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Monday, October 10, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 Yom Kippur begins at sunset

John, Chapter 13, Verse 34-35
34 I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. 35 This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Have you ever wondered how Jesus really loved? How the disciples felt in His presence?
Jesus commands us to love one another even as He loved us.

The crux of this command is to understand how Jesus loved us. Our text reveals five aspects of this love:[1]

1. Jesus’ love was costly love (John 13:31-32).

For Jesus, the way was a costly one. He traveled the road of sorrows, and it ended with his death on a cross. Jesus was willing to suffer and die for us because his death would enable us to escape from our sins and to live with God forever. Though he was God in the flesh, Jesus let himself be whipped and spat on and crowned with thorns. He let himself be crucified, with nails driven through his hands and feet. He offered his life as an act of love for us--an act so perfect, so pure, and so valuable that it paid for the sins of the whole world. This was something only God could do. No matter what we might do to atone for our sins, we are merely finite creatures and never could pay for our offenses against the infinite holiness of God. But God could pay for them-- and, because he loves us, he did. After the Crucifixion, Jesus rose from the dead. The Resurrection serves as a sign of what is waiting for all who turn to God. One day Jesus will return, and those who have loved God will experience their own glorious resurrection, the overthrow of death, and eternal life in the love of God.[2]

2. Jesus’ love was caring love (John 13:33).

THE MANDATE of Christianity is simple: love. Yet in this simplicity, complicated problems can spring up like weeds, for we more often than not use “love” as a mere excuse for self-indulgence. In the modern world especially—although it has been a problem throughout Church history—we commonly scorn real love. We scorn the suffering, self-sacrificial love with which Christ loved us to save us from our sins. And even though Christ told us to love each other “as I have loved you,” we scorn this love because we have so perverted and eroticized the concept of “love” that we even condone sin today in the name of Christ.[3]

3. Jesus’ love was commanded love (John 13:34).

Some people claim that the Church puts too much emphasis on the concept of sin, and that, if parents didn’t scare children with talk of sin and focused more on love, the world would be a better place. This argument can even lead to the idea that we should accept everything in the name of Christian love, and that we lack charity and are being judgmental merely to speak about sin. “It’s offensive to another’s individuality,” they claim, “to say that something that ‘does not really hurt others’ is morally wrong.” Well, it’s a great sadness that most parents do not teach their children how to love. Love is hard work, and most parents shrink from that work. When children misbehave, for example, it’s far easier to tell the children that they will go to hell because of their misbehavior than it is to show them consistently, by example, that all behavior should be motivated by love for God. When parents take the easy way, the children grow up being afraid of hell and understanding nothing about real love.

The irony, though, is that parents fail to teach their children real love because they fail to understand the psychological reality of sin.[4]

4. Jesus’ love was conspicuous love (John 13:35).

In psychological terms, sin can be described as a sort of infatuation with the vanity of our personal desires. That is, most people are narcissistically preoccupied with their immediate desires and have little, if any, altruistic awareness of anyone or anything else around them. Psychologically, this behavior allows you to feel good about yourself (that is, to feel strong and “in control”) by using, hurting, or neglecting someone else. Sin therefore leads you away from true love and compassion, and it sends you right into all the predicaments of self-indulgence. Sin really does hurt others because sin defiles love. Simply teaching children to be kind to one another, therefore, will not make sin “take a back seat.” In fact, teaching kindness without also teaching the full meaning of sin unwittingly promotes sin. Without an awareness of sin, anything goes. “If it feels good, do it,” is equivalent to the devil’s motto: Do what thou wilt. To see what is really required to overcome sin, let’s look more closely at the various forms of love.[5]

5. Jesus’ love was committed love (John 13:36-38).

Love, in its purest and most divine meaning refers to something so far beyond our comprehension that it is, well, incomprehensible. Christian theology says that “God is love,” but most us can grasp that concept only intellectually. Many Catholic mystics through the ages, however, have had an immediate experiential encounter with divine love, and they all end up saying essentially the same thing: I thought my heart would burst and that I would die right there. This sort of love is what Catholic mysticism is all about: a love for Christ so overwhelming that a person would risk anything and give up anything to get close to it. But this divine love is not something you “fall into”; it’s something you have to work at. To understand this, let’s first consider love’s other forms naturally accessible to general human experience.

