by Jeff Reedy, National Program Assistant, Sidewalk Advocates for Life
Verse(s): “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. …Love never fails. …And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
– 1 Cor 13: 4-8a; 13
Reflection: Paul tells us something very important through this discourse about love, and something we need to heed in the midst of today’s crises.
Yes, there are lots of things to alarm us in the world around us: Sex abuse scandals in Hollywood or the Church …or your local abortion facility that has taken the lives of countless innocent children. As yet another example, they recently discovered a compound in New Mexico where ISIS was teaching children how to do mass shootings. (Crazy that didn’t make the news!) And YES, there should be moral outrage about these things, no doubt.
But we also have to remember the number one commandment and what Paul tells us. No matter how outraged we might become, if we don’t exhibit love — even towards those who have done these incredibly harmful things — we become nothing. No matter how horrible some action is that some person in authority has committed, we have to remember love.
Does love mean giving them a get out of jail free card? No, of course not. Sometimes love means locking them away for life to keep them from hurting other people and from destroying themselves. But let’s not give in to the desire to cry out for their blood — to want them to be tortured and killed. Let’s pray for their souls and hope and pray that they find God and turn from their lives of foolishness and pain.
That’s what love demands. And John DOES tell us that God is love. God demands that we love our enemies, pray for them, and care for them.
It’s not easy when you think of the horrible things they’ve done. It gets a lot easier, though, when we think of the horrible things WE’VE done — and how we’ve also been infinitely offensive to an infinitely good, holy, and loving God. It’s also a reminder that unless we are ready to forgive others for their offenses when they are truly sorry, we won’t get off so easy (cf. Matthew 18:21-35).
Once we have humbled ourselves to see what God has done for us, we can start to grasp the beauty and power of forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
Faith Challenge: Let us pray for all those who have been wounded by others’ sins. Then, let’s us pray for a conversion of heart for all sinners in need of the redemptive love of Jesus Christ.