Love as Christ Has Loved Us

This week's reflection is written by
Rev. Paul H. Colloton, OSFS/OPA

Last Sunday a woman came to Mass wearing a T-shirt with the words: “Kindness is my superpower.” It was very fitting given Jesus’ command in Sunday’s Gospel: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Notice that the command is to love as he has loved us. How did Jesus love? 1. He loved sacrificially. He laid down his life for his friends. He gave himself totally. Spouses, dearest friends, and anyone committed to a cause knows sacrificial love. 2. Jesus loved unconditionally. He ate with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes, the people viewed as less than human and unworthy of respect. People who work for the rights and dignity of: those society tends to dismiss, or immigrants, or those who believe differently than we do, or whose lifestyles we question. They show unconditional love. 3. Jesus loved mercifully. He forgave anyone who came seeking forgiveness. Since no one is without sin, all of us have experienced mercy at some point in life. To love as Jesus loved and live his commandment requires kindness and much more. It is darn difficult but not impossible.

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Next Monday our nation celebrates Memorial Day. The roots of this celebration go back to a town in Georgia following the end of the Civil War. Southern widows decided to honor the graves of soldiers who died in that war. But they did not only put flowers on the graves of Confederate soldiers. They also put flowers on the graves of Union or Northern soldiers, solders who were their enemies. The roots of our celebration reflect the sacrificial, unconditional, and merciful love of Jesus. I believe that the practice of those widows reflects our deepest values as Americans and as Catholic Christians. We have welcomed all from our beginnings and we lay down our lives for our beliefs and the rights of all people without exception.

We can only practice this difficult loving if we love in small ways on a regular basis, like: saying “Thank you;” “I’m sorry;” “Please;” greeting and acknowledging other people as human beings like ourselves; giving the gift of our time, talent, or treasure; and simply being present to those we meet. That is how we practice the love that helps us love sacrificially, unconditionally, and mercifully, like God loves us.

St. Francis de Sales taught that we should “Never miss an opportunity to do good.” My variation on those words is “Never miss an opportunity to love.” If we practice love each day, kindness will be our superpower and we will love one another as Jesus has loved us. Honor Memorial Day by following the example of those widows on the first Memorial Day. Put flowers on the graves of all and make everyday a time to remember those who sacrificed for our freedoms by loving like Jesus. Every day is a day to remember and live Jesus’ command. May God be praised!