Impelled by Love

A Reflection on the Readings from 2 Corinthians & Matthew for Saturday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

What drives you?  Do you want to be known for your great contributions?  Do you wish to acquire wealth and goods?  Does it bring you satisfaction to see people following your lead?  Maybe, you are driven by a competitive desire to be or do better than others.  Are you driven by the desire for pleasure and good feelings?  Maybe I nailed your answer and maybe I didn’t.  I asked the questions though because of the driving force that Paul offers us in the first reading.  He writes, “The love of Christ impels us.”  Can we reconcile these words to our lives?

Do we know what kind of love it is that he is referring to?  In some very human way I’m sure that Jesus feels positive, warm, and pleasant feelings toward us, but is this what Paul means by love?  I don’t think so.

I think he is really referring to the idea that Christ expressed a love of self-emptying and self-giving.   Fr. Robert Barron presents it this way, “To will the good of another, as other.”  Christ desires our ultimate good for us without any selfish and self-interested motivations.  This should motivate us, because if we are loved in this way it should call us to also love with selfless love.

This kind of love also plays into Paul’s line identifying us as ambassadors for Christ.  For, if we love others, as others, without self-interest then suddenly our love is credible.   And if our love mirrors Christ’s love then we help people see his love as credible too.

It is this appeal for credibility that I think Christ is calling us to in the Gospel.  He says, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’” Be credible.  We should never have to tell people when we mean what we say and when we don’t.  If you tell someone that you love them then don’t play the, “I love you if this, or I love you if that” game.  Just love them, actively as a verb.  I don’t mean just try to conjure up warm feelings for this person, though that is nice.  Rather, I mean the act of willing their good, even if they can offer you nothing in return.  And we are impelled to love this way because Christ loves this way.

You can ask him.  Ask him if he loves you.  Ask him if he loves you for what he received in return.  Does he love you for what he ‘got’ out of it?  My advice, ask those questions sitting in front of a crucifix and I think you’ll find that when he says “yes, I love you” he means it.

Now the question is, to encounter that kind of love, does it change anything?  Or put another way, if tomorrow, you were presented with irrefutable and undeniable evidence that Jesus Christ did not die for us, would that change anything about your life?  It might be a good question to help us discover if Christ’s love impel us or are we in it for ourselves?

Originally Posted on June 13, 2015 at Ite Missa Est

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