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HOW WE MUST LOVE

Father Francis's picture
Week after Christmas

1 Jn. 3:11-21 & Jn. 1:43-45

From the beginning when our first parents lived in harmony loving each other came naturally. Once sin entered our world that harmony was destroyed. Instead of being filled with love and concern for each other we are tempted with feelings of envy and hatred. This was the sin of Cain who murdered his brother.

John calls us back to our original state to love each other. He even goes so far as to tell us to lay down our lives for each other, just like Jesus demonstrated his love for us.

There are some people who will tell you they find it easy to love everybody. But you just hurt them or unwittingly cross them and they will soon show you how much they love you! This is the opposite of what John is telling us: our love must be expressed not only in words but also in action, and even when it might be difficult.

How many people confuse the words ‘like’ and ‘love’? We are called upon to love everyone. We are not expected to like everyone. Liking some people is beyond our capabilities. How can you like someone who hurts you or your family? How can you like someone who is overbearing or untrustworthy or just boring?

We often find it difficult to warm to someone who makes derogatory remarks about our place of origin or something dear to us. I remember a priest coming to our school to give us our annual retreat. After the opening prayer he looked around our chapel and remarked, “Not much to write home about!” Immediately some of the boys took a dislike to him because they loved their little chapel. This was a natural response but is not what Jesus wants of us.

Philip in the Gospel was obviously very unimpressed with Jesus’ place of origin saying, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” But Jesus knowing what he said never stopped loving him. Did Jesus like the Pharisees? I very much doubt it. But He certainly loved them and died for them.

When Jesus commanded us to love people He meant that we must not wish them harm nor take revenge on them when they hurt us - and we must always pray for them.

Be in no doubt that true Christian love is very demanding. Have we this genuine love for others? If we do not try to love even our enemies, we have not grasped and lived the Christian message to the full. If we do love, by the grace of God, then, as John tells us, we are truly the children of God.

Jesus, may we learn to love everyone as You did, and then we shall truly deserve to be known as Your followers.

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