You shall love the Lord, your God. . . . [And] your neighbor as yourself. 

Saint Rose of Lima, Virgin (Optional Memorial)

Songwriters have long proclaimed that what the world needs is love.   But that lofty sentiment is a little vague on what love looks like or what it means to love someone.   By contrast, Jesus had the weight of a thousand-plus years of revelation from God backing him up when he told some Pharisees that the greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor.   The commandments themselves explain what love is and what it looks like.

So what does love look like?   Here’s one way to approach it.

Look at how God loves.   He delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, and he delivers each one of us out of the grip of our enemies—enemies like the pain of failed or abusive relationships, physical or emotional suffering, bitterness or resentment.

But how do we love God?   By proclaiming that he—not forms of escape like alcohol, drugs, or pornography—is strong enough to deliver and restore us.   We love him as we trust that God is just as willing to bring us out of patterns of sin or indifference as he was to bring the chosen people out of Egypt.

Let the knowledge of this love fill your heart.   Let it move you to tell him about your love in return.   Set aside the phone, computer, laundry, or bills to pray and give thanks for all the ways God has shown his love to you.   As you praise him for his kindness and goodness, you are opening yourself to receive even more of his love.

And how do we love our neighbors?   As God’s love fills us, it will also flow out of us.   It will expand our hearts and increase our capacity to love more humbly and more fully.

More than just performing acts of service, you love your neighbors by honoring and respecting them.   You love by restraining angry words or lustful and insulting thoughts.   You look at people the way God sees them, with the same love that he showers on you.

Yes, the world does need love, and God has shown us what it looks like.   So receive that love as often as you can—and give it away even more!

“Jesus, teach me how to love!”

Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14-16, 22
Psalm 146:5-10

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