To Love as God Loves

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May 6, 2018 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

May 6, 2018
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Gospel: John 15:9-17
Fr. George Smiga

Jesus gives us a commandment in today’s gospel. It is simple and concise. We are to love one another as Jesus has loved us. We are to love as God loves. Now this, of course, is a huge responsibility, and it begins by understanding how God loves. How does our God love the world?

Today’s first reading from the Book of Acts can help us. The passage presents a very important turning point in the life of the early church. Peter knew that he was to proclaim the gospel to all people. But his understanding of what would be required of people once they believed was too narrow. You see Peter, like all the apostles, was Jewish. He knew that God had chosen the Jewish people to be his own. Therefore, Peter simply presumed that when people began to believe in Christ, they would join the Jewish people and accept the Mosaic regulations and Jewish food laws. But what Peter learns in today’s gospel is that God intends to welcome non-Jews, Gentiles like Cornelius, without having them first become Jewish. Peter comes to understand that God’s love is wider than he had imagined. As he says in the reading, “I see now that God shows no partiality.” God loves the Jewish people, but God also loves the non-Jewish people. God is willing to accept people from every nation as long as they live their lives rightly.

This reading from the Book of Acts tells us that to love as God loves we need to widen our love. God shows no partiality, but we do. We tend to place borders on our love, to limit and constrain our love. We know that we are to love family and friends, and indeed this is our first responsibility. But then we conclude that whoever is outside that group is not our concern. Jesus’ commandment asks us to extend our love beyond the circle of family and friends because God loves there as well. We are comfortable loving people like us, people who share our culture, our race, our politics. But the gospel asks us to expand our love beyond those with whom we are comfortable, because our God shows no partiality. We are all proud of our country. We think that America is great. But then we can conclude that those outside our borders must fend for themselves. Jesus’ commandment asks us to enlarge our love, to become concerned how American economic and military policy affects other nations, to advocate for a just and generous immigration policy so that the good things that God has given to us in this country can be shared with other people God loves.

Jesus’ commandment is to love one another as he has loved us. That means that our love cannot be narrow, partisan, or stingy. Of course, it is difficult to stretch our love so that it begins to approximate the way that God loves. And many people would object to a love that is so wide. But when we love in this way, we will be following Jesus’ commandment, and we will show others that indeed we are his disciples.

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