If you look up the definition of love, you will find that it is both an action and a verb. Love is something that you can feel when received and it is something that you give through words and deeds.
It is easy to love our family and close friends because we know them well. But what about the people we don't know or the people that challenge us and are difficult to love? We are called to love everyone whether we like it or not. Jesus commands in John 13:24, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Like a good teacher, before Jesus gives us the homework to love others, he teaches how to love through allowing us to experience it first.
My family has never really been an ‘I love you’ family. In fact, if I approached one of my siblings, looked them in the eye and said, “I love you” their response would be to think I have a terminal illness or I was in some sort of serious trouble. That does not mean we do not show love in other ways. We live through the motto, “tell someone you love them, without saying that you love them.” Love is delivered through small gestures such as babysitting the nieces and nephews, buying comfort snacks for someone after a long day, ironing tablecloths for one sister's wedding, or being intentional with quality time. With the lens of feeling love versus hearing love it is easy for me to relate to Jesus' command.
I like to believe His primary way of showcasing His love is through the people around us. He utilizes each of us to distribute His loving characteristics through the ways we interact with one another.
In January 2010, my mother was killed in a car accident on her way to daily mass. People from everywhere showed up and showered my family with love and support. As I write this and reflect back to that day, I am not gasping from an ache in my heart. Instead, I am reminded of all the people who made themselves available for me to lean on. Classmates I hardly talked to were making cards and reaching out to see if I needed help with homework. Neighbors and friends were preparing meals for my family and my best friend called me daily. I can remember people organizing prayer services and offering masses across the diocese for our family. There was a blanket of love surrounding us the entire time which was accompanied with a level of comfort that is impossible to explain.
Now, almost 12 years later, I am working at a catholic school where I started working alongside a kindhearted veteran teacher. She bravely mentioned a newspaper article she read in the winter of 2010 about eight daughters who lost their mom in a car accident. With tears in both our eyes she told me that from that day forward she has prayed for our family every single day. That is a true act of love. This sweet woman had never met anyone from my family and yet she has been praying for us all these years!
When Jesus calls us to love one another, he does not expect us to go around telling everyone we love them. He does not expect us to burden ourselves with massive gestures. Love can be shown through various levels of intentionality. The smallest form of love can leave the biggest impact. Do not be afraid to love the people around you! A short prayer for a family you do not know, a warm meal, or a genuine hug can be enough to remind someone they are loved.
Until next time~Your sister in Christ,