In the fullness of time, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary into poverty and humility. The Messiah for whom the children of Israel had waited centuries had arrived in the Incarnation, the Son of God becoming man. His condescension to our human level was for the purpose of rescuing us from our sin through His words, actions, and sacrifice on the cross. He inserts himself into time and space to sanctify it and break the barrier that sin and death create to separate us from the love of our Creator.
Around the age of 30, Jesus begins His earthly ministry by traveling from city to city without a permanent residence. He teaches the people about what God is truly saying to them in the scriptures and He reveals to them the manner of life that God desires for them. Many people began to believe His words, and Jesus called them to Himself twelve Apostles who would intimately learn His teachings and watch how He lived them out. Eventually, they would be sent out to give the good news of Jesus to all the nations (Matthew 28:20).
What was the Good News that Jesus taught? Love. Jesus wanted the world to know that God loved us. This was something that was echoed in the writings of the Jewish scriptures. However, it was easy for the people of Israel to forget God’s love without His presence. Jesus healed the sick, cured the lame, and drove out demons all to show the people God’s desire to heal the brokenness of the world. He associated with the outcasts and sinners to demonstrate that God’s love has no limitations. He called out religious leaders to show that He loved them too much to leave them in hypocrisy. The love of God to the Israelites and the world was revealed through the person of Jesus whose incarnation was an act of love itself. The physicality of God in the person of Jesus becomes the full communion of God’s love because He addressed the needs of both body and soul.
But accepting the fact that God loves us is just the beginning of the Good News of Jesus. Recognizing the love of God not only shows us who God is, but it also reveals our sinfulness. This recognition is not one of condemnation. Rather, in the light of His face, we are saved (Psalm 80:4) because knowing our sins calls us to repentance to be like Him. Our response to God’s love is repentance and asking for mercy from Him, and God offers the avenue for repentance in Baptism. Giving us the grace of His own life, Baptism is a sacrament that Jesus instituted by sinking into the waters with sinners and elevating them to beloved sons and daughters with whom the Father is well pleased (Mark 1:11) . With this new inheritance, we enter into a life of love and this life is one that imitates the love of the Father.
The new life that Jesus revealed is one that is simple in theory but difficult in application. Jesus calls for us to love God above all things. After this correct ordering of our love to our creator, we are then to love His creation and all people, especially our enemies. As Jesus points out, what merit is there for loving those who love us (Luke 6:32). But loving those who persecute us shows the deeper meaning of love. Choosing to love someone without receiving anything positive in return shows that we truly desire a person’s good. God himself shows us this love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). In dying for us, God gained nothing but us, and we gained everything in Him.
The key to living out this truest form of love is through poverty. Jesus tells us that our material concerns stand in the way of us radically loving God and those around us. Only by abandoning our material attachments and possessions are we able to love perfectly like our heavenly father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). In this abandonment, we are only to seek first the Kingdom of God (love) and all material things will be provided for us (Matthew 6:33). Jesus not only instructs us to live out this poverty, but He lives it to the fullest, proving that poverty is the surest way to hear God’s voice and do His will. He does not ask us to do anything that He did not already do. Emptying ourselves of all material attachments, wants, and desires and clinging to the love of our heavenly Father is what we are called to do.
The key to entering into the life that God intended for us is found in the life of Jesus and the sacraments he gives us. In Him is our hope. The good news is that He gives Himself completely to us, body and soul which changes our disposition of our souls and the actions of our bodies. Love is what we are called to do at all times. It is what Jesus did for us. It is now our honor to show His love to the whole world.