|Fall morning at Lazy Acres Alpaca Farm|
Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness. 1 John 2:9-11I know this. This is nothing new. A faithful Christian is called to love brothers and sisters without regard for any circumstance of their lives. Admittedly my life is typically filled with people whom it is easy to love because I like them or they wouldn't be in my life. There are exceptions, of course, where family or job relationships require interaction but even with these I can find a way to minimize those relationships. So I can pretty much go through my life liking and loving easy to love folks. It is always easier if they like and love me as well.
But what people I don't like? Well, I am to love them as well. Who might they be? There are the ususal suspects of family members or co-workers who have hurt me or worked against me. These are people with whom I prefer not to associate but rather those who have actively and consciously worked to hurt me or cause me pain. While I can manage my life so that they are not really part of it, I have memories of them and their actions. When i recall those memories, I often allow the acid of revenge to rise my throat. I can easily dwell on how much they hurt me. I can even begin to fantasize about how I might hurt them in return or about how I have hurt them. Each of us have people in our lives from whom we are tempted to withhold the forgiveness that John writes about and even to withhold the love that Jesus preached and exemplified. This reading calls us to reflect on those people and to pray for the grace to truly forgive and love even if we do not choose to have them in our lives.
Further in this highly contentious election season in the United States, both candidates were demonized by each other. In the aftermath of the clear, though somewhat ambiguous results, many still harbor strong feelings against the man who will be inaugurated as president on January 20. These feelings are at times so strong that the language easily verges into hateful sentiments. Even the losing candidate is subjected to such hateful speech by those who opposed her.
As difficult as it may be accept or understand, regardless of how much we disagree with and even intensely dislike one of these candidates, John and Jesus before him calls us to love them both. Further that love is not contingent on what they say or do. The call to love is universal and particular. I am called to love all humanity and all creation and to love every specific person and creature. Otherwise we will simply stumble around in the darkness.