Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us (1 Jn 11-12).
Love one another. This feels like both the easiest and the hardest part of my faith. Of course I love others! I love my husband and my kids, my parents, my friends and neighbors, and I’m even nice to the people I meet at the store or the doctor’s office. If I’m loving all these people, God is remaining in me, right?
I find this reading challenging as well, because if I’m honest with myself, there are plenty of people I’m not loving at all, or at least not nearly as well as Christ loves me. I often catch myself being snappy with my children, dismissive of people I disagree with, and impatient with anyone and everyone. Clearly, I haven’t reached perfection quite yet. I’m reminded of a quote from Dorothy Day: I really only love God as much as the person I love the least.
I know I have a long way to go and that I’m not likely to progress quickly, so I’m thankful that God is patient (even when I’m not), and that he understands that I’m a work in progress. In the meantime, I can also rededicate myself to loving those whom God has given me the most opportunities to love—my family. And I can do that by making the little sacrifices that show them God’s care for them—helping with their chores when they have a big project due, giving an extra smile and hug when they are down. The good news is that there is no lack of opportunity, especially for us moms. God often presents us with chances to show his love at all hours of the day and night.
As the Spanish Trappist oblate St. Rafael Arnáiz wrote, I’m peeling turnips for love . . . for the love of Jesus Christ. It is the same for us: I am looking for lost shoes, taking out the trash, baking a birthday cake, all for the love of Jesus Christ.
With prayer (and, of course, patience) all those turnips and trash trips are training us towards the perfection of love that God wishes for us. As I practice listening like Christ to my children, I get closer to listening like Christ to strangers and “enemies” as well. Our homes are schools of virtue, not just for our children, but (thank God!) for ourselves as well.
Again, St. Rafael Arnáiz: Let us make the most of the little things in our everyday life, our ordinary life . . . There is no need to do great things to become great saints. Making the little things great is enough. Amen!