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Love and Self-Giving

“The word almsgiving…simply means to give of oneself above and beyond what is due…Someone might ask, what is wrong with having silver or horses, particularly when what the people believed was not rigorous? How should we respond? The prophet was not criticizing the use of these possessions but the misuse of them. When he said, “Woe to the mighty,” he was not condemning them for having possessions but for hoarding so much more than they needed.” Orthodox Study Bible, Tobit 4:7, St. John Chrysostom)


“There are many reasons to give: To feel good, to support a cause, to win admiration, to gain a write off on our taxes, to do our duty, to promote justice, or to bargain with God. We can give out of guilt, pity, or impulse or because we can’t say “no,” or because our friends are doing it. But a test of our motives is this: if we would know that we would not gain a reward for our charity before we opened our wallet, would we do it? Our love should reflect the love of God. And His love needs no other reason.” (Fr. Basil)


“But if someone claims that it is written: “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Jl 2:32 & Acts 2:21), and that therefore a Christian need only invoke the name of God to be saved, let him read what the Apostle has said: “How can they call upon him if they do not believe in him” (Rom 10:14). And besides this there are the words of the Lord himself: “Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mat 7:21). Moreover, if someone is doing the will of the Lord and does not do it exactly in the way ordained or does not do it out of the proper motive of love for God, then all the effort he puts into the action is useless, and Jesus Christ himself has said in his gospel: “Hypocrites do these things as to be seen by men: I tell you truthfully, they have already received their reward” (Mt 6:16). It was in this divine school that Saint Paul learned the lesson which he taught when he said: “If I give away all my possessions to feed the poor and give my body to be burned, but lack charity [love] it profits me nothing” (Cor 13:3).” (St. Basil the Great)


“…only love “works.” Whether it is the vibrant life of a parish, a diocese, a nation, or even the lofty world inhabited by patriarchs, only love allows the gift of God’s life to be fully manifest among us. The Church is only revealed through love. If we attend to the words of the epistles, the specific messages to Churches, we see the constant refrain and reminder to love one another, to let love be genuine, to be steadfast in love. Love best expresses the seed of the Kingdom. When planted, it grows. We do not know how. It moves mountains, raises the dead, casts out demons, feeds the poor, heals division, forgives sin. Love endures.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“Charity may be a very short word, but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it sums up man's entire relation to God and to his neighbor.” (St. Aelred of Rievaulx)


“We can’t even contain His love. But when you receive something, you must give something back. In the prayer called the Liturgical Anaphora it is said of God the Father: “Who hast so loved Thy world as to give Thine only-begotten Son”, and of the Savior Christ it is said, “In the night in which He was given up—or rather gave Himself up for the life of the world”. You see, the Love That gives Itself up! What you keep for yourself makes you poorer—you must give out love. And what do you give, sacrificing from your comfort, laziness, and complacency? What do you give to God? This love automatically encourages us to give.” (Protosinghel Galaction Dominte)


“Empathy with those in need is good if it leads us to help relieve or share their burden….Just having a spiritual experience is not what Christ calls us to do, rather we are to love one another as he loves us. Christ did not come to grant us feel good fuzzy moments, but to show us how to love others. For Christ ‘love’ is an action verb not a feeling noun.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)


“I don’t know if, in other eras, people experienced confusion regarding words, that is, that they said one thing and meant another. Despite the great achievements of scientific progress, technological development, the shrinking of distances, and tremendous communications, I think that, in our own age there’s the following particular contradiction: although we’re always waxing lyrical about love (in songs, poetry and prose), in reality we don’t know what it is, because, of course, we don’t live it. Insularity, self-interest and egocentrism are the main characteristics of our own times, in young and old alike. The sense of loneliness, the indifference to living or dying, isn’t seen only in some individuals, somewhere; it permeates the world and is confirmed by many people. Self-interest is taken as genuine interest, egotism as love. ‘I love you’ is interpreted as ‘I want you for myself, for my own needs’. Any movement towards helping someone in difficulty is a precursor of a demand for help for yourself when you need it in the future. When all’s said and done, is everything dark? Does nobody really love? Does everyone function out of self-interest and self-regard? Certainly not. There are always some who are ‘the salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world’. These are people who love perfectly and truly.” (Fr. Andreas Agathokleous)


