Christian morality is about loving like Christ. Thus, the lesson that can be drawn from the gospel today is for us to find in Jesus, the Christ, the fulfillment of all moral norms, and to live morally is to live like Jesus. The first and perennial consideration of Christian morality is our daily and sincere efforts to become more and more like Jesus. And the measure of our progress in our efforts to become more and more like Jesus is manifested by how Christlike our love has become. This is the ultimate goal of our devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus must mold our hearts more and more unto the likeness of Jesus’ heart. The devotion has achieved its purpose if over and beyond the novena, the Holy Hour, the Acts of Reparation, and the First Friday Communions, we love like Jesus more and more each day. Configuration is the highest purpose of devotion, not reparation nor supplication. The devotee must eventually be like the object of his devotion.

St. Alphonsus Liguori teaches us the secret to solving even the greatest moral problems of all times. More than his sound writings on moral theology, it is his aspiration to become like Jesus and his actual Christlike love for the poor and the sick that instruct the world what truly fulfills the Law and creates a culture of positive moral values.

Let us live morally. Let us become more and more like Jesus. Let us love like Him.

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