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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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Love always demands the best from us, and brings out the best in us

Love always demands the best from us, and brings out the best in us

In 2010 some newspapers ran a story about “Curly” Veith, a rich man and a Christian, who died at aged 95. When his business was flourishing, Curly said, “I used to lie awake at night thinking of the hungry and homeless children all over the world. So I decided to give all my money away to help them!”

He has given away more than $23 million!

He has set up Mission Enterprise Limited to channel funds to worthy causes everywhere – American Indians in Colorado, street kids in Bangkok, water wells in East Africa, land for a school in Australia. In addition, with the courage of his convictions, he has contacted other rich business people and challenged them to give generously to needy people and projects.

Clearly this elderly man has taken to heart Jesus’ message to his followers the night before he died when he said: “I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

The love that imitates the love of Jesus for others is a practical, unconditional, down-to-earth kind of love. It involves a compassionate love that is self-forgetting and self-sacrificing so that others might be free – free to be good, kind, unselfish, generous and loving persons too.

Jesus showed us this type of love for people in so many wonderful ways – in kindness, compassion, generosity, patience, perseverance, endurance, faithfulness and forgiveness. There was no limit to what his love would give.

True love is the opposite of selfishness. Selfishness confines us, keeps us shut in. It builds barriers, even walls, between others and us. What frees us is caring about others and caring for others, being friends, being sisters and brothers, being good neighbors. In short, it’s love alone that frees us from the bondage of selfishness.

It is our love for others that keeps the great love of Jesus for people alive in our world today.

An American journalist, watching Mother Teresa caring for a man with gangrene, remarked to her, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.”

Mother Teresa replied, “Neither would I do it for that amount, but I do it for love of God.”

That should be our motivation.

Let’s face it. Loving our neighbor can be difficult and demanding. In the face of Islamic terrorism, or in time of war, we are strongly tempted to dehumanize the enemy and regard them as not part of the human family, and unworthy of our love and respect. Still, Jesus’ commandment to love, and his own example of forgiving those who crucified him, constantly call us to reconsider things and seek reconciliation rather than total victory.

It is only when we work with God’s grace that we can truly love others unconditionally. It is only by living every day close to Jesus that we can love as Jesus loved. If we do not, we will be relying only on our human efforts alone, and we will love with another type of love but not the unconditional love Jesus asked for when he said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”

Love always demands the best from us, and brings out the best in us. Being loved gives us a surprising energy and courage. Love makes us fruitful, productive, strong and constant in doing good. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, famous for her work on the stages of dying, has written, “Love is the flame that warms our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It’s our connection to God and to one another.”

Freedom from selfishness and freedom to love and care for others, that’s what life is all about! That’s the only way. So Jesus strongly insists, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”