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Article by Colleen Steele

Posted on May 24, 2017


May 19, 2017
Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Gospel: John 15: 12-17
Sharer: Therese Zapanta-Verzosa

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Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

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I have to admit that I find it hard to love difficult people. It is not my favorite thing to show love to people whom I don’t like. It’s easy to love people who are nice to me. Not only does it feel good but it feels natural too.

But to love people who are condescending, people who think highly of themselves, people who are selfish and self-centered, people who love to put down other people, arrogant people, people who cheat on you and treat you unfairly, boy, it’s tough to love these people.

I grew up loving people who love me and disliking people who dislike me. It’s tit for tat. It’s mutual. Love for love and hate for hate. It’s easy. It’s the norm. It’s what people do.

But lately, I discovered that this is not true after all. It’s not what Jesus does. It’s not what he prefers. Listen to the gospel one more time: “Love one another as I have loved you.” He did not go on to say, “But only love those who love you and are easy to love.” He did not command, “And for those whom you don’t like, it’s okay not to like them too.”

The human selfish part of me wishes He said that. That I wish He gave us the allowance and the excuse to hate other people. But he did not. He commanded us to love one another just as He loved us.

If I were to look at myself in the mirror, if I were to contemplate and really think hard about my performance as a Christian, I doubt if I am one of those that tops His list. My imperfections, my sins, my flaws, my goodness, they are abounding. But so is His grace!

I may not be the topnotcher in the class as far as kindness but Jesus loves me the same way He loves the kindest man He knows. I may not be consistent in my faith but Jesus loves me the same way He loves my fellow man who is consistent in his. I may not always be nice to others but Jesus loves me the same way He loves the person who is always nice to others.

Then, who am I to hate people just because I don’t like them?

Who am I to judge people just because they are not my most favorite people to love?

If Jesus loves me for who I am despite my imperfections, then I must do the same towards others. Without ifs or buts. Without a checklist. Without discrimination.

Join me as we learn to love other people who are difficult to love. It is in doing so that we accumulate more grace in our lives. The more we dig deeper in this commandment, the better we become followers of Christ.

For if you love those you already love, what change is there? But if we love those we don’t, a greater reward in heaven awaits.