1 John 4:11-18
"God has loved us and sent is Son as an expiation for our sins. If God has so loved us, we must have the same love for one another. (I Jn 4:11) We see that love in our flesh in the crib and on the cross. That is the measure of God’s love for each one of us. We are caught up in a Divine Mystery – even in the Infinite Love that God is! Shepherds and Wise Men were called to know that Love, that Mystery – and so are we!
When we come to know the reason for our creation and view the cost of our redemption, it is not only a moment for song and exaltation. The Beloved Disciple draws the consequence. God’s love is poured out for us as individual persons precisely that we may surrender to that love, live it and share it with one another.
John is simply echoing the words he heard Jesus utter in his heart to heart message at the Last Supper – "As I have loved you so you also should love one another."
We are to see ourselves as beloved of God and in that knowledge overcome our selfishness, our quick negative judgments.
We are beloved of God and every neighbor is so loved. If he is clearly sinfully evil, the forgiving love of God is pursuing him. At least our prayers must be for his good, his salvation. Chicago is apparently the murder-capital of the country. But in the midst of this rampant evil, there have been people alive with the life of Christ and capable of a word of forgiveness and a prayer for those who have wounded them so deeply.
Most of us are not called to this absolute and heroic living of love, we can be caught up our petty antagonisms where another’s voice or mannerism irritates and we close that person out of our consideration, he or she just doesn’t exist for us. Love that person? You must be kidding! No,
The Lord was not kidding, he did not love us in jest in the chill of the manger, and the rough rasping of the cross. Neither was he kidding when he demanded we copy his love.
Feelings of aggression and opposition come upon us unbidden, but we do not need to yield to them and feed them. We can turn to the Lord Jesus and ask. You loved me and died for me – you have done the same for this person who incites my rejection – but you love us both, help me.
Share your love with me." That is one way of allowing the love God flow through us, one of the ways we can show ourselves as members of Christ. It is the challenge of Bethlehem and Calvary.
Fr. Fred Sucher, C.P. is retired and lives in the Passionist community in Chicago. For many years he taught philosophy to Passionist seminarians.