A repost from 2006. . .
St. Martin de Porres: Philippians 4.4-9 and Matthew 22.34-40
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Serra Club Mass & Church of the Incarnation
Here are a few reasons why we should ignore Jesus’ command to love one another. Oh, “loving God,” by the way, is fine b/c that’s mostly an abstract sort of thing that doesn’t really require us to do much beyond saying that we love God. It’s not like the God-lovers glow or anything. OK. Back to the reasons to ignore Jesus:
1). Love is messy and it makes you act stupid: as a passion love is fine, but when indulged it turns the lover into a hopeless mess and promotes really dumb decision-making. Take Jesus, for example. Because he indulged in loving us, he ended up a real mess on a whipping post and nailed to a cross. He could’ve stopped the blood bath at any point and gotten off that brutal carnival ride, but he didn’t. He died for us instead.
2). Love is expensive: show me one act of love that is free, and I’ll show you some land near 114 that’s prime for a catfish farm. Love always seems to have a price. What’s the point of willing the Good for others when it will likely lighten your wallet, cost you a gallon of gas, or force you to spend several minutes of your life doing something charitable. Again, let’s look at Jesus. Was his act of love for us free? Well, OK, free for us! That’s fine. But it cost Jesus his dignity and his life. Expensive, indeed.
3). Love requires us to focus too much on others: it would seem that the basic point of love is to fawn all over other people, wait on them hand and foot, and pretend to be all about their needs and their hurts. It’s all about them, them, them! What about me?! I have my needs and my hurts and my wants and me, me, me…Perfect example of this problem: Jesus tells his little band that if they want to be first they have to serve others! What is that? What kind of logic is that? To be first I have to be last, willing to sacrifice prestige, place, honor, and power in order to SERVE! Jesus does this for us—again—but look at his conclusion. Great for us. Not so great for him.
4). You have to lie when you love: not that lying is a problem when you have to do it, but loving is doubly difficult b/c to keep people liking you you have to tell them what they don’t want to hear. You can’t “love” if you make people uncomfortable or if you say unpleasant things to them. It would seem that charity requires us to lie in order to keep the peace. Being peaceful is more important than speaking the truth. Obviously! Didn’t Jesus say that he came to divide with a sword, to both cut the bonds of sin and to split apart families and friends? Is that what love does when it forces you to tell the truth? Who thinks that’s good? He spoke the truth and ended up dead. Not a good example of peacekeeping.
I’ve given you four good reasons why loving one another is a problem: love is messy and makes you do dumb things; it is expensive; it requires you to focus too much on others; and it makes you lie. All good reasons to forget about love. And this is why Jesus doesn’t just suggest that we love one another or hint at the possibility of loving one another. He commands us to love. Commands. Do it! Love is the greatest commandment b/c our relationship with God depends on it. We cannot understand what God is saying to us through the prophets if we fail to love. And we cannot know what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, and excellent if we will not love. What’s worse: we cannot know anything of Goodness, we cannot imitate God, we cannot become Christ if we will not love.
It’s command. Not an argument or a suggestion or a caption for a child’s poster. It is a command, an order. And if you will be more than you are, if you will be made perfect in the Father’s love, you will love—Him, us, yourself and you will rejoice in the Lord always b/c He loved you first…and loves you still.
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