Adversity calls forth, perfects, improves…and proves…the presence of virtue in our lives.
For example, I might think myself physically strong, but until I successfully lift something significantly heavy, I’m not convinced or sure that I really am strong. Or, I might think I’m a pretty good golfer, but when my scores are consistently higher than 110, I’m not really a good golfer, am I? And I might think I’m courageous, but unless courage is called forth from me, I really can’t say for sure that I really am courageous. Get it? Adversity presents opportunities that can demonstrate, and prove, the reality and authentic presence of virtue.
Well, today our Scripture readings are encouraging us to appreciate, understand and adopt the virtue of love. “Love one another” is our Master’s directive. So what is this “love”? Here’s a pretty good definition: LOVE IS “desiring the Good for the other without counting the cost to one’s self.” Yes, Love is a movement of my interior being which longs for another/others to be God-like, no matter how hard it is for me to assist them in accomplishing this holiness or goodness.
A few caveats: first, I know that I love lots of various people throughout my everyday life, and I’m also aware of their love for me, but that’s easy–there’s no challenge really to love those who love us, is there? Second, consider how we love when it’s not easy; when it’s dangerous, painful, costly, uncomfortably, etc. What about when someone really and truly hates you? What if someone gossips about you? What if someone tells a hurtful thing about you–whether true or not–to others in order to harm you? What if someone hates you so deeply that they avoid all contact or interaction with you? Now THAT’s adversity! And that’s when love is proven and perfected in us.
As I grow a bit older, I have been blessed with a few opportunities to experience such instances of adversity and I’ve finally been able to love. How? Clearly not by my own inner strength or core goodness…it’s just too hard. But, realizing (and depending on) Christ’s ongoing forgiveness of my sins, my faults, my limitations…and grateful for His love, I am then able to share what I already possess: Christ’s love.
Yes, His command is that we love one another…”as I have loved you”. Here’s the challenge: when adversity strikes, am I able to truly love as Christ loves? If so, thank the Good Lord! If not, this is our invitation to accept–AND SHARE–the love Christ has for each and every one!