St. Paul reminds us that we must become imitators of Christ; to live in the joy of the Holy Spirit and be models for all believers. He congratulates the Thessalonians today on the fact that they demonstrate being “imitators” of the Lord; for living in the joy of the Holy Spirit and on being “afflicted” by the Word (in other words, being bothered by their consciences for un-Christian behavior). You must ask yourself if you are you an imitator of Christ…
The Gospel this weekend has Jesus quoting the “Love Law.” “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” He goes on: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Everything in the commandments boils down to these two clear instructions and Jesus gives us a plain, lucid, and exact mandate for all our choices—for all we say and do. Today’s Gospel is about the greatest law: the one that demands love for God and love for all, and we are to do this with all our heart, our soul, our mind—our entire being. We are to love others—and yet sometimes they make it so difficult…
We should try and remember that we have more control over how we act toward others than how we feel about them, though, and by changing how we behave we have a much better chance of changing how we feel. While God might want us all to have warm, fuzzy feelings toward one another, He is more concerned with our behavior toward one another. Even the command to “love one another,” is not primarily a command to feel good about others, it is a command addressing how we behave toward others.
If we walk around with hatred in our hearts all, morally we’re just as much killers as the one who pulls the trigger. We can’t live that way and not be destroyed from within—you know the old saying that holding hate for someone is like getting revenge by drinking poison… If hate, anger, etc. is what we think and feel often for others, then we will be a death energy instead of life force in the world. (This past Thursday the Church celebrated the Memorial for St. John Paul II, Pope—remember his famous culture of death encyclical?) We cannot afford even inner disconnection from love because how we live in our minds and hearts is really our real and deepest truth.
How may we then, as baptized disciples of Christ, begin to follow this difficult love law? There is no better way to show God’s love than to work in service of the Body of Christ right here and now. Demonstrating love is actual faith in action in the world. We must work to show love—even when we don’t feel it. The verse for the Gospel Acclamation today (the Alleluia) begins with: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord.” This is our responsibility, our directive, our instruction, our obligation as Disciples of Christ—to keep the law of love.
When we are tempted by all of our vice, sins and failings, tempted by the easy path, tempted to be first instead of last, tempted to speak or act in hate or anger—remember this: “Fake it ‘til you make it.” What do I mean by that? Act as if in love, speak as if in love, live as if in love, choose as if in love—live in love, mercy, kindness and forgiveness even when it is a challenge to do so—and maybe God’s grace will grant you His true love in your hearts and minds and souls. Pray to always be imitators of Christ—even when you are not feeling it…
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Some of the most beautiful Scripture about love in the Bible comes from The Song of Songs—the Song of Solomon. Here is a musical setting of “Set Me As a Seal” by Rene Clauson.
Set Me As a Seal: https://youtu.be/PHcGPbUjUJ0
This hymn text reminds us that love is a covenant, a promise—especially in the last line of text. Sing along!
O God, Who Gives Us Life: https://youtu.be/zOvQtLQl-CI