SAINT ISIDORE (OPTIONAL MEMORIAL)
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
It’s difficult to imagine how we could ever love one another the way Jesus loves us. How could divine love compare to the way we humans try to love one another? But Jesus was both human and divine. He showed us in concrete, very human ways how to love. So if we want to follow this commandment, let’s look at what love looked like in his life.
Jesus’ love is unconditional. Think of the Samaritan woman at the well or the chief tax collector Zacchaeus (John 4:1-12; Luke 19:1-10). Jesus didn’t withhold his love until they reformed their lives. He knew that it was an encounter with his love that would spur them to change. So to love as Jesus loves means loving people as they are, even as we try to gently lead them to the Lord.
Jesus’ love is merciful. Look at how he treated the woman caught in adultery or the woman with the alabaster jar who anointed him (John 8:3-11; Luke 7:36-50). Look at how he forgave Peter’s threefold denial of him (John 21:15-17). Jesus even forgave his persecutors from the cross (Luke 23:34). Loving other people means being merciful toward them, just as we hope they will be merciful to us. It means letting Jesus’ mercy soften our hearts so that we are ready to forgive the hurts and sins that may come our way.
Jesus’ love is sacrificial. He traveled from place to place with nowhere to lay his head (Luke 9:58). He endured the opposition of the religious leaders. He “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,” knowing that he was going there to lay down his life on the cross to save us (9:51). Jesus shows us that love will involve sacrifice. It means putting other people’s needs ahead of our own, even—and especially—when it hurts to do so.
Loving the way Jesus loves us isn’t always easy. Fortunately, we not only have Jesus’ human example to show us what divine love looks like; we also have his presence in our hearts. As we daily open ourselves to his grace, we will find ourselves ever more willing and able to follow his way of love.
“Jesus, help me to love other people the way you love me.”
Psalm 57:8-10, 12