Godtalk: Life to the Full


Man praying

Christ invites us to love each other as he loves us.   He doesn't say, love each other according to the spontaneous movements of our heart; nor, love each other as society defines love, but rather; ‘Love each other as I have loved you’ (John 15.12).  How well have we done that over the centuries?  How well do we do it today?

Loving like Christ means loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, reaching out to embrace those who hate us, praying for those who oppose us.   Have we forgiven those who hurt us, forgiven those who have murdered our loved ones? Have we, in the midst of being hurt, asked God to forgive the very people who are hurting us because they don’t know what they are doing?

Have we been big-hearted when we've been slighted or ignored, have we let understanding and empathy replace bitterness and our desire to withdraw. Have we let go of our grudges?

Have we let ourselves be vulnerable to the point of risking humiliation and rejection in our offers of love.  Have we given up our fear of being misunderstood, of not looking good, of not appearing strong and in control? 

Have we opened our hearts enough to imitate Jesus' universal embrace? Have we been able to stretch our hearts to see everyone as brother or sister, regardless of race, colour, or religion?

Have we brought the poor to our tables, and abandoned our inclination to be with the attractive and the influential?

Have we walked in patience, giving others the space they need to relate to us according to their own feelings? Have we been willing to sweat blood in order to be faithful?

Have we waited patiently, in God's good-time, for God's judgment on right and wrong?   Have we resisted our natural urge to judge others, to  impute motives. Have we left judgment to God?

Finally, not least, have we loved and forgiven ourselves, knowing that no mistake we make stands between us and God.  Have we trusted God's love enough to always begin again inside of God's infinite mercy?

Christ said he had come that we might have life to the full, so loving as Christ loves must be the way to this fullness (John 10.10). But ‘only two kinds of people think that love is easy:   saints, who through long years of self-sacrifice have made a habit of virtue, and the naïve who don't know what they're talking about’ (Maritain).

If Christianity was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict us?  

Peter Knott SJ