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The strongest act of love is what Christ exhibited on Holy Week. For lack of an existing term, let's call it Eucharistic love. It is impossible for man to reach this without an abiding of God.

Let's describe the different levels of true love of neighbor starting from the lowest . . .lowest but, nevertheless, true love of neighbor.

The strongest force within man is love of self, which does not have the slightest element of love of neighbor. Love of neighbor is measured by the extent of good desired for oneself that one forgoes for his neighbor.

The first level of love of neighbor is when one forgoes things outside of oneself for the benefit of one's neighbor; like when St. Paul gave up eating meat because it scandalized his neighbor. To forgo an object is a degree of love of neighbor.

The second level is when one forgoes some comfort or convenience to one's body for the benefit of one's neighbor; like bearing the burden of work that a neighbor is neglecting OR even undergoing the punishment due to another.

Note that Christ did both in that He gave up home and crib during His birth and did the work man is supposed to do in saving his soul and took upon Himself the punishment due to man's sins.

The third level is when one lays down his life for his friend. Christ went one step further in that He died for us when we were His enemies.

The highest level of love, the Eucharistic love, is when Christ gave up His claims to Divinity, at least for a while, so that we can be with Him in heaven for all eternity.

When each member of a family aims at being together in heaven for all eternity and are willing to give up everything on earth to attain that end. . .that family has attained Eucharistic love. It should be the goal of everyone who hears Mass.

St. Thomas Aquinas






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