2.15.21 God’s Love Expressed in Our LIves
I am convinced that we are to love, to value, to be interested in, to help everyone we meet. That is the way love works. If we follow Jesus, we are to engage with other people as love itself, God’s love, that is. It doesn’t matter if the other person is Black, White, Latino, Asian or a Native person, if they are like us or not, we are to love them as they are. It takes the first three steps of the Beatitudes to be able to love [Matthew 5:3-5]:
1)we have to realize that we are not the end all and be-all of this life, that we are “poor in spirit,” that we need God’s help in everything we do, that we are just one of the many billions of people on this planet, all created by God in His image. [Genesis 1:27];
2)we must have mourned our own pain and suffering so that we can clearly see how to comfort other people;
3)we must be meek, humble in all that we do, so that the story is not about us, but about the other person.
The Bible says to love your neighbor, your brother, the foreigner, virtually everyone. If we are following Jesus, let’s look to who he loved for guidance: Israelites of all classes, tax collectors, lepers, paralytics, non-Jews like the Samaritan woman at the well, a Roman centurion’s servant, a nobleman’s son, demoniacs, the blind, a man who could not speak, an invalid, a man whose hand was withered, the rich young man, the deaf. Most of these people were on the fringes of the society at the time.
Jesus often asked, “What do you want?” He was asking for them to tell him of their immediate desires, but also their hopes and dreams. He would heal them and send them on their way to a better, more fulfilling life. And so, we could ask that very question of the homeless, the hungry, the poor and needy and all others that we meet in our daily travels. What do you want? What do you hope for and dream about? How can I help? These questions clearly show our concern for and valuing of the other person. Hear what Mother Teresa said on this subject:
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”
When we bring God’s love to the person we meet, we are valuing that person, asking them to tell us about their lives so that we can understand how they got to be the person he or she is today. That is love.
Paul was so clear about love:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. “ [1 Corinthians 13:1-3]
Without love, all that we are and give and believe and have counts for nothing. To believe in Jesus Christ is not enough; we need to love fully and faithfully, to love with God’s love towards everyone we meet. In that way we are living the truth of Christ’s teachings. Matthew 25 says it so well:
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”[Vs. 35-36]
Jesus is saying that when we take care of others, we are taking care of Him. And how can we show our love, our faith, our trust in Him without helping other people?
In Galatians 5 Paul defines the qualities of love in the passage about the fruit of the spirit. Love is grounded in peace and joy as the person following Jesus finds his own true self. Love is expressed in patience, goodness, kindness and gentleness. Love is faithful and self-controlled or humble. [Galatians 5:22-23] These qualities of love express our connectedness to God’s love and our ability to express His love in this world.
Now that we are well into 2021, but still in a Covid-19-defined world, we could see the need to express God’s love in this world over Zoom or YouTube or at a 6’ distance or with our masks on or on the phone or Facetime with our friends and family and strangers. The time is not too far off when we’ll be able to express God’s love in person which will be so much more satisfying for both the giver and the receiver. Until then let us shower those we meet—at a distance—with God’s perfect love! Amen!
Questions to ponder over the week: How do I treat the stranger, the one who is different from me, the immigrant, the homeless, the needy one? How do I treat people I don’t know, who may be looking for my help, who are foreign to me? Equally or with disdain and avoidance? How do I help and why? What walls do I need to tear down in me in order to help, to love everyone I meet?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who express no prejudice, who welcome everyone, who see Christ in every stranger. May we be God’s indiscriminate love in this world.
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