When Christ asked Peter "do you love me"? He used the form of Agape. Peter, understanding his humanness, could respond only with the "Philia" form of love. Peter knows that he is friends with Jesus but is unsure if he can reach that level of self-sacrificing love.
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love (agapēseis) your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love (agapāte) your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?I was talking to my friend the other day and we were reflecting on the fact that we, as Christians, are called to LOVE...to show Christ's love to all we meet. Ug. I can sit in Adoration for hours, pray the rosary, read and reflect on the Catechism but this love thing...it's hard for me. I'm a bit like Peter. I will help you and support you. I will want with all my heart to put your needs above mine. Sometimes I succeed. Often, though, my brokenness is too strong and I fail. I am selfish. I want to know why I should help when I already have so much on my plate? When I was praying the novena last week, the knot I asked Our Mother to untie was one in which I was putting myself before others. It's a frequent theme in my life.
I think that's why these last four weeks have been such a gift. The blessing of receiving love and care from others, aside from meeting my spiritual and corporal needs, has been my realization that Agape, while an all-the-time thing for Christ and his Blessed Mother, probably comes more in spurts to the rest of us. The people who have been helping watch my kids and cook meals and run errands, they are shining with Agape love in those moments. What could be more love-of-other than cooking a meal and delivering it to a family who's mother is unable to feed her family? Who would volunteer to watch 5 kids unless it came from a completely selfless place? DH, more than anyone, has been so full of Agape love during this time. Of course, there are moments of short-temper and exhaustion. We are all human and I think our Agape capacity will always be limited. Still, there is hope.
Striving to be the face of Christ means moving in that direction; trying to put others before me in all possible situations. Sometimes this is as simple as holding a door, or giving a smile. Often it is so much more difficult. In the last ten days I have had friends and neighbors who are going through major illnesses, losses, and life changes. I struggle with how to show the face of Christ to those dear people. What do I "do" to help a family who just had their much longed-for baby taken from the womb back to Heaven? How do I show Christ to the family who is struggling to transition from the home they've shared for decades into an assisted living situation, likely their last dwelling place on Earth? From this bed, how can I possibly help a young mother who is facing a dire health situation within her family? I was feeling more helpless than usual.
So, I prayed and I will continue to pray. When I am again "on my feet" I will be able to help in a more tangible way but, ultimately, I feel that most times prayer is the best thing we can do. Even then, there will be days and situations that don't have an easy solution. I am at a complete loss for my friends who lost their child. I know in His wisdom, God's will is good and correct but at the moment I'm so angry and sad about that situation. When, God willing, I get to heaven, it's going to be on the my Top 10 List of "what were You thinking?" ;0) So, I pray. I pray that they are given more grace because it is their cross to bear. I pray (and know fully) that God can listen to my hurt and anger and continue to love me abundantly as His flawed child. I am so blessed.
I'm not sure if this is what I had originally intended with this blog. I suppose, to try to tie it up neatly, I will wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. Show love to those you love and those you don't. Pray for the people who have hurt you. Help someone in need. Don't forget the other feast day on February 14th. Strive to make every day, not just tomorrow, a day when you choose other over self. Can you imagine a world where everyone made that decision?