  • ·         A child’s love for a parent refers to a natural emotional bond every child must make with a caretaker in order to survive the helplessness of infancy and childhood. This childlike love for a parent serves as a preparation for the eventual experience of real love for God.
  •  ·         We also naturally love our siblings within our families; this is called brotherly love, and it is necessary for peace and growth in families—although sibling rivalry often manifests in dysfunctional families.
  •  ·         We can naturally love our neighbors, too; this is called neighborly love, and it, too, is necessary for social survival—although aggression and war often stain all societies.


·         What we commonly call romantic love, or erotic love (from the Greek eros), is just “common love”—a politically correct distortion of real love. Romance—in all truth, and contrary to popular sentiment—is actually a mixture of two things: a dependent, infantile attachment to a caretaker, and desire. Now, infantile dependence needs no further explanation.      Desire, in the psychological sense, refers to our attempts to fill ourselves with things that feel pleasurable or soothing, so as to hide from ourselves the reality of our essential human emptiness and brokenness. When you look at another person with desire, you do not see a soul en-robed in chaste beauty; you see only your own exuberant fantasy that your aching throb of loneliness might be alleviated.[6]

Desire isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. Although Buddhism, for example, teaches that all desire must be avoided, [1] and although Christian theology teaches us that misplaced desire can lead us straight into sin, desire can be raised to the level of the divine. In fact, that’s the essence of the Catholic mystic tradition: to desire union with God as the supreme desire. As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God (Psalm 42:2). In this mystical desire for God we turn away from the illusory social attractions of the world around us and turn only to God for strength and refuge. That’s what it means to “die” to the world. And that’s a necessary step toward holiness for everyone—clerics, religious, and the laity. Thus, our natural human capacity for some forms of love is but a faint reflection of the divine love by which God created and redeemed us. Yet when natural love is raised to the level of the divine through Christ, it enters into a true mystery. In regard to this mystery, Christ told us something very important.[7]

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.—John 15:13


Yom Kippur[8]

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is the last day to atone our sins of the Ten Days of Repentance, which start on the New Year (Rosh Hashanah). This is a fast mentioned in the Bible and the punishment mentioned for not keeping this fast is excommunication. Jews seek to 'purify their souls' on this day, by abstaining from common pleasures.  Yom Kippur is celebrated by most all Jewish denominations.  It is a fast day from the eve until the next day nightfall (twenty five hours).  No food or drink is permissible.  It is a day on which Jews 'afflict the soul', which includes wearing only non-leather shoes, not combing one's hair and no marital relations. For many Orthodox Jews, most of Yom Kippur is spent in prayer in the Synagogue.  Five prayer services are held (as opposed to the normal three daily prayers).

Yom Kippur Facts

  • ·         It is customary to eat a festive meal on the Eve of Yom Kippur with round challah bread, a meat meal and sustaining foods. One is not allowed to risk one's life and thus anyone in danger of life from fasting, including the young and sick are not allowed to fast. Yom Kippur is the only Jewish fast observed on a Sabbath, due to its importance.
  • ·         It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). Some people wear a Kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.
  • ·         Yom Kippur Liturgy in Orthodox and most Traditional communities includes Kol Nidre prayer in which Jews annul all their vows and Avinu Malkeinu, 'Our father our King'.
  • ·         The last of the Orthodox and traditional five Synagogue services for Yom Kippur is the Neilah service (final 'closing of the gates').  It is considered particularly heart-rendering and people often cry during the service.  At the end of the service, a Shofar (ram's horn) is blown and the end of the day is pronounced.
  • ·         Jews ask the Lord to be considered both as a child and as a servant.  They request from God that as a father of a child, God have mercy as a father does over his child.



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