Study: Consider the people in your life who are powerful examples of love. What practical things do they do to live God’s commandment?
Pray: Some people are hard to love. Ask God for the grace to love, following the example of Jesus.
Serve: Sometimes we say “I love you” through our actions. Where might an act of kindness be appropriate, especially with someone who is hard to talk to?
The commandment of Jesus today in the gospel reading is familiar to us all. We have heard these words countless times, and their meaning remains essential to our faith. When everything is said and done, there is one measure of our discipleship that counts above all others: LOVE.
The beauty of this commandment is that Christ himself is our model. Jesus lived the command of love perfectly; his thoughts, words, and actions are a template for us to follow in our everyday practice. In our moments of weakness and struggle, we can recall the life of the Lord to remind us that love is possible even in times of difficulty.
Why are their situations when it is so hard to love others as Jesus did? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Love is a CHOICE. Love cannot be forced from us, only freely given. Only through a sincere desire can love be true and genuine. And if we are not honestly intentional in our love, then it appears cheap and fake.
2. Love can be rejected. Once I freely choose to love another, there is no guarantee that it will be freely returned. My outstretched hand may be slapped; the olive branch of goodwill may be rejected. Since love requires a free will, then there is no way that I can force another to accept my love. (This is one reason why love is so powerful – a sincere love occurs when two persons freely choose each other…)
3. Love requires a risk. Much is at stake when we step out and love – our sense of identity, self-worth, integrity, and value are all placed in a sensitive spot as we entrust our hopes to another. Of course, sometimes we are afraid to risk – pulling back from others in order to protect ourselves from being hurt.
4. Love demands honesty. We cannot give what we do not have. To love with sincerity requires that we are in touch with our own hearts. We have to know ourselves (warts and all) to be sure that we are not using love as a cloak to cover our own fears and insecurities. In this regard love asks us to grow in knowledge of ourselves, so that we might confront our own limitations and shortcomings.
And yet God commands us to love! Indeed, this is the commandment by which everything else is measured. Our life, our faith, and all our behaviors are measured by this defining guide: the law of love.