April 28, 2013

Did He Mean Love Everyone?

In today's Gospel we hear the great commandment that Jesus gave his disciples: “As I have loved you, so also should you love one another.” What is this Love that Jesus commands of us? It is not simply a feeling or a nice sentiment. It is not something romanticized or something we might find in a Hallmark card. This kind of Love that Jesus commands of us is something radical. It is a complete giving of love to others, whether we feel like it or not, whether we like the person or not. Just recently this concept of Love has been tested in a dramatic way in my life. Like probably many of you I was glued to the TV on as the manhunt went on for the younger of the two men who planted the bomb at the Boston marathon and were responsible for the deaths of three people and the horrible injuries of so many others. I was hoping they would catch the young man, but I also found myself praying for him. That night, before we heard that he was captured, I was at a prayer gathering with some friends. We prayed for him and for all those who find themselves caught up in religious or political ideologies that cause them to commit horrific acts of terror. We prayed that he would be caught alive and that someday he may become aware of Christ’s Love for him. This is the radical Love that Jesus was talking about. Yes, we prayed for the victims and their families. We prayed very hard for them. Their lives are torn apart. But it is easy to pray for them because we feel such sympathy and concern for them. It is much harder to pray for those who we might feel don’t deserve our prayers.

While this is a dramatic example, right in our own community and perhaps even if our own families, there are people who we do not like or don’t want to be around. We might hold a grudge or feel great anger toward them. Radical Love means that we forgive them. We don’t have to become their BFF, but we do need to pray for them and hope that they open their hearts to the Love of Christ who gave us the ultimate act of Love. He died for our sins. He died for all of us so that we might have the opportunity to live with Him forever. This Love comes without conditions. On our part, we need to be open to receiving it.

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