That Challenging, Compassionate, Forgiving Committed Love. How do we get this Love?

Jesus told the scribes that the great commandment, which indeed includes everybody, is that of loving God with all our heart. To love God with all our heart is to love Him above everything that we hold dear, including friends, family, and self, holding nothing back, even life itself. To love God with all our mind is to meditate constantly on His Word, and employ all the talents and abilities that we possess for the purpose that He has laid out for us to propagate His love. To love God with all our strength is to acknowledge our own weakness, and then to use the strength of the Holy Spirit to propagate the Good News of Jesus. And to love our neighbor as ourself is to love him as Jesus has shown us in the Gospel.

Loving God with all our heart leads us to do everything else He has instructed us to do: particularly, loving our neighbor as ourselves! Is our neighbor more than the guy next door? Could he or she be someone in our community or almost anyone we meet? Could our enemies also be our neighbors? Jesus says that that is exactly what He meant. But how can we love someone who hates us? What kind of love do we as Christians have for each other? We have a tendency to run around being very harsh towards the people who offend our sense of Philos or earthly, friendship based love and affection. That’s how you know the Body of Christ is lacking in Agape love. Don’t speak to someone just so and you get a whole litany of rage and anger. Don’t say something in just the right tone and you’d think World War Three had broken out.
When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we grow to recognize that everyone is part of His creation. For us, that is where faith comes in. it is not for us to decide who is following Christ and who is not. We are called to be witnesses to Him and, in order to fulfill that calling, we must love others enough to want their salvation, just as much as Christ does. But, here’s some good news for those who find this teaching difficult: no where does it say that we actually have to like our neighbor!

Looking at the first reading, Hosea was married to an unfaithful spouse, Gomer. Yet instead of choosing to divorce her, he sought her out, for¬gave her, and in time, won her back. Hosea understood that the drama that was playing out in his personal life—that of a spurned husband wooing back a wayward wife—mirrored God’s relationship with fickle Israel: He would chastise his people and woo them back, ultimately forgiving all their sins. Hosea didn’t give up hope that his wife would return to him, or that the Lord would lead His people back to Himself.

“We love you, O our God; and we desire to love you more and more. Grant to us that we may love you as much as we desire, and as much as we ought. O dearest friend, who has so loved and saved us, the thought of whom is so sweet and always growing sweeter, come with Christ and dwell in our hearts; that you keep a watch over our lips, our steps, our deeds, and we shall not need to be anxious either for our souls or our bodies. Give us love, sweetest of all gifts, which knows no enemy. Give us in our hearts pure love, born of your love to us, that we may love others as you love us. O most loving Father of Jesus Christ, from whom flows all love, let our hearts, frozen in sin, cold to you and cold to others, be warmed by this divine fire. So help and bless us in your Son.” (Prayer of Anselm, 12th century)


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