By Fr. Peter
The problems of the world can be seen as a failure to love sufficiently. Warfare is a failure to love. The section of Boston known as Mass-Cass, where hundreds of homeless people are concentrated, is a failure to love. Environmental degradation and human-caused climate change is a failure to love. The failure to heed the command Jesus gave to his disciples to love God and one’s neighbor as his or herself results in the rejection and inhumane treatment of human beings by other human beings.
Pope Saint John Paul II wrote the following words over twenty years ago. They sound just like the sort of thing Pope Francis would say today:
“Love led Christ to the gift of self, even to the supreme sacrifice of the Cross. So too, among his disciples, there can be no true unity without that unconditional mutual love which demands a readiness to serve others generously, a willingness to welcome them as they are, without ‘judging’ them (cf. Mt 7:1-2), and an ability to forgive up to ‘seventy times seven’ (Mt 18:22).” [Vita Consecrata, March 25, 1996]
The disciples of Jesus Christ are often divided today over things that ought not really be a matter of controversy. Jesus, in John 13:34-35, stated: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
What is the alternative to this radical love for everyone that Jesus calls us to? We heard a description of it in the first reading: The alternative to opening our hearts in love towards all is to become “hard of face and obstinate of heart”; becoming like the people who rejected the wisdom of Jesus at Nazareth.
Jesus calls his disciples to a high standard, and his teaching is no less challenging today than it was nearly 2,000 years ago. He gives us the command as well as the duty to love one another as we have been loved by God. And since God has loved us first, we can and should love God in return, love ourselves, and love one another. Let us not take offense at him.