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BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED ME
Kathy Bernard - Publisher

"But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love."
1 John 4:8

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The young priest stood up, walked to the podium and looked out at the parishioners waiting expectantly for the homily.  He paused for a moment, then introduced a guest who sat in the front pew.  After reading the gospel, he told the church that in lieu of his usual sermon he wanted one of his dearest friends to come forward and share a unique and special story which would exemplify that Sunday's gospel.
 
A man rose and made his way up the steps to the altar and began to tell the following story:  "A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore.  The waves were so high that, even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized."

The speaker stood there, making eye contact with two teenagers who, for the first time since mass began, looked somewhat interested in the story but embarrassed by the man's tears and the unusual turn of events.  He continued, "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which boy would he throw the other end of the life line?  Oh my God which one?" 

"He only had only seconds to make a decision.  The father knew that his son believed in Jesus and was a good and faithful Catholic Christian, but he also knew that his son's friend did not believe in God.  The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of the waves.  As the father yelled out, 'I love you, son!', he threw out the lifeline to the son's friend.  By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night.  His body was never recovered."

By this time, the two young boys were sitting up straight in the pew, straining to hear his next words.  "The father," the man continued, "knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into an eternity without Christ.  Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save the friend."  With that, the man turned and sat down as heavy silence filled the room.   

The priest seemed deep in thought as he walked up to the podium and said, "No homily I can offer can match this story of Christian love except what St. John who wrote in John 3: 16 which tells,  "For God so loved  the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  With these words the priest resumed his seat.  

After the mass, the two teenagers pressed through the crowd to reach the guest speaker's side saying,  "That was a nice story," one of the boys said politely, "but I don't think it was very realistic for a father to give up his son's life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian."

"Well, you've got a point there," the man replied, glancing down at his hands.   Again, sorrow began to overtake the man's smiling face as he looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isn't very realistic, is it?  But I'm here today to tell you that I understand more than most the pain God must have felt to give up His only Son.  For you see, I'm the man who lost his son to the ocean that day, and my son's friend that I chose to save is your priest."

How absolute is the love our heavenly Father has poured out on us flawed beings. The magnitude of His love has no beginning and has no end.  It is unwavering and eternal, immeasurable and complete.  Though we are unworthy of the supreme gift of His Son, yet God gave.... because He first loved you and you and me.

The greatest gift God gives is Himself. The greatest return we can give God is ourselves.   When we reflect on God's love, we can understand that it is so precious and priceless no one, in spite of great wealth, can buy it.   

In Mark 8:34 Jesus tells us, "And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."  If you are someone who has not yet opened your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ I urge you to do so.  His offering is free and no Christmas gift, no matter how expensive can compare, for it is wrapped in everlasting love and salvation direct from God, our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ Who only asks that you take it, cherish it, share it and live it.  No earthly being, no matter how good, can offer this; only the Father and the Son.  Do not be the one who turns away. 

May the Lord be with you during this blessed time as we commemorate the birth of the Savior Who is our hope for eternal life.

 

"Let us therefore love God, because God first loved us"  1 John 4:19
 

Read a priest's poignant story with a song video here.  The song has a slow start so be patient:  
Living Monstrance Because He First Loved Me

 
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