“Love one another as I have loved you.”
Wow. These words that the Lord spoke in the Gospel of John can be so convicting and hard to hear at times. Jesus is asking us to love one another as He has loved us. Think about that for a moment. Jesus loved us so much that He endured suffering after suffering for our sake. Jesus died on the cross out of love for us. That is the kind of love He is asking us to have for one another. This love that we are being called to have is a self-giving love and not a self-serving love.
First, we must explore the differences between self-serving and self-giving love before we can fully understand this calling we all have. Self-serving love looks only to love in moments where the person’s own interests and goals are being fulfilled. Someone who loves in this way may seem genuine, but neither sacrifices or sets aside their own interests for another person. Self-giving love contrasts this kind of love by not taking any thought of itself and does not pursue its own interest. The love that Jesus has for us is self-giving and it is a love we are all called to have. He asks us to lay down our lives for others just as He laid His life down for us. We are called to love until it hurts. Yes, it is definitely easy for us to love our family and those close to our hearts, but this love is even more important and crucial in our relationships with our enemies and strangers. We fully enter into the mystery of Christ’s love when we learn to love even in the situations that hurt the most.
In St. John Paul the Great’s teachings of Theology of the Body, he reflects on this idea of self-giving love between spouses. “The man's words (cf. Sg 7:1-8) do not only contain a poetic description of his beloved, of her feminine beauty on which his senses dwell, but they speak of the gift and the self-giving of the person.” (JPII) Here he uses Song of Songs to reflect upon the love that spouses have for each other. This love is a gift of the entire person to their spouse so that they may become one. He states that the gift of husband to wife and wife to husband puts a seal on their entire life. When a man and woman become one in marriage they are literally sealing up their lives with their love for each other.
So whether we are called to marriage, a religious vocation, or singlehood, we are called to live a life that is based on self-giving love. This love will not be easy! The Lord does not call us to a life of comfort, though; He calls us to live a life that will one day bring us to heaven. Take heart children of God, the Lord is calling us to a life of difficulty, but in these moments of suffering and stretching of our hearts, we can fully enter into the mystery and joys of the resurrection.
Reflect: Who are you being called to love this moment? How can you change your life to live in a more self-giving manner?
Act: Spend tonight doing an examination of conscious and see those moments in your day where you could have acted with more love.