31st Week in Ordinary Time

 

The one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 

 

Lose weight overnight!   Develop one simple habit to make your marriage the best!   Instantly fix your budget!   Everyone wants quick fixes—effortless ways to accomplish things we find hard to do.   St. Paul’s assertion here, that love is the fulfillment of all the commandments, can sound like that same kind of thinking.   Satisfy every one of the commandments in the Bible with one simple line of action?   Sign me up!

But just as with all simple and instant solutions, reading the fine print can be illuminating.

Love is not simple, and it’s definitely not always easy.   As St. Paul famously wrote, it requires patience and kindness.   It requires that we not be jealous, quick-tempered, boastful, or proud.   We can’t brood over injuries or rejoice in wrongdoing (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The Greek word for this type of love, agape, conveys the sense of giving without expecting anything in return.   Loving someone like that is hard, and for most of us, it doesn’t come naturally.   For all of us, it’s work, the labor of a lifetime.   Even more to the point, we can’t do it on our own.   It requires extravagant amounts of divine grace.

Mercifully, God delights in lavishing that grace on anyone who asks.   He delights in giving it to anyone who humbly acknowledges that they just can’t say “I forgive you” one more time . . . or wait patiently for the slow steps of an aging parent or a distracted toddler . . . or resist directing scorn or sarcasm at an irritating coworker or thoughtless driver.

Every ordinary day presents opportunities for you to show sympathy or thoughtfulness to someone else or to refuse to entertain resentful or egotistic thoughts.   Every ordinary day you can grow in the love that is the fulfillment of the law, because God will help you. Even if you don’t feel like God is giving you the grace you need at the moment, believe that he is, and then act on it.   As C. S. Lewis once wrote, “When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him” (Mere Christianity).   And that actually does begin with one simple step!

“Father, I need your grace today to love people patiently, kindly, and selflessly.”

Psalm 112:1-2, 4-5, 9
Luke 14:25-33

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