To speak of love as a commandment seems awkward. Loving someone should be natural, should be a pleasure. Yet, Jesus puts the two concepts together. “This I command you: love one another.”
Some people are easier to love than others. Some people are best loved from a distance, while others we want always by our side—glued at the hip—like most husbands and wives. All relationships have “ups” and “downs”—good times and bad moments. Perhaps that’s the reason that Jesus made love a commandment—because He knew that we would be tempted to give up on one another. Love is a deliberate act of the will. We have to want to love someone. Almost without exception, love comes at a great price. The price is our life. We must be willing to give our life for the persons we love! Jesus did. He set the example. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s live for one’s friends.” The bottom line question: Are we willing to die for the ones we love? Do the people we love have priority over our own needs? Takes a lot of soul searching to come up with the answer. The ego, pride, wanting to be in control get in the way of loving. We do not have to look for obstacles; they just pop up every day, especially if we are trying to do what God wants. To love each other is what God wants. We do not have to be theologians to figure out that the will of God is as plain as the nose on our face. For the most part and especially in a marriage, love should make us happy. In loving we fulfill our vocation. We are relational beings. God did not make us to be miserable. Therefore, if we have made a mistake in a commitment, we need to make a change. To love someone should be life-giving, even when there is pain. Love needs to be a free choice.
After all, our life is not our own. We live for God, we live for others. In giving of ourselves to others we find out who we are. The mysterious unfolding of our life is full of surprises—never boring. Regardless of the hurts, the blessings usually outweigh the suffering. However, until we have suffered, we have nothing to say. Notice that Jesus didn’t make any profound statements until He was 30 years old. We really don’t know much about anything until we have traveled the road of life for awhile. Life is the best teacher, especially the bumps along the way. The real measurement that we love someone is suffering.
Ever notice that the majority of love songs are about pain, disappointment, betrayal. The way up is the way down. Consider that Good Friday comes before Easter. The same happens throughout our life. When there is pain we are tempted to think that we are all alone—that we are being singled out—that God is punishing us. Not true! He has called us “friends”. And God never changes His mind. His mercy does not depend upon our behavior—thank God. We try to be good, but we fail, over and over. The pages of the Bible are full of folks just like us—people who tried and failed—but God lifted them up. God wants to lift us up. We are not just an acquaintance, an anonymous face among the crowd, we are not a mistake—He has called us friends. A friend stands by those He loves no matte what happens. Certainly God has overlooked our faults, given the fact that His sacrifice paid the price for the sins of humanity. We are free. Time to celebrate the freedom which comes from knowing that we are loved without conditions. Unlike relationships that expect something in return, the Lord loves us just because.
We want to share what we have received. God’s love for us has to be contagious. We come to the Table where He feeds us as One family. We want to try to love one another as we are loved.