This whole week has been about loving God and one another. I am not sure if you figured that out yet among all the one liners that Jesus has been using this week:
Tues- If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I
Wed- Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.
Thurs- As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love!
Today- This I command you: love one another.
My question for you today is: Are we in L-U-V Love with God?
I decided to ask the internet what it means to be in love. My search was sidetracked by articles that were primarily focused on the love between humans. There was one article that struck me, however. It was how to know that you are in love with another human person. However, I would like to briefly relate the article’s points to a relationship with God.
1) Know that you focus on someone else’s interests, not just your own, when you are in love.
The key question for us is always, “What does God want me to do?” We look at what we can do in the world and focus on where God wants us to go.
2) Know that you do not need to share all the same interests to be in love.
There may not need to be 100% of the same interests shared in a relationship, but there should be some overlap. We know what God’s interests are: Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the poor, visiting the prisoner, talking with his mother, teaching the ignorant, world peace, etc. We also know that we are human. We have limitations to what we can and cannot do. We may become involved in St. Vincent de Paul and take food to the poor. As teachers, we can teach children or even adults. There are many ways that we can work to bring about the kingdom of God. This work does not have to be explicitly one of the things on this list. Rather, as long as our goals are in line with God’s then we are working with God.
3) Be yourself with the person you love and love them for being themselves as well.
We should never need to pretend we are someone that we are not, whether with each other or with God. Of course, God already knows who you are. God love you because of who you are, not always just in spite of who you are. This means that while God loves who you could become, God also loves you because of your quarks and personality. This is not to say that when you act completely contrary to God that it does not hurt God.
4) Know that loving someone doesn’t mean that you never fight.
We know this as common sense with each other. In our families, we may love them even though we argue like… well like siblings. Many people think it is wrong to be angry at God. About 1/3 of the psalms are called laments. These psalms are angry at God for not giving what the author needed or wanted. There are other places where, like Job, people are tested and they become angry at God. In these stories, much of the point is that we return to God in mind and spirit. Perhaps in the process, we will have to apologize for our anger… Just as we would for any of your family or friends.
5) Know that love takes time to develop.
Unless you are a psychologist, you wouldn’t expect to have a completely honest and open conversation with someone the first time that you meet them. The level of trust needs time to build. Each of us is at a different place in our relationship with God. Some people are ready to truly “Let go and let God.” They may see, hear, and experience God in many different places and in many different ways. Others are struggling to see or feel God in the Mass or in the Eucharist. Many of us are somewhere in the middle. One thing that is common to all of us is that we have places we can improve our relationship with God.
This has all been about how we love God. Today’s gospel didn’t say to Love God. Jesus told us to love one another. So, what about loving each other? There are people I know that I would rather not have to love. There are people that I just cannot stand to be around! Do I really have to love them? And what about people on the other side of the world from me? I don’t even know them!
It is important to recognize here that loving each other is not about being best friends or even having that type of relationship with them. Instead, loving them here is about wishing them the best possible life. Loving other means working for their good, even when it conflicts with something that benefits us.
Returning to my original question, “Are we in L-U-V Love with God and others?”
L-U-V love would be:
+Supporting, or doing nothing to change, a system of inequality that benefits you.
+Calling on God to be life’s repairman.
+Taking advantage of the generosity of others.
+Ensuring that your work is noticed so as to receive the praise of others.
+Doing favors for others so that they will owe you one in the future.
True love would be:
+Working for a fair wage for people in Africa and other countries, even though it will raise the price of things we want to buy.
+Working to secure that job for someone else that we know is more capable, even when this means that we are not considered for the same position.
+Protecting freedom of religion, even when that religion conflicts with our own.
+Refusing to accept extra change when a cashier makes a mistake in counting.
+Kicking a child out of the house when they have overstayed their welcome and need to move on, even though it is incredibly difficult to see them suffer.
+Helping, simply because you are available and you want to.
If we are honest, we are probably in both kinds of love God and with many different people. The goal of LUV is my benefit through you. The result of LUV love is short term satisfaction. The goal of true love is your benefit, period. The result of this kind of love is eternal Joy… and a fuzzy warm feeling inside.
So again, what kind of love are you in with God…. With others?