A Reasonable Return

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A Reasonable Return
Illustration by Frank Kacmarcik, OblSB, Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. Used with permission.

“Love one another.” Three simple words, yet how difficult they are to live. “Love one another as I love you.” Perhaps even more difficult. Jesus calls upon us to do what for many seems simply impossible. How do I love others who are so different from me? I cannot even love all the members of my family. I cannot love my cousins, aunts, those with whom I come into contact every single day. They don’t think like me; they don’t act like me; they don’t look like me. How am I supposed to love them? 

Loving others forces us to confront the messiness of our lives, to look deep within ourselves in order to learn what it is that stops us from loving another person. Sometimes the reasons seem reasonable: he is a thief, she is a liar, they argue all the time, with everyone! But is that really the reason? Jesus says: love others as I have loved you. He loves us all, including the man who betrayed him, Judas. How do we follow his example? How do we reach out to the least among us, to those who are different from us, to those we dislike or fear? 

We do so by imitating Jesus, by trying our best to overcome our human foibles and reaching out with hands and hearts—weary and angry, tired and afraid, but hopeful, hopeful that our love will be returned as Jesus returned our love for him. 

God is love. Three simple words that contain so much of the brokenness of our lives. Love one another, for God loves us. 

Diana L. Hayes

Diana L. Hayes is professor emerita of systematic theology at Georgetown University and the author of numerous books.