loving an ugly bride
"Has this house which bears My name become in your eyes a den of thieves?" —Jeremiah 7:11
"Christ loved the Church. He gave Himself up for her" (Eph 5:25). We too must love the Church, which is Jesus' body, and give our lives for her, if we are to love Jesus.
However, this is humanly impossible, for the Church is partly made up of unrepentant sinners, whom the Lord calls "thieves" (Jer 7:11) and weeds (Mt 13:24ff). How can we love unrepentant sinners and hypocrites? Even Jesus said He was nauseated by lukewarm Christians (Rv 3:16). Jesus, Who loves Judas and all sinners, will give us the grace to love the "unlovable." The Father loved even unrepentant sinners so much that He gave Jesus to die on the cross for them (see Jn 3:16). The Holy Spirit produces in us the fruit of love, even for enemies (see Gal 5:22).
To receive the grace from the Holy Trinity to love the "unlovable" in the Church, we must begin by accepting the grace of:
- first repenting of our sins and removing "the plank" from our eyes (Mt 7:5),
- forgiving those who sin against us (see Mt 6:12), and
- resisting the temptation to judge the character and motives of others (Mt 7:1).
Then in love we can correct sinners gently and humbly (Gal 6:1). This purifies and beautifies the Church. If our correction is not accepted, we should not try manipulation but redemptive suffering. We can even rejoice to suffer for the Church (Col 1:24). This is the ultimate act of love for Jesus and His Church. If you love Jesus, love His Church (Eph 5:25).
Prayer: Father, thank You for having mercy on me in the ugliness of my sinfulness. May I give this mercy to others.
Promise: "My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." —Ps 84:3
Praise: Bill trusts in Jesus to provide for donations to build a chapel. On numerous occasions, donations have arrived for the exact amount he needs at each phase of the project.
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert A. Stricker, December 13, 2003
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 18, 2003