May 10. 2015


This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. – John 15: 12

   This is a taller order than it might seem at first:

A loving wife was trying to do little things to perk up her husband’s sagging spirits. Toward this end she decided to replace his stuffy, conservative wardrobe with more colorful & youthful-looking clothes. “It might be good for his self-image,” she thought. She ventured into the men’s clothing section of a department store & said to the saleswoman, “I’m looking for something wild & exciting in slacks.” To which the saleslady replied, “Aren’t we all, my dear, aren’t we all?”

   Whether we perceive it as wild & exciting or peaceful & serene, we’re all looking for something that will make our life better. This yearning is no aberration, but part of our human nature. The problem is that when our dreams come true, whether it’s a new house, a new car, a better job, winning a race, or even something wild & exciting in slacks, the realization of it never quite lives up to the expectation. We seem to be constantly building ourselves up for a big letdown.

   The Good News of the Gospel is that we can be raised up to a new level of living that will never let us down. Whether we realize it or not, that which underlies all our hopes & dreams for happiness is the desire to find God, to be at one with God, to be in love with God.

   Jesus links the experience of a loving relationship with God (our true heart’s desire) with the experience of a loving relationship with one another. This reality is beautifully & forcefully expressed in the first letter of John:

“Beloved, If God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, & His love is brought to perfection in us” (1 John 4: 11-12). In other words, failure to love one another is simply not an option if we are serious about God.

   A wealthy man died, apparently without leaving a will. So according to law, the estate was divided among several surviving cousins who were the next of kin. Also as prescribed by law, the deceased’s household goods & other items of personal property were converted into cash in a public auction. During the sale, the auctioneer held up a framed photograph, but no one bid on it. Later, a woman approached the auctioneer & asked him if she might purchase the picture for one dollar, which was all she had. She said the photo was a likeness of the deceased man’s son. She went on to relate that she had been a servant in the deceased’s household when the boy lost his life trying to rescue a drowning person, & that she had loved him very much. The auctioneer accepted the dollar, & the woman went home & placed it on a table beside her bed. It was then she noticed a bulge in the back of the frame. She undid the backing & there, to her amazement, was the rich man’s will. The instructions were simple: “I give & bequeath all my possessions to the person who cares enough for my son to cherish this photograph.”

   God bequeaths everything He has when we cherish His Son, not just in flights of piety, but also how we respect Him in others. As Mother Teresa liked to say about the poorest of the poor, “In them I see Jesus in distressing disguise.”

   A young woman lived in a home where she was very unhappy. She often complained to her friends about how difficult & trying it was for her to stay there. She blamed her parents & other family members for her discontent, & she threatened to move out as soon as she could afford to be on her own. But one day her face was graced with a happy smile. Gone was her usual glum expression, her eyes sparkled, & there was a spring in her step. A friend noted the difference at once & exclaimed, Things must have improved at home. I’m so glad! Your family must be treating you differently!” “No,” she said, “I’m the one who’s different!” If God’s love hasn’t made us different, something is wrong somewhere.  AMEN!