We should love one another. 

Nobody said following Christ would be easy.   Thoughts of self-denial, of carrying the cross, even of martyrdom come to mind.   Such grand sacrifices, though, begin with the commission John gives in today’s first reading: love one another.   Love the people around you.   Hold them dear, even when they push you away.   Be devoted to their welfare, even if they seem indifferent to yours.   Hope and pray for their healing, just as you do for your own.

Not so easy, is it?   Christian author C. S. Lewis likens it to beginning the study of mathematics with basic addition and not calculus.   Start by forgiving your spouse, parents, or children for something they have said or done in the last week: for dishes left unwashed in the sink (again) perhaps or the car’s gas tank left on empty, for phone calls unmade or un returned, or for being left having to walk the dog in the rain.

Everyday life offers us many opportunities to love one another in small, concrete ways, “in deed and truth,”.   To love and not resent, to serve and not crave revenge—this kind of loving requires the death of something inside ourselves.   “The feeling of resentment, the desire for payback, must be simply killed,” says Lewis.   “It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible.”

Feelings can be stubborn, but God will help you.   He will give you everything you need to love your family as he has loved you.   When anger or bitterness rises up within you, stop and do your best to halt those thoughts.   Ask Jesus for the grace to think thoughts of love for that person, and then take one small step to treat them with kindness.   You may discover, over time, that you actually are becoming more loving.   You may find yourself hoping for “good” and even praying for those thoughtless coworkers, rude drivers, and ungodly “others” whom you find insufferable.   It doesn’t happen all at once, but it does happen.   Gradually.   Unnoticed.   Deep down in your heart.   Resolve today to give no place to negativity, and God’s grace will abound.

word among us