“I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
I’m sure everyone has watched at least one Disney princess movie, if not several. Each is a story of love and each has some version of good and evil. What I love about these movies is that good always prevails in the end and most of all LOVE.
LOVE can be easy at times and it can be very challenging. Have you had those relationships where it was very easy to love the other person? They made it so easy because they loved you back with a selfless kind of love. What about those challenging relationships? Some of these can be within our own families. It can be a mother, a father, a sibling, a spouse, a child, or a good friend. They may have hurt you in some way or their form of showing love was demanding and selfish.
I think when Jesus was giving this commandment to love one another as He loved us, He may have had these difficult relationships in mind. I can’t remember where I read this but in this piece I was reading the author was comparing what it would look like for us today to resemble what Jesus did on the cross. Would you every consider volunteering to take the place of a man who is about to be executed for murdering your child? Consider what Jesus did for each of us. That kind of love for another is pretty hard to swallow for probably all of us – to take the place of another on death row who murdered your child.
Truly let that sink in for a bit in alignment with this very commandment Jesus gives us to love one another and the very action Jesus did by giving His life for each of us, who was on death row for our sins against our Father.
I’m not a saint by any means but I want to share a personal story that helped me to realize what Jesus meant in relation to me when He said “love one another as I have loved you.” After Mass on Sunday and hearing the nice homily that the deacon delivered, I went about my normal business. Later in the week, I attended a banquet with my daughters. It was my evening to have my daughters. My daughters saw their dad and went to tell him hi and returned to my table. After sitting for several minutes, waiting for our table to be called up to get food, I caught a glimpse of their father on the other side of the cafeteria alone. I whispered to both my daughters to go sit with their dad until our table was called up for food. Now, this may seem like a normal story to most people and you may be saying I don’t get it. What I want to share is that deep down I knew that my ex would never do this for me. His actions have repeatedly been quite the opposite – and this past week was proof of the repeated offenses. My actions were a result of Christ within me and not a result of me as my selfish human form. It was Christ’s love that flowed through me to give me the grace to turn the other cheek and show love to a person who has hurt me deep within, who has left very deep scars and continues to inflict me. It wasn’t until later that I realized the connection between my actions that night and the reading and it brought some peace to me.
I won’t pretend it’s easy to respond in love to those that hurt us or someone who just makes it difficult to love them, because it isn’t. It is expected of us. Even those individuals are God’s children and He loves them just as much as He loves us. To love like Him, we MUST love those that we may feel don’t deserve our love. Look at the cross, we didn’t deserve God’s love either, yet He freely gave it to us.
Choosing to do what Jesus would do will always bring light in the darkness. GOOD ALWAYS WIN – just as in the Disney princess stories. So the next time you are faced with the challenge of showing love to someone who has made it difficult for you to love, take that initiative and act in loving kindness just as Jesus would do for you after you committed your worst sin.