FATHER FRANCIS MAPLE
"DON'T TALK OF LOVE, SHOW ME!"
In my spiritual reading I remember Jesus telling one saint, "Many receive Me in Holy Communion and very few say to Me the three little words I love to hear, 'I love you.'" So to please Jesus it would be good to remind ourselves to say those three little words to Our Lord every time we receive Him in Holy Communion.
May I suggest that those words should often be on the lips of husbands and wives, parents and children to each other. Those three little words, when spoken with sincerity, can change the colour of an entire day. When we do say them they should be backed up with actions, for actions speak louder than words. It is an insult to tell someone we love them unless we show that love in the things we do. This is especially true in matters of religion. It means absolutely nothing for you and me to speak of our love for the Lord unless we translate those words into deeds.
A husband can show his love for his wife by sending her flowers or giving her a box of chocolates or taking her out for a meal or decorating the kitchen or a number of other thoughtful ways. Parents can show their love for their children by spending time with them. Children can show their love for their parents by getting along with their brothers and sisters, helping with household chores and keeping their bedrooms tidy.
How can we show our love for the Lord? Jesus Himself tells us how we can when He says, "Keep my commandments." We can start with the Ten Commandments, but we mustn't stop there. The Pharisees took great pride in obeying those ancient laws, yet they made no pretence of loving Jesus.
They, in fact, hated Him and did everything they could to discredit Him. So if we show our love for the Lord by obeying His commandments, we must go beyond the moral laws of the Old Testament.
Just as children by loving their brothers and sisters can show their love for their parents we can show our love for Our Lord by loving one another.
What else can we do? If we had lived in the time of Jesus there were several things we could have done to Him personally to show our love. If we had been the innkeeper in Bethlehem, we could have made room for His mother and given Him a decent place in which to be born. If we had been the Samaritan woman by Jacob's well, we could have given Him a drink of water. If we had been the boy with the barley loaves and fish, we could have given Him the family's lunch so that He could use it to feed the hungry crowd. If we had been that landlord in Jerusalem, we could have loaned Him that upper room that He might eat the Passover with His disciples. If we had been Simon of Cyrene, we could have carried His cross. If we had been Joseph of Arimathea, we could have given Him our tomb. These were the things Jesus needed and some of these needs were met by some thoughtful people.
Jesus is no longer with us in His bodily presence. He needs none of those things now. So what can we do for Him? We can give Him our heart by spending quality time with Him in prayer. This may involve reorganising our lives, getting to bed a little bit earlier so that in the morning we can find time to say morning prayers or attending daily Mass.
We can show our love for Jesus by loving our neighbour and there are many opportunities for doing this. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us. We can send money to organisations that feed the hungry. We can find people who are lonely and befriend them. It may be an elderly person who can no longer get out and about. We may come across people in sorrow and let them know that we care. We may find people who are discouraged, and share with them a little of our courage.
That's what it means to love Jesus, being prayerful, caring and thoughtful people. Unless we translate our love for Him in down-to-earth, practical things like we have just mentioned, we can be certain that we don't love the Lord. In the musical 'My Fair Lady' Eliza Dolittle sang, "Words, words, words, I'm just sick of words. If you're in love, show me." Perhaps that song can help our protestations of love be backed up with actions of love.