Rev. John Kha Tran

A woman finds a magic lamp. She starts rubbing it and a genie emerges. The woman asks the genie to grant her three wishes:

  1. “When my husband sleeps, I want to always be by his side.”
  2. “When he wakes up in the morning, I want to be the first thing he grabs.”
  3. “I want him to take me everywhere he goes.”

And whoosh . . . the genie turns the woman into an Apple Smartphone!”

You want to be loved. I want to be loved. We want to be wanted. Everyone wants to be loved. Love is a human need.

A Need and an Obligation

I have recently watched the movie, “The October Baby.” It is the story of 19-year-old Hannah, who finds out she is adopted and is the survivor of an attempted abortion. She goes on a road trip to find answers, locate her birth mother and, painfully experiences unwanted again by her mother. She is confused and her life becomes empty. But ultimately she realizes that she has been very much loved and wanted by her adopted parents all her life. She thanks them for wanting her! I was deeply moved to hear her saying to her adopted parents, “Thank you for wanting me.” And because she is loved and wanted, she discovers the power to forgive her mother and the courage to live.

There is a need for love and be loved in every one of us. When this need is met, we will be able to live, grow and learn to love. The people to fill this need of love in us are primarily our parents. Our parents provide love for us and nurture us with their committed love. Since we receive love from our parents, we continue to grow and experience joy. And because our parents give us life, love us and want us, we naturally feel obligated to love and honor our parents.     

In the same way, faith teaches us that God is the source of life and love. God is above our parents too. There is no one else, but God who is the Creator of the universe and the source of life and love. God continues providing us with all the natural resources for life in the world. Therefore God has the right to expect us to love Him and honor Him. Jesus clarifies in the Gospel reading when the Scribes ask him what is the first and the most important commandment of all other commandments, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

A Misconception

I assume that all of us know these two greatest commandments, but I am sure none of us can say that we have fulfilled these two greatest commandments in life. Our biggest problem today is our misconception about love. We often limit and associate our love with feelings. We measure love with having warm, friendly and attracted feelings toward someone. Of course feelings of love call us to respond to the person or things we have feelings for. Many times in counseling for couples, I have heard them saying, “I have no feelings for him/her anymore.” And because there is no feeling there, they want to terminate the relationship. Many couples end up in divorce because they no longer have feelings for their spouses. This is a crisis of love. Of course it is easier to say “I love you” when we feel drawn or attracted to someone. But the love that Jesus is talking about is much more than feelings. It is the bonded love. This bonded love is the love with conviction. We do not love only with feelings but we also love with conviction. Love with feelings call us to do things for others when we feel like it. Love with conviction calls us to do things for others with commitment even when we feel we don’t like to do it at all.

It is easier to love with feelings and emotion. But love with feelings and emotion alone is not sufficient to prove the authenticity of our love. We also need to learn to love with conviction. Only love with conviction can prove that our love is authentic. Parents don’t have warm happy feelings to get up in the middle of the night to care for a crying baby. For example, a young couple is having their second new born baby. The husband is so impressed to hear his wife playing with the baby and coaching the baby to learn to say “daddy, daddy, daddy,” and they giggle with lot of laughing. He feels so good and happy that his baby keeps calling him, “Daddy, daddy!” And one day, the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and crying  “Daddy . . . Daddy!” His wife turns to him and says “The baby is calling you!”

It is also not fun for an adult child to care for an aging parent. For example, an older gentleman was on the operating table awaiting surgery. He has insisted that his son, a renowned surgeon, perform the operation. As he was about to get the anesthesia, he asked to speak to his son.
“Yes, Dad, what is it?”

“Don’t be nervous, son. Do your best. And just remember, if it doesn’t go well, if something happens to me, your mother is going to come and live with you and your wife.”

Sometime it is not fun, but we love with conviction requires sacrifice and selflessness. Love with conviction means we continue to do the right things for the sake of love even when we have no feelings of love at all. Love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength and love others as ourselves mean we faithfully loving and serving God and others no matter how we feel, or what happens to us. When we don’t get good feelings from prayer or attending Mass we don’t stop praying or going to Mass. When we don’t have good feelings for others, but if it is the right thing to do, we do it anyway. Our love for God and others can produce some but not measured by having good feelings. We can choose only to love with feelings, but only love with conviction proves to be authentic; and God is looking for the love with conviction from each of us.

A Choice

A woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. She said "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat."
"Is the man of the house home?” they asked.
"No", she replied. "He's out."
"Then we cannot come in", they replied.
In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened.
"Go tell them I am home and invite them in!"
The woman went out and invited the men in"
"We do not go into a House together," they replied.
"Why is that?" she asked.

One of the old men explained: "His name is Wealth," he said pointing to one of his friends and pointing to another one, he said "He is Success, and I am Love." Then he added, "Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home."

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. "How nice!!" he said. "Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!"

His wife disagreed. "My dear, why don't we invite Success?"

Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: "Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!"

"Let us heed our daughter-in-law's advice," said the husband to his wife.
"Go out and invite Love to be our guest."

The woman went out and asked the 3 old men, "Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest."

Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other 2 also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: "I only invited Love, Why are you coming in?"

The old men replied together: "If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would've stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!!!!!!"