John 15:12 “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
Easy enough to say and hear; yet probably the most difficult to do. To love one another is an action. Not just AN action is in ONE action but INFINITE CONTINUOUS actions. Just as it is a difficult commandment to live out in our lives, it is a difficult commandment to discuss. I say this because we personally have our own ideas of loving one another, our friends and family have their own ideas of what it means to love one another, society has another idea of what it means, and even the media has formed their own idea of what it means to love one another. Additionally, there are many aspects and roads one can take to talk about loving one another. You can discuss HOW to love one another. WHY you should love one another. WHAT is loving one another. WHO is that ‘one another’ we should love.
Even with these examples, it is difficult to focus on a single aspect of loving one another and then assume you’ve explained perfectly that verse. Love is a subject with infinite room for discussion. In fact, I truly believe you can write an encyclopedia collection full of only loving one another. Furthermore, that encyclopedia collection…that only takes into account YOUR opinion, YOUR experiences, and YOUR knowledge. It does not take into account opinions, experiences, or knowledge of everybody else. As for me, I feel called to write about John 15:12 on exactly how difficult I perceive it to live as well as ways we’re supposed to love on another.
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” It’s easy to put into action this commandment when it concerns family and close friends. Correction, I should say it’s “easier” to live this commandment because there are times we fail to exhibit love to family and friends. Nevertheless, when compared to strangers, loving family and friends as God loves us is easier to perform. Think about it. You are confronted by a close friend or family who asks for a couple bucks. Now you are confronted by a complete stranger off the street who asks for a couple bucks. Which of the two are you more willing to show love by donating a couple bucks? How about this one. You are walking on the street and you see a good friend walking towards you. How do you react? 9 times out of 10 you would smile a huge smile, say good morning, wave, and probably even ask how they’re doing. Now you are walking on the street and see a complete stranger, who some perceive as homeless, walking towards you. How do you react? 9 times out of 10 most of you would put your head down as if you were looking at something important on your phone, as if you didn’t see that stranger. Eye opening right, when you truly think about it? Acts of love you perform without hesitation to family and friends, well, you tend to hesitate, question yourself, and not do when faced with a stranger.
I’ll be the first to admit I have done just that. Not once but on multiple occasions. Why is that? Why are we more willing to love one another as God loved us when it pertains to family and friends, but we hesitate to love strangers like God loves us? Why? Well, there is no definitive answer. The answer to that question differs with each one of us. That question has infinite answers. I can however provide what I believe to be two aspects of what love is. Specifically, love that God loves us with.
Now, practicing Catholics, when asked how God loved us will provide what I perceive as the top two answers: He forgives, and He sent his son to die for us (sacrifice). I base these top two responses off personal experience through asking of friends and families. They are just observations I have witnessed and heard throughout the years. Nevertheless, typical responses include forgiving and sacrificing. Referring to John 15:12, we are to love one another as God loves us. So we are supposed to love others through acts of forgiveness and sacrifice (not sacrificing another human because nowadays that’s pretty much frowned upon and illegal but sacrifice of other things like time, money, etc.). However, there is so much more to love that God displayed on us than just forgiveness and sacrifice.
Through His son Jesus, love was learned to be more than forgiveness and sacrifice. Those are great ways to show love, however there are other aspects which are just as important as those two. Characteristics of love were not only talked about but were displayed by Jesus through His actions. There are numerous accounts of the various characteristics of love God showed us through the teachings of Jesus. Teaching through action provides us with imagery to fall back on instead of memorizing a few lines here and there. So what exactly are other characteristics of love which God loves us with? The list is endless.
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” Love is many characteristics. I am pointing out a few I believe are most difficult to put into action with one another, especially strangers. Love is PATIENT. Love is KIND. Love is UNDERSTANDING. These three characteristics alone are too much to dive into and examine for this one post. Therefore, I present a series of questions. Ask yourself, how PATIENT are you to friends? To family? To strangers? How do you define (in words and actions) PATIENCE? Now ask yourself, how KIND are you to friends? To family? To strangers? How do you define (in words and actions) KINDNESS? Finally, ask yourself, how UNDERSTANDING are you with friends? With family? With strangers? How do you define (in words and actions) UNDERSTANDING?