Love Lives: Week 3
We are in the third week of a series for the Easter season we are calling “Love Lives.”
Whenever we meet Jesus in the gospel we see love in action. Of course, as we all know, loving others does not always guarantee a loving response. Sometimes we love others, and we get hurt.
Jesus acted with perfect love and yet his enemies put him to death. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. On Easter Sunday, Jesus emerged from the grave. He who is love in action could not be defeated.
Here is something else about love. Through our relationship with Jesus we can access the power to love the people around us the way we really want to love them. Loving people through the power that comes from the love of God in our hearts is a very different approach.
Last week we learned the first key to truly loving the people around us is to see them as God sees them, as his sons and daughters. Every person has value because they are all sons and daughters of God. That is how God sees everyone, and we are challenged to do the same. Do you know what it ultimately means to be a Catholic? It means to see the world as God sees the world. Now that is a true challenge.
Today we are going to look at what love looks like when you experience a rift in a relationship.
Misunderstandings are commonplace. In any personal or business relationship there will be breakdowns in communication. It is said one of the biggest problems in communication is the illusion that communication has taken place.
Some rifts come from disagreements. We just don’t see an issue the same way.
Then there are the feuds and fights that are the result of the initial lack of agreement, resulting in thoughtless remarks, needless drama, gossip, and unkindness.
If these relationship rifts are never addressed, they become deep divides. What does love look like in situations where there is a rift in a relationship?
Let’s see what today’s biblical readings have to say about that. The gospel explains an encounter that takes place on Easter Sunday evening.
Peter and John and the other apostles were trying to make sense of what is happening. They had layers of emotions. The religious and political authorities killed their beloved leader three days earlier. Their hopes and dreams for the future were dashed. So they were dealing with severe disappointment.
They were also dealing with fear, fear that the same leaders might come after them because of their association with Jesus. On top of that is confusion. What is going on? The tomb is empty. The body is missing. People are saying they’ve seen Jesus alive.
Over and above all these emotions were feelings of shame. They had abandoned their leader in his time of need. The apostles are in this whole muddled mess of emotion when Jesus appears to them.
As Jesus stands in the midst of the Apostles, who had abandoned him in his time of need, his first words are “Peace be with you.”
There was a rift in their relationship and Jesus shows us what love does, what love in action looks like. He offers peace. Then he reassures them. The apostles didn’t believe their eyes. Who would? They assume he is a ghost or an illusion. So Jesus invites them to touch him and see he is for real. This doesn’t convince them.
A ghost or an illusion doesn’t eat; consequently, he eats with them to show he is really bodily present, but also to break down barriers between them.
Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, to help them to see what had happened from God’s perspective. He explained, his crucifixion, death and resurrection were not a surprise to him. It had been part of God’s plan all along. God had sent Jesus into the world to suffer, die and be raised from the dead to re-establish a relationship with a broken world, a relationship he refused to give up on.
Love lives in us when we are the first person to bring peace to a relationship rift. As Christ followers, we can extend peace to others because we have peace with God through Jesus Christ.
I know that God is not holding my sins against me. I know he is not keeping score of all my past mistakes and failures, and he did everything he could to re-establish his relationship with me. Can I do any less?
So let me make three suggestions when it comes to bringing peace to a relational rift whether it takes place at home, at work, or with your friends at school.
First, pray. And you might be thinking. I’ll pray. I’ll pray that they see what jerks they’ve been and come crawling back to me. No, that’s not what I mean.
Pray in such a way that you are reminded of the peace you have with God because of the Cross of Christ. Prayer helps me to develop the right attitude of desiring peace. A right attitude precedes a right action. When I am overwhelmed with bitterness, disappointment, or frustration it can lead to inaction. Prayer can be the way forward.
To achieve peace, I’ve got to get over the idea of always being right, or having the last word, or winning every argument.
I have to redefine success and what winning looks like. Instead of being only all about winning, can it be about reestablishing the relationship and restoring peace?
Second suggestion – make peace as quickly as possible. Jesus went to the apostles the very night he rose from the dead. He didn’t wait.
This is so much easier to talk about than to do, especially if you’re a task driven, action driven type of person, like me, this will be harder for you. Because on the surface it seems like a waste of time. You may be thinking that things will sort themselves out. She’ll get over it. He’ll get over it. Let’s just get on with it.
But that is rarely the case. A few minutes of addressing an issue goes a long way.
Third, do something simple as a sign of peace.
As I mentioned earlier, the spiritual life is simple but not easy. Extend the olive branch in a simple way. “I’m sorry” goes a long way.
In most cases we can say “I’m sorry” with honesty and integrity because, if we’re at all honest, we have to acknowledge we own at least part of the problem. And we can certainly be sorry for that part.
I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I am sorry I didn’t understand you. I’m sorry I overreacted. I’m sorry this ever happened.
80 to 90 percent of our relational rifts can be solved with a simple “I’m sorry” and really and truly owning how we have contributed to it. Those words spoken humbly and vulnerably tend to lower others defenses and build bridges to reestablish relationships.
What if everyone here did this? It would transform families and our community.
But first of all it would transform our own hearts. You can love others enough to offer them peace because the same Jesus who died, so you could have peace with God, lives in you to help you understand and see as he sees.
To love as God loves, you’ve got to see as he sees. What does it ultimately mean to be a Catholic Christian. . . to see as God sees. To love as God loves, you’ve got to see as he sees.