Who Is Hard For You To Love? (And How Might You Love Them Anyway?)
“We love because God loved us first” (1 John 4:19). That truth is especially sublime when we hear it in Holy Week, when we watch with awe as someone embraces the whole world in love—and chooses to die rather than limiting or qualifying that love. If Jesus had recanted, if he had just admitted that, yes, there are some who are more deserving of God’s love, and some who really aren’t, they would have let him go.
This is what divine love does. It loves the unlovely. It loves those who resist love, those—even—who reject love. Which is all of us. As Paul writes in Romans, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”
If we seek to love someone who is hard to love, it will have to be a borrowed love. We will have to admit that we just don’t have it within ourselves. We will have to ask if we can borrow the love we need. It seems preposterous for all of us undeserving souls to say we must love like God, but that’s actually what has to happen. And it works not because we finally get good at this stuff, but because it’s all borrowed. It’s divine love in the back door, divine love out the front door.
In moments when my own love comes up painfully short, I remember the words of St. John of the Cross. “Where there is no love put love, and you will find love.” It makes no sense to ask someone with “no love” to “put love” somewhere, until you realize that the love extended toward the unlovable is totally borrowed.
People who equate love with feelings of attraction and natural affinity will maintain that real love can’t be borrowed. Either you feel it or you don’t. But in fact the deepest love, the kind that breaks open our hearts and melts us with its fierce fire, can only be received as a gift.
This could all be true or it could all be religious bunkum. The only way to find out is to try it for yourself. Where there is no love, put love, and see if you just might find love.
Who is hard for you to love? (And how might you love them anyway?)
Question #19 “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” comes Maundy Thursday April 6.