even your enemies

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” [Jn 13:34]. Jesus tells us to love one another as he loves us, but this is seldom as easy to do as it is to say. I recently saw this firsthand and the experience is worth the telling.

Last week I traveled to the Midwest to visit family and attend the wedding of my youngest sister’s daughter. It was the first time in many years that all of my siblings were together, along with their spouses, most of their children, and their spouses and children. We had a wonderful time catching up and visiting with one another. I am the oldest of eleven and twenty-two years separates the youngest from me. Two brothers also celebrated birthdays on the day of the wedding, with my youngest brother turning 50. What struck me was the joy and love that we shared with one another. Even though miles and years keep us apart, we still enjoy one another’s company and sincerely love each other.

As we spent the weekend together we spoke about how strange it was to be as close as we are. Make no mistake; we are not of one mind with many things. We span the spectrum of ideologies and beliefs; we almost always have very lively discussions and disagreements. But in the end, we agree to disagree and move on; we never cease to love.

Jesus tells us to love one another but all too often we seem intent on killing and hurting each other. Recent events such as the Sandy Hook shootings and the Boston Marathon bombings exemplify the fact that evil and hatred exist, often fed by our own bigotry and hatred for the perpetrators. We react by hating those who hate us; feeding an insatiable need for revenge and justice. “But” Jesus says “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” [Mt 5:44].

Jesus is hard to follow; his way is never easy. He neither dissembles nor equivocates. Neither do we have the option to choose what commandments we wish to follow. Following Jesus al a carte is not acceptable or allowed. Jesus doesn’t ask us to love only those who love us, to love only our friends and family. He says to love one another, to love our enemies as well as our friends. And yes – that is often very hard to do. But if we are true disciples of Jesus we must reach beyond our biases and feelings and find a way to love one another.

Dorothy Day once said “You only love God as much as you love the person you love the least.” God is Love and Love is God. Think about it.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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