loving vs. using

In today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 23:1-12), Jesus speaks of the scribes and the Pharisees and warns His disciples not to be like them who “preach… but do not practice” and who “tie up heavy burdens…. lay them on people’s shoulders…. [but will] not lift a finger to move them.” Jesus goes on to say that “all their works are performed to be seen.” Ouch!

We twenty-somethings have grown up in day and age that has trained us to always ask: “Where is this getting me?” and “Is this the best use of my time?”. We’re focused on getting, getting, getting somewhere. And we’re focused on how not to lose, lose, lose time. At all costs. This is our modern world: a fixation on the “me” and the “my.”

As Bl. Pope John Paul II said, we have become increasingly “utilitarian.” Bl. Pope John Paul II also said that the opposite of loving a person is using a person.

When we “love” others only because we want to be praised  or to put something on a resume (“all our works to be seen”), or to feel good about ourselves, or to gain ephemeral pleasure (i.e. sexually, before the “forever” vows of marriage)… is this not using others? Bringing utilitarianism into our relationships is a travesty, and eventually serves as the foundation of the greatest evils against human dignity.

To combat “using,” I must learn how to selflessly give a gift of myself to others! Again, words from Bl. Pope John Paul II. Every day, I pray that I can be purified in my intentions in loving others.

Today’s Mass readings start off with a beautiful entrance antiphon: “Give light to my eyes lest I fall asleep in death, lest my enemy say: I have overcome him,” (Psalm 13(12):4-5). May Christ illuminate our eyes with real love, that we may never succumb to the lies of satan, who has replaced love with “using.”

Filled with the light that is Christ, I hope increasingly to forget, every day, the “me” in love. I want to love even when I receive nothing in return. I want to show others Christ’s love even when I know I will be mocked in return. And I want to love even when it hurts.

As St. Therese of Lisieux said, I am called to the vocation of LOVE. I am called to love God, to love all of the people who exist in my life, to love myself, and to love all of the tasks in my life, big and small, without counting the cost.

Let us pray that every day we may increasingly learn what it is to love genuinely!

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