Loving Others as God Loves Us

02-12-2023From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

To be truly wise is not to be the smartest person in the world. To be truly wise is to know we do not know or understand everything, but we do know where the source of wisdom is. In the second reading at Mass today (1 Corinthians 2:6-10) we have these words of St. Paul: “We speak a wisdom to those who are mature, not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for, if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” God’s wisdom is simple and profound at the same time. As we look to our parish mission, the first evening will open up our understanding of God’s love for each one of us. We all know and say God loves us but do we really understand what that means for ourselves and all people?

Currently I am reading “The Rabbi’s Heart” by Brendan Manning. The title comes from the words of John 13:21-26 where Jesus at the Last Supper said that one of them would betray Him. St. Peter told St. John who had his head on Jesus’ chest to ask who the betrayer was. The image is that St. John heard the heartbeat of Jesus. For days I have been “stuck” on pages 56-57. As I read these pages over and over again I come to see how God loves me as I am and how he expects me to love everyone else in the same way. I offer this quote from the book for your reflection and prayer.

How I treat my brothers and sisters from day to day, whether they be Caucasian, African, Asian, or Hispanic; how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street; how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike; how I deal with ordinary people in their ordinary unbelief on an ordinary day will speak the truth of who I am more poignantly that the pro-life sticker on the bumper of my car. The compassionate life is neither a sloppy goodwill toward the world nor the plague of what Robert Wicks calls “chronic niceness.” The way of tenderness avoids blind fanaticism. Instead, it seeks to see with penetrating clarity. The compassion of God in our hearts opens our eyes to the unique worth of each person. The other is “ourself” and we must love him/her in his/her sin as we were loved in our sin.” (Rainer Maria Rilke, “Letters to a Young Poet” p. 36.) 

This is the unceasing struggle of a lifetime. It is the long and painful process of becoming like Christ in the way I choose to think, speak, and live each day. “God’s love is not a conditional love; it is an open-hearted, generous self-giving which God offers to us. Those who would carefully limit the operation of God’s love….have missed the point.” (John Egan, “A Traveler Toward the Dawn” p. xii) 

Abba, help me to see people with your eyes. Remind me that I am forgiven much. Fill me to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit so that I can pour out love to others. Amen.

I personally invite you to continue these thoughts about God’s love for us as individuals and through us to each other at our upcoming parish mission that begins two weeks from today at 7:00 PM in our church. The mission days are Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, February 26th, 27th, and 28th at 7:00 PM each evening.