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Center for Action and Contemplation

Disciples: Those Who Love Others

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Love Summary for the Year: Week 1

Disciples: Those Who Love Others
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. And I’m giving you a new commandment so you’ll know where I am, and who I am: You must love one another. —John 13:33-35 [1]

Brothers sisters, it’s not really what we do that matters; it’s the energy with which we do it. To be in love is to be standing in a different space. Love is not what you do; it’s how you do it. It’s obvious who’s in love and who isn’t. When you stand in the state of love that Jesus offers, you live inside of a different energy. You’re not entirely self-preoccupied. You try to care for the world. You say, “I have one life and when I leave here, I want to make sure this world is a little better because I was here.” What might happen if we woke up each day with this intention: “How can my existence on this earth increase the quality of life on this planet?”

Jesus says, “I’ll be with you only a little while longer. So I’m going to leave a sign that I’m still here. I’m going to reveal myself in the presence of loving people.” That’s the only way anyone can know God. If you’ve never let anyone love you, if you’ve never let love flow through you—gratuitously, generously, undeservedly—toward other people, you can’t possibly know who God is. God is just a theory or abstraction. But “God is love” (1 John 4:8). And those who live in love live in God and know God experientially. There’s no other way you can know who God is, and who you are, but to love (Genesis 1:26-27). Take that as an absolute!

God is not saying, “I demand this of you.” Rather, God is saying, “I invite you into this mystery of who you already are in me.” Love is not something you decide to do now and then. Love is who you are! Your basic, foundational existence—created in the image of the Trinity—is love. Remember, Trinity is saying that God is not an isolated divine being; God is a quality of relationship itself, an event of communion, an infinite flow of outpouring. God is an action more than a substance, to put it succinctly.

Love, like forgiveness, is a decision. It’s a decision in your mind and in your heart. And you’d better make it early in the day, because once you’re a few hours into resentment, it’s too late. Already you’re angry at your husband or wife, and you’re upset because the paper boy didn’t deliver your newspaper. You see, when you’re not in love, you’ll use any excuse you can to be unhappy. You’ll use any excuse to be irritated. But you were unhappy before your husband or wife did anything or didn’t do anything, before the paperboy came or didn’t come. You were already unhappy, and they just occasioned it. The exact object for your unhappiness is actually arbitrary and illogical. Unhappiness just needs an object—and so does happiness and love. You have to recognize ahead of time when you are not living in love. This is surely why morning prayer is so important.

Gateway to Silence:
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.

[1] John 13:33-35, Richard Rohr paraphrase.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Love Is Not What as Much as How,” homily, April 24, 2016,

Image credit: Fatzael Springs and ancient and modern water system in Fatzael Valley in the west side of Jordan Valley (detail). Photograph by Hanay.
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