In the two Sunday’s prior to the start of Lent, Jesus has been lecturing his disciples regarding the teachings of the Law. As we enter into this season of Lent there seems to be a clear connection between these Gospel readings and the shadow of the Cross that looms large on the horizon. God’s law is the law of LOVE. Love that sends Jesus to teach, to be an example, and ultimately to die with the weight of human failings on his shoulders. This love is not the love of fairy tales or movies. It’s not the love we see in magazines or newspapers. No, to paraphrase Dorothy Day, the love of God is beautiful, but it is also a difficult and dreadful thing.
The love of God requires more of us. More than just not killing another, but we must not even kill others’ spirit or joy. How easy is it to say one thing, one small side comment, one disapproving look to break somebody’s spirit and take away their joy? Love demands reconciliation. Jesus literally tells his disciples if you are angry with another, go and make peace with that person before you do anything else. He tells us in plain words to, “leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled… (Mt 5:24).” Before even thinking about doing anything else, even before offering anything up to GOD – go and make peace, go and love! This love is a challenge to give freely to others without thinking of one’s self. Jesus tells us to give the clothes off of our back to others, to give more than is even asked of us.
In reflecting on this love, the love that compels us to act for others, my mind skipped ahead a few chapters to the scene at the foot of the cross. Jesus, as he is dying for us, gives his mother Mary to John, one of the 12 apostles, and John to Mary. In this act of love, Jesus gives Mary and John to the world, to the generation of the day and to all future generations. In doing so, we too are given to our sisters and brothers across the world. If we believe that God is love, and that God dwells within each of us no matter our race, creed or customs, then love dwells within each and every human being. We live by God alone who is love.
Here on the Farm, we strive to live that self-sacrificial love through the cornerstones– PRAYER, SIMPLICITY, SERVICE, and COMMUNITY, and believe me it’s not an easy thing to do. The love that God lavishes on us calls us to live a life of prayer, to allow God in our lives daily, to make our lives a constant prayer, seeking to do the will of God and letting our selfish desires fade away. The goal of prayer is to see the world through the eyes of the Gospel– which is with eyes of radical love. I may not want to always turn the compost or wash somebody else’s dishes, but when I take a moment to reflect, how could I NOT do those seemingly gross and mundane chores?! If I am intertwined with every other human being on this Earth, then it is a joy to serve in this little corner of the world to work to repair homes and to foster communities of compassionate accompaniment.
God’s love necessitates simplicity. Simplicity not only to declutter our lives and allow us the ability to focus on things and people about whom we care, but also to allow us to recognize the injustices in the world. If we truly want to be called Christians and be known by our love, we would not simply give food to the hungry – we would instead ask, “Why are people starving and hungry?” And then work, I mean really work, toward answers and solutions. Love calls us to deny ourselves, to think about what we are eating, buying, where we are sleeping, and where we go. To love is to be poor, to give of the excess we have so others may have enough. And in all of this we are called to live lives of service. We are called to see the face of Christ in our sisters and brothers, even those sisters and brothers who annoy us, irk us, and those who we think we cannot even bear to spend any time with, and to LOVE them.
Fortunately, we have the greatest teacher and example ever, Jesus. Jesus had nothing, he roamed around loving, really loving everyone who came to him. He resisted the temptations in this Sunday’s Gospel reading of money, power, prestige, and creature comforts. I might have been tempted and even given in to the temptation of worldly power as a way to right the societal wrongs that are rampant across the globe. Who among us would turn down riches if we knew that we could provide for our families and friends with ease?! But Jesus turned all these down; God’s love is greater than all the worldly desires.
Yes, to love is a difficult arduous task, but it’s really the only thing that matters. How can the cornerstones of the Farm help you to grow in love?