You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, & with all your mind.
This is the greatest & the 1st commandment. The 2nd is like it:
You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments
The question is, how do I love? I do not know how to love, Lord. I thought I did, but I gave up. I recently came to a point that I decided I had best be alone. I have come to prefer solitude over company – so that I may never have to let anyone down; never have to offend anyone; quietly learn to co exist peacefully with others and offer up prayers for them– without going the extra mile to mingle. I have grown tired of my human condition, and also of the many unloving things people do unwittingly. I do not blame them for being unloving. But I do see that we live in a world that knows no love. True Unselfish Love.
I do not know how to love– yet I know what is unloving. Funny huh?!
St.Paul writes a Hymn of love. Perfect Love of God:
LOVE is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous. LOVE is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude. It does not seek its own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH. LOVE bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. LOVE never fails.
REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH.
This truth, what is it? Truth. The truth — I suppose, is LOVE itself. Because St.Paul explains if we have everything (all knowledge, eloquence, ability etc) but no love, we are nothing (1Corinthians13:1-3)
Then I look back at what I wrote above -about my preference for solitude. I admit – that is self-seeking. I am protecting my own interests. From what? From disappointment. But as God’s definition of Christian love shows — LOVE BELIEVES ALL THINGS.
I used to live in a bubble. I still do. I feel that people SHOULD be kind. People SHOULD believe in second chances. That people SHOULD NOT gossip/backstab. That if there is any unhappiness, one SHOULD approach the other and gently clear the air — so that the person concerned CAN grow into a better individual. Or if there is no way we can feedback to the person involved– then at least avoid speaking bad of the person. I had always felt this way. . . Until I saw people whom I trusted do the most unloving things I thought true friends wouldn’t do. I couldn’t bring myself to love them. I felt disgust within me. And then I felt disgusted at myself for feeling this way toward them.
LOVE DOES NOT BROOD IN INJURY, IT DOES NOT REJOICE OVER WRONGDOING. .. . BUT REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH.
I failed to see the truth — the truth is — we are all flawed. My perfect little thought bubble of human relationships. The people I allowed into my little bubble of idealism. They are MY NEIGHBOUR.
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF.
How would I like myself to be loved?
I would like to be given second chances. I would like to be remembered for the joy and goodness I bring to this world. I would like to be given space when I tire (but that is me alone, how do I know how others would like to be treated?). I would like to be understood for my good intentions — and not be misinterpreted and misconstrued by others. And so… this is how I should love my neighbour, isn’t it? The least I can do is give my heart to understanding them – and if I cannot understand them, then at least — BELIEVE in goodness. Believe in the goodness that they are capable of. Because — that is truly how I want to be loved.
Because I feel sad by the unloving experiences I have received (and given out to others, sadly)– I wish not to face this sadness anymore. Thus my preference for solitude. Because, when you are alone with Christ – Jesus who is pure love, never disappoints. I love the gentle peace, the quiet embrace, and the silence. The silence through which my soul sings in gratitude for making it through each day.
Then, in the silence, I also receive this message: Love me. Love my people.
God is a God of relationship. He is not a lonely God.
And so, I am called to respond.
Love. But how?
“Have I tried? Have I really tried to love this way? By doing, by trying, this is the only way to learn to love. Day by Day- to practise – to try, to fail – but it’s okay. It is a progress & needs preparation. It is worthwhile in the end. It is to enrich. Start over. Again & Again. We are on a journey. WE ARE NOT THERE YET. “
[heard during Advent Recollection (with Verbum Dei missionaries]
Frances, fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. For I am your God. I will strengthen you, & help you, & uphold you with my right hand of justice. Fear not. I will help you. (Isaiah 41:10,13)
Have courage to step forward. Start with a step. One step to Love. To stumble.. to fall… And then, to Love. Again and Again.
Because Love hopes all things… and.. Love never ends.
This is how. This is what Love is really about. Are you ready, Frances?