By Angie Koenig
As much as a strive to be Christ-like, I have to say that I often times find myself relating much more to St. Paul than to Jesus. When I read the words Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel passage, oh how I desire to behave in the way He commands. I think about the people in my life I try to avoid, I think about the people I know I lose my temper with, the ones whose flaws I can’t seem to stop focusing on, and I tell myself, “Not today Satan! I’m gonna love those people now… from a distance.”
But, inevitably, the distance is shortened and I encounter someone who rubs me the wrong way and instead of reminding myself just how much I should love them, I usually leave the encounter proclaiming, “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate Romans 7:15,” in much less poetic words. This is a cycle I have worked to overcome for many years, and I’m still working on it. However, as I reflected on the Lord’s words today, I was struck by two seemingly insignificant ones – just as.
It’s easy to love people from a distance, to include them in a prayer intention or maybe even light a candle for them when you head to church; how nice you feel for being so generous in those moments. But as beloved children of our Heavenly Father, we are called – we were made – for more than that, because God has never loved us from a distance. To be just as means to be fully invested.
To be just as your Father is an invitation to be holy, and being holy takes effort and sacrifice. “Loving” people from a distance is taking the easy way out if we aren’t willing to enter into the self-sacrifice of certain relationships and work towards something beautiful. We often hear that love is a verb, and it’s true. Verbs are action words, and action connotes effort. In simplified terms I think what Jesus is telling us today is that sinners take the easy way out, disciples put in the work – and they are rewarded for it.
If we desire the reward of communion with our Heavenly Father, then we need to appreciate the communion He has provided us while we await our Heavenly homecoming.
This idea of communion becomes easier to work towards when I remember that I too have a desire to be loved, and I know just how flawed I am. I am filled with humility and gratitude when I acknowledge that if others can love me in my messy state, if others can find beauty in me, who am I to withhold love from those around me? Just as the Father loves me, He loves and desires everyone I encounter on my earthly journey.
I invite you to reflect today on your own journey towards being just as. Are there people in your life you are keeping at arm’s length whom God might be calling you to love with a little more determination? Are there situations you are avoiding knowing you have to put effort forth? Even if all of your loving actions may go unnoticed on this earth by the people around you, remember, your reward will be great in Heaven.
I invite you to also call upon your Savior, He knows all about the beauty that comes through sacrifice. Praise God that His love is always ready and waiting to guide us towards communion, just as we are. I’m praying for you sisters, please pray for me too, that every day we strive to be cheek turners, cloak givers and true forgivers – actions and effort that transform us to become just as.
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