Sharing the Gift Week 4: The Insanity of God’s Love
Share the Gift Week 4 – Insanity of God’s love
20 February 2022
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Have you ever thought about how crazy God seems that he loves us? How bad of a deal it seems for Him? The idea that God created us to be in relationship with Him, to enjoy Him and the creation He gave us; and that our first parents, Adam and Eve, threw it all away. And then, that we do the same, how we throw away God’s blessings, specifically, our relationship with Him. That by our actions and our lives, we often reject God’s love for us. And yet, God loves us. It’s a crazy love. An intense love. It’s insane.
This is the fourth and final week of our message series: Share the Gift. For the last three weeks we have been revealing ways that we, as a church community, and you, as an individual, can share the gift of your faith in Jesus Christ, and the love that God has for all people.
In the Gospel today, Jesus gives us the principle of love. Looking from the perspective of the world, the things that Jesus tells his disciples seem weak and insipid. Like a pushover or a loser. But instead it comes from the way love works.
Think about it: Love your enemies? Do good to those who hate you? Bless those who curse you? Pray for the good of those who mistreat you? If someone takes something from you let them keep it? What kind of craziness is this? And in the eyes of the world, it is crazy. Our world is, “an eye for an eye,” kind of place.
You will hear it said, “The only way they will learn their lesson is if…” and fill in the blank. As if it’s our job to make sure people learn a lesson. Jesus makes it very clear it is our job to love as God does. Period. He even says, “…if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?”
We see an illustration of this type of living by a higher standard in today’s first reading when David, after having been hunted down by King Saul and his assassins, was presented with an opportunity to kill the one who was seeking to kill him. David’s soldiers advised him to take advantage of the opportunity to kill Saul while he was sleeping, saying “God has given your enemy into your hand.” But David was not looking at the situation with their eyes, but with God’s. Even though his life would have been made so much easier if Saul were dead, even though he might have been able to justify killing him in self-defense, David replied, “Who can raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” Although Saul was committing evil against David, David wouldn’t return evil. Instead, he treated Saul with mercy. Saul, experiencing that mercy, changed. As we see later in the First Book of Samuel, Saul repented of the evil he was planning to do and David and Saul were reconciled.
All of us are called to act in a similar way. Even when people are treating us badly, speaking ill of us, trying to harm us, even if some were — God forbid! — trying to hunt us down and to kill us, Jesus calls us to remember like David that each of those wrongdoers is made in his image and likeness.
If we, like David, refuse to descend to their level but rather treat them with mercy and try to raise them up to our level, to Christ’s level, then they, like Saul, may convert. Said in another way, others may consider us THEIR enemies, but Christ calls us not to consider them OUR enemies, but rather to love them, to do good to them, to bless them, to pray for them, and to forgive them.
God loves us with unconditional love and calls us to love others with unconditional love. Insanity! God’s love for us, in this way, seems crazy.
Jesus warns us, though, that we will be judged by God in the end, in the same way we judge.
The Father will treat us by the standard we adopt. If we wish to be forgiven by him, we must forgive others. If we wish not to be condemned by him, then we must not condemn others. If we wish to be loved by him even when we sin against Him, then we must love others even when they sin against us.
If we choose to love others conditionally — to do good only to those who are good to us, to forgive only some, to condemn those who we think deserve it, to retaliate when someone harms us — then Jesus tells us that that is the measure we will receive.
This truth is not an exception to God’s unconditional love for us; he still loves us even when we are “ungrateful and wicked” and never wishes to condemn us. It is, in fact, one of the supreme illustrations of the Father’s unconditional love for us, that he gave us the freedom to choose to reject that love. When we do, it’s not that he no longer loves us unconditionally, but rather we refuse to let his unconditional love live in us and grow. We refuse to receive what he wants to give us. That is why the measure we measure out to others will be measured back to us: the only way for us to receive the full measure of God’s unconditional love, to have our laps filled to overflowing with his graces, is by our opening ourselves up to receive them, loving them unconditionally. If we don’t live according to Jesus’ standard of love, if we don’t sacrifice for those who hate us, bless those who curse us, do good to those who mistreat us and forgive those who wrong us, then we close ourselves off to God’s greatest blessing. The only way we can experience those blessings is by following Christ. Christ calls us to live by his standard of love precisely so that in doing so we will be able to receive from the Father in return the full measure of his love!
Jesus wants us to not compare ourselves to others in the world, but to compare ourselves to Him, and, with the help he always provides, to model our lives on the way shown by Him. Each of us — if we’re honest enough to admit it — has fallen short of it. As challenging as it is, Jesus never calls us to something that’s impossible to accomplish — if we rely on his help. Jesus says to us again today, “Love one another as I have loved you.” If we live by this standard, we will open ourselves to the fullness of his love and follow him along the thin, ascending path to true and eternal happiness! It is because of the insanity of God’s love — that he would love us while we are still at time not living as his followers — that we understand and receive His mercy.
The perfect opportunity to grow deeper in this love and to feel supported by God is to be a part of our spiritual campaign. Think about all of the wonderful possibilities for not only our community, but for you as a person.
There are two ways to be involved in this spiritual campaign:
1) Come to Mass every Sunday to receive the Sacraments and to hear the message that God has for you in the readings and the homily. Maybe even bring a friend.
2) Join a small group. To do that, you go to our website, saintmary.life and scroll down and click the Seriously God box.
God’s love for us is insane. And one of the best ways to experience and learn more about the crazy love God has for you is to be in a group of people who share that same love.