“…there is the abiding reality of self-emptying love. A parent discovers in a child a fulfillment that comes in the life of the other. A spouse learns that who they themselves are is a secret hidden within the heart of their beloved. And, here and there, some discover that the only “self” that matters is the one that is hid with Christ in God, Who has hidden Himself within us that He might come and find us, treasures buried in a field, pearls of great price, lost coins awaiting the widow’s hand.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“And so it is with every act of self-giving love. Nothing can be taken from it that is not already given. Nothing can be added to it that is not already bestowed. And those who give up everything for the love of Christ in this world gain everything in the kingdom. Therefore, the promise of the kingdom is fulfilled in the cross. For the reign of God is the way of self-giving love. Wherever there is self-giving love, there is the kingdom. Those who give themselves in love gain everything, for they possess the kingdom of pure love.” (Fr. Basil)


“Christians believe that God is love. The Trinity defines love: the love of the Father for the Son, and the Son for the Father, of the Father for the Spirit, of the Son for the Spirit, and of the Spirit for the Father and the Son. It is, finally, a love which is so great that it went out of itself. This is why God created and sustains all that exists. Here we see that love is not a feeling or emotion, as many people think. Rather, love is a permanent relationship of self-giving and eternal mercy and compassion. Jesus Christ is the revelation to humanity of that permanent love, in which the Son lives in the Father, and the Father in the Son, and the Spirit in the Father and the Son. This kind of love is beyond our understanding. It is not rational. We cannot argue about it or prove it. However, we can experience it, and this experience changes lives and brings us into loving relationship with everything that exists, because God loves all things and is at work in all that exists.” (Fr. Brendan Pelphrey)


“What does it mean to take up one’s cross? If the Cross of Christ represents His self-sacrifice for humankind, perhaps, our cross is our self-sacrifice for the good of others. If on the Cross Christ offered Himself for the world, perhaps taking up our cross means offering our lives to others. With this in mind, we recall that Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (OSB John 15:12). Thus, self-giving is the essence of love. If this is true, then all who follow the Lord are to be priests. They are called to offer themselves for the blessing of others.” (Fr. Basil)


“Outward piety – acts done out of habit or conformity – loads “men with burdens hard to bear” (Lk 11:46). Slavish attention to our behavior separates us from the stirrings of the Holy Spirit. Our pious actions must be connected to God’s self-giving love, and above all to sharing His love with others in true joy, thankfulness, and delight.” (Dynamis 11/4/2020)


“Personal contact with God’s people always is a challenge...We have to maintain love for others…Personal relationships require considering others' needs, problems, moods, and life-concerns. In order to love, we are forced to step outside ourselves, consider the life-circumstances of others, and deliberately choose kind and thoughtful ways we may tender service to them. Personal movement from self to other is a commitment to loving “in Christ.” It demands struggle to move toward the Lord’s standard of self-giving, in hope of refreshing others in their hearts, recognizing that it may entail death to our own needs and desires.” (Dynamis 9/1/2012)


“There is too much emphasis today on what we think and feel. What matters is what we do. The essence of love is self-giving, giving of ourself to meet another person’s need. Many times circumstance presents itself to us to do this when we don’t feel like it, especially from family members and friends. We may be exhausted, want to relax, be by ourselves, and not be bothered with anything or anyone. There are certainly times we need to take care of ourselves and get proper rest. Christ did that Himself and encouraged His disciples to do the same but it was to be better prepared to love and serve others. The beautiful thing about self-giving is that it is also self-fulfillment, in the healthy and holy sense, because that is actually how we are made to be.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)


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