In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus gives us a new commandment. He says, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
But what does it look like to love others as Christ loves us? Fr. Tim Graff stopped by Morning Air® recently to discuss love, and how we can show the love of Christ to others, even when loving is difficult.
Fr. Tim started off by explaining that in order to love we should first understand where it comes from. He said, “First of all is to realize that my ability to love, my gift to love, is exactly that. It’s a grace given to me by God. You know it’s not something that I really own, that I really can choose on my own. But rather, it’s God’s gift to me. As God has loved me, as God has laid down His life for me, that’s exactly what I’m called to do.”
In understanding that our love is a gift from God, we recognize that we are called to love as God loves us. Just as God loves us for who we are, so we are called to do the same. “As I think about the Lord’s love for me, thankfully it’s not based on what I deserve,” said Fr. Tim. “No, thankfully it’s not like God’s going to love me today because I’ve been really good. But rather, His love for me is just unconditional. His love for me is just because I’m His son. I think that is the source of our love for others.”
There are likely people in your life it is hard to be charitable toward. Maybe they have hurt you, maybe you disagree with them, or maybe you just find them annoying. But, as Fr. Tim pointed out, our love is not based on how someone makes us feel, but by how we choose to respond to them
“It’s not simply based on my emotions or my feelings,” he said. “Because God has made a difference in my heart. God has made a difference in my life. Which means that as much as I love my emotions, and they’re a wonderful expression for me, I’m not controlled by them. It’s just a matter of deciding to do the right thing, deciding to love and look at love less like a feeling and more like a verb. I think that’s part of it. Part of it is just that decision of the will.”
But what about the times when you just don’t have the will to love? Should you admit defeat and feel like a failure of a Christian? No. St. John of the Cross told us to put love where there is no love. So if there is no love in our hearts we should ask God, as the source of love, to put it there.
“There are times when I cannot make that decision of the will. I’m just too hurt or I’m too sad or whatever,” Fr. Tim said. “And it’s times like that, when the temptation is just to give up, when I simply am so hurt, so lost that I can’t do anything. And based on your own strength, that’s probably true. But it’s times like that when we open ourselves up to God’s grace. And a wonderful prayer can be, ‘Lord, so-and-so is driving me crazy, and I don’t know how to interact with them today. Just give me the grace to be at peace with that.”
Listen to the full conversation below: