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Center for Action and Contemplation
The Way of Jesus
The Way of Jesus

A Deeper Way of Love

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

CAC faculty member Brian McLaren describes how Jesus centers love as the path for us to follow:   

Of the many radical things said and done by Jesus, his unflinching emphasis on love was most radical of all. Love was the greatest commandment, … his prime directive—love for God, for self, for neighbor, for stranger, for alien, for outsider, for outcast, and even for enemy, as he himself modeled. The new commandment of love [John 13:34] meant that neither beliefs nor words, neither taboos, systems, structures nor the labels that enshrined them mattered most. Love decentered everything else; love relativized everything else; love took priority over everything else—everything. [1]  

Theologian Norman Wirzba finds inspiration in the story of Óscar Romero’s conversion to deeper love:   

What love requires from us and how our hearts need to be transformed are movingly illustrated in the life of Oscar Romero [1917–1980], the former archbishop of San Salvador. Romero came to this realization about the personally transforming nature of love in a profound but costly way…. In his role as priest and then bishop, he assumed that the ways of God were in fairly close alignment with the priorities of the Roman [Catholic] magisterium and the Salvadoran government. For him, at this time, Jesus was not a revolutionary figure. Romero saw in Jesus someone who could be used to defend his country’s status quo….  

It was by opening himself to the love of God expressed by the common people that Romero found the courage to change and align himself with love. He decided to live in solidarity with the poor and learn from them the ways of love and the ways of God. Poor people, rather than professors, would now be his teachers….   

In the sermon just preached [minutes before his assassination], Romero had said that Christ’s gospel teaches that:  

One must not love oneself so much as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us, and that those who try to fend off the danger will lose their lives, while those who out of love for Christ give themselves to the service of others will live, like the grain of wheat that dies, but only apparently. If it did not die, it would remain alone. The harvest comes about only because it dies, allowing itself to be sacrificed in the earth and destroyed. Only by undoing itself does it produce the harvest [see John 12:24]. [2] 

As Romero had come to see, love does not allow people to flee or shield themselves from the pain or the troubles of this life. Genuine lovers move deeply into the life-and-death dramas of this world, like a plant that sinks roots deep into fertile soil, and there give themselves wholly to the flourishing of life. To withhold oneself from love is to withhold oneself from participating in a complete life.…  

Love is the outbound movement that trains people to heal injustice and kindly embrace the world. [3] 


[1] Brian D. McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian (New York: Convergent Books, 2016), 42. 

[2] Óscar Romero, homily, March 24, 1980, in Voice of the Voiceless: The Four Pastoral Letters and Other Statements, by Óscar Romero, trans. Michael J. Walsh, anniversary ed. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1985, 2020), 209–210. 

[3] Norman Wirzba, Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity (New York: HarperOne, 2016), 4–5, 6, 7.  

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 6. Jenna Keiper, Taos Snow. Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 2. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.  

Like ever-changing light in snow, we open to surprises on the way of Jesus. 

Story from Our Community:

I came to prayer and spirituality after a difficult time in my life. At first, the process of prayer was awkward and foreign to me, but I kept at it. Not clear what direction to take, each morning, I prayed for God to show me the way. One morning, I awoke from a dream with Philippians 2:5 stuck in my mind. Not being a Bible reader, I had no idea what it meant. I found a Bible and read the passage—the message was quite clear: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” I was struck by the profundity of the message. Since then, one day at a time, I have tried to honor it by reading the Daily Meditations and engaging in a practice of contemplation. I’ve found myself changed in a wonderful way.Terry L.  

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