By Our Love
Jesus, Friend of Sinners
The message this week is quite simple, yes, even as it is taken from the COMPLICATED and sometimes CONFUSING Gospel of John, the message is simple... "Love one another." (Don't believe me? Look here.) That's it. Blog over. Have a good day.
Yeah right, if only it was this easy! The Gospel passage for this fifth Sunday of Easter is far more complex than just a simple "love one another." I don't mean to say that the phrase isn't found in the Scripture, it is very much in the Scripture, but it isn't what it seems. First of all, the call to love one another is a constant reminder of the life we are called to live as Christians, a life that is both challenging and rewarding. This call to love is also an invitation to participate in an authentic way, in the life of Christ. As Christians, mediocrity is not an option. We are called to love, and we are called to find life in love. For us Christians, however, the hangup comes when we believe ourselves on a different track of being Christian. All too often, it is easier to fall into the habit of living a life of checklists. For example, we may believe that we are living a good Christian life because we have all our Sacraments and are submitting our own children to the same. Or we may think ourselves saintly because we have a choice charity that we often support. Or maybe, just maybe, we think ourselves beyond reproach because of all the Girl Scout Cookies we purchased this year. Whatever our checklist may contain, it can be too easy to convince ourselves that we are good, and while these actions don't necessarily exclude us from being considered good, there is something far more profound that Christ calls us to when He calls us to "love one another."
In some regard, the call to love is seen in the making of the Eucharistic bread. It takes elements from different realities which are in turn combined to make this bread. Too much of one thing, or too little of another, and the bread won't be right. The same can be applied to our lives. Too much focus on one area of our Christian journey, and not enough on another, can leave us wanting more. All this being said, it is important to remember that Christ's call to love is one that transcends my comfort zones and leads me to a love that is given freely and without reserve to others. A love that in turn gives me life and a love that is born out of Love Himself, Christ. This then takes me to one of the many challenging aspects of loving as Christ did, and that would be prayer. How do I pray? When do I pray? Do I pray? How is it that I build up my relationship with God, and how is it that my knowing God's love, inspires my own loving? This question is one that must be asked on a daily basis, and one that must be considered constantly. How am I to love as Christ, if the only experience I have of Him is once a week on Sunday?
This call to love, however, also calls us beyond the security blankets that our different churches can so easily offer us. Instead of seeing another Church, or a member of another Church as an enemy or a potential member of my church, what would it look like to extend a hand of welcome and love in celebration of our diversity? what would it look like to see the other as Brother or Sister instead of "one of those people?" Instead of waging wars against each other as different Christian denominations, what would it look like to love?
I was once told by a priest professor that I was "too saccharine" falsely sweet, and while this may seem true, I refuse to believe that as a Christian, I have to live isolated from anyone not like me. Christ doesn't call us to be friends with everybody, Christ calls us to love, and love is made real in many different ways, even when I may not like someone.
For now, I believe I have ranted far too long. Thank you for persevering through this blog, and as always, know that you are beautiful and you are loved. God bless you. Fr. Rick