Very often, we forget to love.
When we are in a hurry and stuck in traffic;
when someone skips us in a queue at the supermarket;
when our delivery order is late;
when the bank just won’t answer our calls;
when a family member says the wrong thing at Sunday lunch.
Situations provoke anything but love within us sometimes. The reality is that we are human beings living together in the same space and it is easy to step on each other’s toes or get on each other’s nerves. Many of us are not inclined to be patient and it takes a lot more effort to hold our tongue and not give the person a piece of our mind.
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
It is difficult to stay calm and treat a frustrating person with love, but isn’t that what Jesus does every single time we make mistakes? If anyone managed to do exactly what He preached, it is Jesus Himself and He also challenges us to do the same: to love even when it hurts, to love even when it means forgetting ourselves, and to love even when we are too proud to do so, because ultimately this is exactly who He is. Jesus showed us the most sacrificial form of love by dying on the cross, which could only happen if He was born as a baby. It is because He became human that we now have access to Him in a way that we wouldn’t have had if He had not been born, to die and be resurrected.
But what does it mean to love?
St Paul gives us a very descriptive explanation in the first book to the Corinthians, which we may have heard before, especially at weddings because the topic fits so perfectly, but do we actually put this into practice in our daily life?
“Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
It is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends.”
1 Corinthians 13:4–8
This Christmas, let us place our names instead of the word ‘love’ in this bible verse and question whether we are truly living up to what it means to love one another as Jesus said.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Choosing to follow Jesus and have Him as the centre of our life means deciding to do everything in love as He is love Himself. He gives us the grace to react less out of frustration, anger and impatience and more out of love. Sharing the faith begins through our example – loving even when it is difficult to do so will move people to question how we are able to live differently and this provides us with opportunities to talk about Jesus.
But how can we start doing this?
When we spend time with Jesus in prayer, He softens our heart and gives us the grace and wisdom to know how to react in situations we are faced with every single day. If we invite God into our life, we give Him the space to show us a different perspective of the people around us, seeing them as His children, and growing more inclined to love and less likely to respond in bitterness. If we take it upon ourselves to stop for a few seconds before reacting immediately, we can teach our heart to be receptive to God’s will and catch ourselves before losing our temper or saying hurtful comments in the heat of the moment. Having a heart that is open for God to enter even these little moments in our day equips us to be more like Him, in our thoughts, words, and ultimately even our actions.
This Christmas we can ask Jesus to teach us how to love like Him.
Heavenly Father, I want to be able to love more, and see the people around me as Your beloved children. Remove any bitterness, anger, and frustration within me and overflow me instead with your peace, love and joy. Show me how to react with more kindness and less impatience and guide me to people who can help me be more like You. Give me the grace to have an open heart, make a difference in the world and be faithful to You so that more people will know You through my daily actions.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Written by Sarah Zammit Munro