7th Sunday of Easter B

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.”  Those words from the first letter of John are backed up in John’s Gospel when Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  So as long as God has loved us, it is our responsibility to love everyone.  I think that sounds great in theory, but in practice it seems… let’s just say it seems a little problematic.

Loving one another is quite an expectation to put on us.  To love without discrimination, without quantifying and without exception seems a dangerous road.  I want to say to Jesus, “sure I would like to love everyone, but have you ever met_______?”

There are plenty of reasons both universal and personal not to love everyone.  For me, first off, loving everyone sounds exhausting. I mean I love the people I love, but let’s face it, between worrying, talking and caring of them, loving the ones we already love takes up about 80% of our energy.  Imagine opening ourselves that way to everyone.  It makes me tired just thinking of it!

Then there is the problem that we hear of in the Gospel.   Jesus makes it clear that while we are in the world, the world does not own us. But we all sure pay taxes to the world.  Could we make it if we really loved one another?  In the real world, wouldn’t they say that these Catholics are vulnerable because they do not take advantage of others?  It is easy to get one by these Christians because they trust us?  Truly loving one another is a competitive disadvantage.

And many of us have been harmed and hurt.   We cannot feel that we can love those who have damaged or betrayed us.  And there are others whom we have harmed and hurt and we feel we can never overcome the isolation of these wounds to say we truly love the one we have damaged or betrayed.

We can play out a myriad of excuses for not loving one another.  We have neither the patience for some and others we find annoying and still others are just too different.  But all of them come to a screeching halt when we recall the full command.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.”

If you believe God so loved us, and I have to think that if you are reading this blog there is a good chance you do, then you will understand why we must love one another.  Do you think there was ever a day that someone was more annoying to us than we are to God?  Is there any possibility that we have ever been more patient with someone else that God is with us?  And even if we have been hurt, we must remember that we hurt God every time we sin, and all God responds with is perfect loving and forgiveness.  John is telling us in the love of God for us, we have more than enough to love one another.

The truth is there should be no other alternative in the Christian life.  Let’s see how our feelings usually evolve about another.  The very best of us will begin evaluating someone as neutral.  If they are not up to our taste we dislike them.  If they are ok and we are feeling generous, we like them.  And if they rock our world, if they can shake our souls and change our lives, to that small percentage, we say we love them.  And what is the only difference between those we dislike, like and love.  Judgment.  Now we know why Christ decried the idea of judgment for it is our reason not to love another.

Amazingly, we choose who to love precisely the way we pray God is not doing to us.  That is why we should not judge less God judge us.

Imagine a world where we truly loved one another.  A world where we presumed love and not neutrality.  Then I would place my trust in you and I would have confidence you would could trust in me.  Then my hope for you would never be extinguished and I could go forward with the confidence that you would never give up on me.  Imagine a world where we could pierce through our prejudices, rid ourselves of our judgments and fear to uncover the Holy Spirit within each of us, to see the face of Jesus Christ in our brothers and sisters that is surely there.

I know we can do it because we have been called to do it.  I believe with faith and not naiveté that this outcome is possible for I am certain that this world of enemies and hatred is not what the Father imagined or what the Son redeemed.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.”