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“When you run out of love, just make some more!”
My grandmother used to tell me this when I was having trouble loving someone or forgiving them. You might not like someone, but you can always love them. “Like,” having to do with feelings, you can’t control. “Love,” having to do with actions, you can.
When I felt hurt or betrayed or ignored by someone, Grandma encouraged me to think of ways to show kindness or forgiveness – real love. She knew that was where the real fulfillment came, and frankly where the real power was. Not in paying back, or in giving as good as you’d got, but in giving better. All I had to do was set myself aside and think of them. As St Paul told the Romans, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:20-21).
“Overcome evil with good.”
The only way to do that, is with love. Not feeling-love, but doing-love. Not romantic love, which is famous for blazing up and burning out, but self-giving love. That’s the love that never ends, that never runs out, that never fails. It’s the love St. Paul wrote of in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends . . . . (1 Cor 13:4-8a)
“Love never ends”
That really caught me this time reading it: “Love never ends.” I think of times I’ve thought, “it’s over. That’s it. I can never, ever trust that person again.” Or “we’re done. I can’t deal with you anymore.” But love never ends. There’s an inexhaustible supply of love in the one who is love, Jesus Christ. Because he loved us first, and freed us from the death that comes from not-love, we can love other people. We can pour ourselves out because he keeps filling us up. When our love’s not enough we can love others with his love. We can be patient with their imperfections. Kind when they are down. Supportive instead of jealous and resentful. With his love, we can care for each other, suffer with one another, rejoice together as the parts of the same Body we are.
“Make love your aim”
No wonder St. Paul went on to say, “Make love your aim.” That’s the Revised Version; the New American says “Pursue love.” Douay-Rheims? “Follow after charity.” The Greek is dioko; it means to “pursue with all haste, earnestly desiring to overtake.” I think of Jesus saying “Follow me.” To follow love, that’s what we do: we follow Christ. All the way to the Cross.
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:13)
©2019 Sarah Christmyer
- The Power of Love to Heal—John 21:15-19
- The Power of a Psalm—God’s Love Upholds Me
- How do I Love Thee? A Lesson From Tabgha