A Simple Command
Love one another. This phrase popped into my head more than once as I sat in Adoration. This isn’t some revolutionary, new concept the Church is rolling out. Rather, it’s a straight forward, clear command that Jesus gave us over 2000 years ago. And 2000 years later our search for loopholes is often
immediately preceded by our failure to heed this directive. We try to make excuses for our disobedience by trying to make the rule not apply to our particular situation. When I do this, I imagine Jesus giving me the exact same look I give my kids when they launch into a litany about why the chores didn’t get done or why they were arguing. I gave them a clear, direct command: “Put the clothes away and don’t annoy each other.” Yet they stand before me explaining why the clothes are still in the hamper and who started annoying who first. But don’t worry, we won’t sound this ridiculous to Jesus as we offer our excuses! No, we are telling Him the facts, the valid, legitimate reasons why it was impossible to love someone.
“I couldn’t love that person because he is constantly rude to me.”
“I couldn’t love that person because she was completely wrong in her position and wouldn’t hear other perspectives.”
In other words, “They started it!”
Can you feel Jesus rolling His merciful eyes at us?
The reality is that Jesus didn’t mention any caveats when He told us to love one another. He didn’t say, “love one another unless there’s a good reason not to.” So if we are followers of Jesus, we don’t have a choice:
We have to love the people who are unkind to us.
We have to love the people who support abhorrent positions.
We have to love the people who hate us.
Do we have to spend time with them and hang out together every weekend? No. Do we have to back down from what we know to be moral and right so as not to offend them? Never. But we have to love them which means we must pray for them and hope they receive eternal salvation. Yes, we need to ask God that the most awful person we know gets to heaven. That’s the love Jesus is describing because He’s asking us to see everyone as He sees them. The most hateful, despicable person is just as much a child of God as the most caring, loving person we know is. The ones who are furthest from Him are the ones he mourns and longs for because He is their Father. Now, we certainly shouldn’t condone the actions of hateful people but instead of levying hate right back at them, the most loving thing we can do is pray for a softening of their heart.
Pray that they seek God so they can experience His perfect love because when they do, they will share it with others. There are times I’ve prayed through gritted teeth, but eventually, it does get easier. As I continue to pray for those difficult people, my jaw slowly relaxes and I’m finally able to let go of my own
anger or disdain for that person. Jesus knew that if we simply followed his command to love, it may or may not change the other person, but it would certainly change us.
There are a million excuses I can offer for why I shouldn’t be expected to love some people but when I sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I honestly can’t think of one of them. When Jesus issued His command to “love one another” He knew it was clear and He also knew that it would be difficult for us at times. Jesus knew we would get it wrong often and He also knew that sometimes, we would get it right. On days when I come home to find the laundry put away and my kids laughing together on the couch, my heart is full because my children obeyed me. As I witness their expression of love, my eyes soften and my smile broadens. I hope that’s the same beautifully satisfied look Jesus has when we get His command right.