I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him. (JN 14:18-21)
Back in the day, a band called Extreme had a song that got a lot of air play. The catch phrase or hook was the line, "then you wouldn't have to say that you love me, 'cause I'd already know."Although 90's rock bands aren't usually recognized for great theological insight, Extreme is on to something there. When it comes to expressing love, what we do is so much more important than what we say.
Jesus is very clear on how we should be showing we love him, having his commandments and observing them. When we hear "commandments" we probably think first of the Ten Commandments given to Moses and recorded in the book of Exodus. It's a great start. These are fundamental rules for living in healthy, strong and loving relationship with God and each other. The world would surely be much improved if everyone focused on putting God first, not betraying those we are in relationship with and taking nothing that belongs to someone else especially their life.
But throughout the gospels, Jesus continues to stress that over and above these commandments, we are to love God above all else and to love other people. Earlier in John's Gospel, Jesus told his disciples, "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (JN 13:34-35) This could not be any clearer. Jesus expects his followers to love. Not to tolerate one another, not to give what you feel someone may deserve and no more, but to love them. And to make sure we understood what he meant, he spent his three-year earthly ministry showing us how it's done. Jesus was a healer, a teacher, a friend. He fed the hungry, sought out the outcast, bore patiently with his followers, forgave those who hurt him and ultimately endured torture and death to bring redemption to the world.
We don't have to figure this love thing out on our own. We have not been left orphans. Jesus tells us that he will reveal himself to those who love him, and as he does, it becomes more and more a natural thing to love as he does.
And so, when the young mother with the whiny toddler cuts in front of us at the grocery store, in the express line no less when she has way more than 12 items, we can let Jesus reveal what he sees. "Wow, she is so rude!" becomes, "Wow, does she look tired! I bet she doesn't even know this is the express line."
And instead of an exasperated sigh and an eye roll, we can offer a smile, maybe a little encouragement and help with distracting said toddler from dismantling the candy display. Every day we should say to God that we love him, but hopefully, we spent that day in a way that made sure he already knows.
Editor's note: Ellen Sargent is a long-time resident of the Marquette area and member of the Catholic Church. She is married to Mining Journal Managing Editor Bud Sargent.