Paul reminds us that love is central to our lives as Christians. We are to “owe no one anything, except to love one another.” He reminds us that love is the fulfillment of all that God requires of us. Love is not a warm feeling or a deep longing. Love is the energy that drives our actions in response to the love God shows us. We do not believe that God loves us because of some warm feeling God has toward us. We believe God loves us because of the way God has acted in our lives through Christ. Here Paul tells us who and how we are to love. We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves; that is, we are to work for our neighbor’s good. Jesus reminds us who our neighbor is: even our enemy is our neighbor. Working for the good of our neighbor is one thing, but to work for the good of our enemies?
When we understand love as acting for good on behalf of others, then love truly can fulfill all that God requires of us. Acting for good on behalf of those we love keeps us from breaking our vows to them. Acting for good on behalf of our neighbors keeps us from harming them. Often we speak of love as if it is sweet and easy, but it is often anything but easy. So the issue Paul presents to us is: Are we willing to do the hard work of action for the good of others? What might our families be like if we love this way? our relationships? our church family? our relationships with “them”?
A Guided Meditation: Get comfortable and relax. Take several deep breaths, and rest between each of these suggestions: Remember how God has acted in your life. Ponder how you might act for good in your neighbor’s life. Seek God’s help in loving others.
We move forward in the story of Moses to the climax in Egypt, the tenth plague. God tells the Israelites to prepare for the terrible night to come and establishes the feast of Passover. It is to be an eternal reminder of what God has done for the people. The psalmist praises God for faithfulness and victory, including overthrowing those who would oppress them. Egypt is not mentioned specifically, yet the Passover represents just such a situation. Paul echoes Jesus in summarizing much of the Law in one simple commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus provides practical teaching on handling disagreements. Our first responsibility is to go to the other party privately and then include others only as necessary. Gossip and social media are not the ways to handle our disputes.
Read Exodus 12:1-14. How has the story of Passover shaped your faith?
Read Psalm 149. How has God called you to seek freedom from oppression for yourself or others through praise and through action?
Read Romans 13:8-14. What does it mean to consider love a driving force rather than a warm feeling? How does this understanding change the way you act toward yourself and your neighbors?
Read Matthew 18:15-20. When have you participated in or witnessed true reconciliation? How did you see compassion at work?
Responda publicando una oración.