Baby Steps

My post on the latest “controversy” regarding Pope Francis has me thinking about something else the Pope has been reminding me of consistently during his first year as Pontiff and my failure, my miserable failure at it.

Love.

Pope Francis, time and time again says and shows with his actions, that we are supposed to love people. Everyone. All the time. And that means loving people where they are at. Even if where they are at is hating God and Christians. Even if where they are at is being lazy and slovenly and generally unproductive. Even if where they are at is hurtful and spiting. Even then, I’m supposed to love them.

And Pope Francis hasn’t just been the one saying it. Jesus has. Darn it.

I give you a new commandment:– love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.                John 13:34

See, it says it right there, Jesus COMMANDS me to do it. So I have to do it, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, the only people I’ve ever loved effortlessly are the three who were surgically removed from my abdomen, and even then, it can be hard to love them sometimes. And it gets worse:

This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

As the oft-maligned hymn Anthem states “They will know we are Christians by our love.” So when I choose, of my own choice, NOT to love someone, even if they are being particularly unlovable? I’m out of His favor. And I’m in someone else’s grip. And I don’t want to be there. I hate being there. So the answer is easy, right? I just need to love some people, lots of people, all the people, all the time.

The enormity of that responsibility overwhelms me. If people want to see in my face the face of Christ, I have to be loving. That love will beget grace. And it’s these things that SOUND so easy, that the answers are gimmes, they aren’t even hard to figure out because they are right there in flashing lights, that are the hardest to put into action. And I struggle. A lot. I struggle to figure out what I’m supposed to do to make my heart love all the peoples all the time.

I figure one step, and not an easy one, is to guard my words. To consecrate them and myself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Immediately. Every day. First thing. To let you know how today is going, I already forgot to do it first thing this morning. But no matter, I will do it now. I can’t mourn about the opportunity lost, I must push forward. And that’s true for my larger goal to love people. I can’t dwell on the missed opportunities,  but I must focus on the present ones in preparation for the future. I don’t underestimate my ability to fail multiple times at this.

Once I get that down, I can move toward my facial expressions, my thoughts and which will all help me toward the conquering of that mountain of “loving without judging while ensuring my love is not mistaken for endorsement of sin.” Because it’s a very slippery slope today to be a Christian and remain in line with God’s word and Church teaching while still letting people know you love them. But I’ve barely reached the summit of that mountain at this  point. One little baby step at a time.

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