A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Choosing to Love—Even When It’s Difficult

Posted on: August 19, 2013

At some point, we might find it hard to love someone. A spouse who puts work or hobbies ahead of family time. A teen who skips classes, smokes, drinks or does drugs. An ageing parent who needs care but who wasn’t the caring parent we needed growing up.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, other people will find us hard to love at some point because of our words or actions. And that’s when we most need them to love us.

As our priest pointed out in his homily yesterday, the prophet Jeremiah lived at a difficult time. The people of Judah were under siege from the Babylonians because they were disobeying God. Although the people reacted badly—imprisoning him and going so far as to throw him into a cistern (see Jeremiah 38:4-13)— Jeremiah kept warning God’s people of the consequences if they did not repent because he continued to love the people. Even when it was hard.

And as James reminds us in Hebrews 12:3*, “Consider him [Jesus] who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” People rejected Jesus in his hometown of Nazareth (see Luke 4:16-29); so did the scribes and Pharisees (see Luke 6:6-11). The priests, scribes and elders questioned his authority (see Luke 20:1-8). And the chief priests and scribes conspired to put Jesus to death (see Luke 22:1-6). But Jesus endured all this rejection and even suffered death on a cross because he loves us, despite the fact that we’re all sinners:

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10-11)

If we’re truly followers of Jesus, then we also need to love others, even when it’s hard. Even when our patience runs out, our feelings are hurt, or our trust is broken. We can call on God to guide us in showing that love—by having a heart-to-heart talk or even going to marriage counselling with our spouse, visiting with and providing care packages for our parent, or finding a counsellor for our teenaged child, for example—and to strengthen us in our choice to continue to love.

Someday, someone will have to choose to continue loving us. Even when it’s hard.

(*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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