Because at one time I really had no clue what it means to love someone, I often feel the need to emphansize it here. That’s not to say that everyone out there is as dense as I am, just that the world really intrudes on our minds and hearts.
We love candy.
We love Maria Sharapova.
We love our country.
We love pizza.
And so on. There are any number of ways to express these things. At least, if we use the word ‘love’ when we shouldn’t, we should qualify it. Because in each of these examples above, it’s shorthand. And in this fast paced world, we all use it. I’ve even come to realize that what characters in television advertising say races by, and you might not even realize what they’re saying. For example, in a Geico commercial, the gecko is walking on the beach and comes across a sign that says “Clothing Optional”. He says that the sign is very convenient, because he walks around naked. Then he comes upon a crab and says something. It took me two weeks (including lots of times when we buzzed right through the commercial on the DVR) to realize he called him “Crabcakes”. Then there’s the Verizon commericals…but I digress…
Life passes by very quickly. So we use shorthand to cram more into our day. My granddaughter loves Robert Downey Junior. But not really. She likes how he acts in his latest movie. I love to have pizza for lunch. I love how I feel after eating Toblerone…I love to watch sports because there’s nothing else interesting on television.
We know that the Greeks had many words to express love, and that’s really what we’re struggling with. There’s eros, agape, storge and phieo.
When Jesus spoke of love, he was speaking of agape, and that, because of the seventies, has come to embrace sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya. But when we examine what Jesus did to show us his love, his agape…you only need to look at the crucifix. Jesus suffered and died for love of humanity.
So when you get tired of doing everything for your children, or your husband, or when you don’t feel like going to Church, or when someone cuts you off in traffic or whatever injustices the world throws at you…remember the symbol of your Christianity that most of us still wear around our necks, closest to our hearts. The crucifix. Jesus died for you.
The other day, coming out of Mass, one parishioner was waiting for me. I was one of the last people to leave the church, but she waited for me to give me a message. She wanted to tell me that it was President Obama’s birthday, just to see what my reaction might be. Of course she knows that my politics are conservative. I said she should send him a text for me, wishing him a happy birthday. I guess she thought I wished him dead. What I really wanted to say, but restrained myself, was “I wonder how often you ever prayed for Osama bin Laden in the last 10 years…” See, God wants us to even love our enemies. You don’t have to like the person. But you do have to forgive him, and you do have to pray for him.
I encourage you to pray for people you don’t like very much, people who you haven’t forgiven, those it’s inconvenient for you to love right now. And ask God for the gift of loving those people. Remember “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”