Part 3: How Do You Love Others?

Prepared by Eleanor Lincoln, CSJ, and Catherine Litecky, CSJ
Women at the Well Ministry, St. Paul, Minnesota ©2004

Have you hugged anyone today?

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.

John 15:12-13

How loving have your relationships been today? Did you show love to your family this morning as you began the day? Did you greet your friends, neighbors and fellow workers graciously? Will the sun go down with your love intact for all the people in your life?

In the gospels Jesus shows his love for others. He refers to God’s commandments as the source of all human relationships: “Now a young man approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus answered “There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:16-19).

And, of course, the greatest commandment is LOVE: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27-28).

The goal of the good life is to become more other-centered, to love others as ourselves. Good relationships are signs of God’s love. The Ten Commandments guide our relationships with God and with others. The first three recognize our relationship to God and the final seven tell us that God cares about the way we treat each other.

Think of “you shall not kill” as telling you how to treat others with respect for their human dignity. “You shall not commit adultery” and “Honor your father and mother” are at the heart of all human relationships. The other seven commandments also show how God cares about the way human beings treat each other.

In your family have you learned to live Jesus’ teaching to love your neighbor as yourself? How can you keep loving relationships with the people in your life? Do you show your love in the simple acts of daily living such as doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, dealing with money problems? How do you express your love in dealing with problems occurring between generations?

Your family is surely very important to you. How about your friends? The great American writer, Henry David Thoreau, once wrote: “Friends give each other hope. They are kind to each other’s dreams.” To how many people do you give hope? How kind are you to their dreams?

These are some questions you might ask yourself today:

Where do I find God and God’s love in the place where I am at the present moment?

How do I affirm each member of my family and community?

How can I love deeply without possessiveness?

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (13:4-8) is often the reading of choice at wedding ceremonies. Perhaps you can think of it also as the reading of your choice for daily living. You are no doubt very familiar with this passage:

Love is patient, love is kind.
Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish.
Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger, neither does it brood over injuries.
Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth.
There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, power to endure.
Love never fails.

A good way to make an examination of conscience today is to substitute “I” for “love” to see what the verses tell you about yourself. For example: “I am patient, I am kind.” Or “I am not rude, I am not self-seeking, I am not prone to anger, neither do I brood over injuries.”

When you say, “God is love,” to what extent can you also say, “I am love,” knowing, of course, that no human person achieves the fullness of love? Nothing is impossible because God loves you! And you can only love because God first loves you. A saint, Julian of Norwich, reminded herself constantly: “God loves and delights in me.” Do you do this? And do you in turn love and delight in God?

So let this day be a day of love and loving! A day of delighting in. Love is an attitude in the heart–and in the mind. To love does not take any time at all!

You will find it helpful to practice loving more deeply one day at a time. Decide the priorities of your love. God? Family members? Friends? Neighbors? Those who are suffering? Those in greatest need? How far does your love reach? The more love you give the more you will receive.

One poet, Miriam Therese Winter, writes of the circle of love:

The life we live extends through a widening circle of friends,
’til all are caught and held in a circle of love.

Everyone knows a circle grows, all around the globe it goes,
’til all are caught and held in a circle of love.

Woman Prayer, Woman Song, Crossroad, 1987, p. 246

Tonight after your day quiets down, let your mind and heart reflect on these words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning
Love has to be put into action and that action is service.
A mission of love can come only from union with God.
From that union, love for the family,
love for one’s neighbor,
love for the poor
is the natural fruit.