Love Unlimited

Editor’s Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for Sunday, the 6th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; First John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17. This series appears each Wednesday.

Photography © by Andy Coan

All Are Welcome

Some people seem to think that the Catholic Church is just another multi-national corporation – Catholicism, Inc. – with the Pope as CEO.  Obviously, this view is a bit skewed, but is not totally off-base.  The Church is in fact an international organization.  That’s actually one of the meanings of the word Catholic – this church is no small sect limited to a particular ethnic enclave.  Rather, it is universal, intended to reach and include people from all nations.

That’s an important message of this Sunday’s first reading.  Jesus mission was first and foremost to the children of Israel.  But notice that he never restricted his ministry to Jews alone.  In fact the person he pointed out as having more faith than just about anyone else he’d met was not a Jew, but a Roman, the centurion whose servant he healed.

As with the master… so with the disciple.  Peter, the Vicar of Christ, meets another centurion who also exhibits faith and hunger for God.  Not only was he a Gentile, but he was an officer in the occupying army of the hated Romans.  He hadn’t even gone through RCIA and sacraments of initiation yet, and what does God do?  Pour out the Holy Spirit upon him and his companions!  How could these enemies be denied the sacrament of the Spirit when God had not hesitated to give them a generous measure of the Spirit?  Someone once said that Catholicism meant “Here comes everybody!”  In other words, the family is open to foreigners as well as countrymen, enemies as well as friends.

The Church is similar to a multi-national corporation in another respect.  It has very serious business to attend to.  Our second reading and the gospel sum up this business in a single word – love.  If you put this central concept together with the message of the first reading, you get both the mission statement and a good DBA for the corporate entity of the Catholic Church – Love Unlimited.  Human beings without saving grace are capable of some love, as pointed out by C.S. Lewis’s brilliant book, the Four Loves.  But it is always a limited sort of love.  It is limited in extension – we love our own country, our own family, our own spouse, our own friends.  It is also usually limited in intensity – we often are willing to love as long as it doesn’t cost too much.

But the love which is the church’s business is charity.  It is divine love that gives itself without limit to everyone without exception.  It is a love impossible for human beings without the divine power of the Holy Spirit that was poured upon the 120 at Pentecost and upon Cornelius and company on that day in Caesarea.  The first letter of John tells us that God’s offering up his only Son demonstrates the nature of this mind-boggling love.  John also shows us how to identify those who truly have the life-blood of God cursing through their veins – simply check to see if the same sort of love is evident in their lives.

To love in this way is a privilege and an obligation for the Christian.  But it is also a joy.  In fact, true spiritual joy is what every human being longs for.  But without the experience of receiving and giving this divine love, this joy can never be found.

Why were St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa so full of joy when they had nothing?  Because they gave everything.  Just like God did.  To love without limit is what God does, and so living of life of love means intimate friendship with God.

When it is all said and done, that’s really what it’s all about.  Doctrines, sacraments, canon law, customs, traditions and devotions–they are all designed to express and deepen this intimate union with God, this exciting adventure of love, that issues forth in more joy than we ever thought possible.


Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118. This article originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor and is reproduced here by permission of the author.


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About the Author

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock bands by the time he was 16. At that time he encountered a group of Catholics whose Christian life was an exciting adventure, an adventure worth living for. So he laid his bass guitar aside and embarked on a road that led to a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.

His writing has been published in the international journal Communio, Abingdon’s Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, the Tablet, Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service’s syndicated column "Faith Alive." His popular book, Exploring the Catholic Church and video course by the same name (known as Touching Jesus through the Church in the USA) have been used in hundreds of parishes all throughout the English speaking world. The Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about the Passion of the Christ, of which he is co-author and co-editor, may prove to be the fastest-selling Catholic book of all time with over a million copies sold in less than three months.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, the father of five and a business owner, brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth perspective that makes his words easy to understand and put into practice. Audio and video recordings of his popular teaching are internationally distributed. He often appears on the international Eternal Word Television Network is regularly heard on the nationally syndicated radio show "Catholic Answers Live." Dr. D'Ambrosio has been a guest on Geraldo Rivera, At Large on FoxNews Channel, the Bill O'Reilly radio show and Radio America's news program Dateline: Washington.

In 2001 Dr. D’Ambrosio left his position at the University of Dallas to develop the work of Crossroads Productions, the apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization that he co-founded twenty years ago, and to more directly oversee the growth of Wellness Opportunities Group a company dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives physically, mentally, and financially. He, his wife Susan, and their five children, reside just outside of San Antonio, TX.

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