We have heard it said many times, “God is love!” What is God? Who is God? “God is love!” It’s impossible for God not to love us…his nature is to love everything and everyone…all the time.
We came to believe that God created us in his image. That means that he created us loveable…able to love and to be loved. We might even say, that we share his DNA. His <love> DNA flows through our bodies. It’s like the <look-a-like> gene we inherit from our parents…God’s <love gene> is already in our hearts and on our lips…we don’t have to look for it…it’s not hidden…or hard to find…we’re already wired to follow the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our neighbor is more than the families who live on our street…they live all over the world; our neighbor is more than the people we like…they’re also the ones we hate; our neighbor is more than the people who vote the way we do…they’re also the ones that don’t agree with us. And, yes, they’re the men and women who wear the suicide vests…and kill hundreds of innocents…while shouting, “God is great!” Just like the parents that don’t like their children’s actions, but still love them--we are commanded to love our neighbor who commits atrocities…because…everyone that God creates--is basically good. There’s something good in the worst-behaving, among us…we are challenged to love even that neighbor--because we love everything…and everybody…that God loves.
There’s a story about a third grader, by the name of Linda, who shared her school day’s experiences, with her family, gathered around the dinner table. She had shared how a girl in her class by the name of Amy, had been in competition with her all year, and she admitted some ill feelings towards her. One day…with eyes wide open in astonishment…she announced that she had learned something new in religion class…she learned that God loves everybody…even Amy! It may come as a surprise to some of us…that God actually…and emphatically, loves everybody…even the people we can’t imagine him loving…the ones…we don’t love. We couldn’t find a better example of how our thinking is so unlike God’s…our thoughts are not God’s thoughts…our ways are not God’s ways…and yet…they’re only as far apart as we want them to be…because…since birth…God’s ways are on our lips…and his thoughts are in our hearts.
Jesus knew God’s love…and God knew Jesus’ love…Jesus could not mention how much we are commanded to love God…without also mentioning…that it hinges, on us loving our neighbor…as much as we love ourselves. We might be surprised, that the neighbor we first need to learn to love…may very well be ourselves…and that we can’t love others…before we do. If we don’t like ourselves…how then are we supposed to like others?...on the contrary…it becomes easier to find fault with each other. When our self-esteem is low…we find it easy to criticize everything and everyone around us. We’ll stop doing it, when we find out why--we think so poorly of ourselves. We may come to realize that there is something in our lived experience, that has brought us to a negative state in our lives…we are at this moment, the product of our lived experiences…99.9% of what we have learned and experienced has served us well…but there might be something…that has kept us from developing…into the persons that we would like to be. It’s up to us to find help to process whatever it is…tweak it…modify…or change it to something positive. Once we like who we are…we’ll learn to cope and manage the negatives…so we can relate to our neighbors in a manner that will please the Lord--as we follow the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. It will be easier to hate the sin, but love the sinner; to help the person in need, even though they find themselves in a predicament--all of their own doing; place the needs of someone else…before our own. It will be easier to look for the good in others.
As we approach the Table of the Lord…to receive his Body and Blood…let’s pray for the persons that cause us problems…so we can love them as much as God loves them…let’s pray that the persons who have problems with us…will eventually love us as much as God loves us.