“I have given them the glory that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them, and you are in me, so that they may be completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.” John 17:22-23
This is from what is called the high priestly prayer of Jesus, a prayer which He prayed shortly before his death. It’s from the gospel of John, and reminds me of a story about the apostle. He lived to be very old, and it’s said that when he became unable to stand and preach, he would be carried into the church where his entire sermon was simply, “Little Children, love one another.” Love is the major theme in John’s writing, and in his life. He knew that as Christians, we are called to be one body, to love one another and to love others. That is what the world should see when they look at us.
However, John’s simple message is easier said than done. I’m currently reading the diaries of Dorothy Day, which I’ll probably finish and review later this month. Dorothy was a Catholic who started a number of “hospitality houses” for the needy and homeless. She welcomed and loved the kinds of people who were pretty unlovable — alcoholics, those who were mentally ill, some who were simply dirty and/or disagreeable. She was criticized by many in the church for her “extreme” methods. It was a constant struggle for her to love, yet she knew that was her calling as a child of God. Like the apostle, John, love was her theme.
We too must deal with people every day that we have trouble loving. Some are our neighbors! Some are our fellow church members! Some are family! Often people behave in ways that upset or annoy us. We feel used. We feel disrespected. Face it, we feel angry. We want to tell them off or walk away. However, the words of Scripture are clear. We are to love others. We are especially to seek unity in the church. We cannot allow our personal feelings to get the better of us. If we do, we’re disobeying the words of Christ.
So, here’s my point. Struggle, but don’t give up. Remember your own sins and how you have been forgiven. Let love be your theme.