Until you don’t reciprocate – Except those who hurt me – Unless you betray me

We don’t hear any of those exceptions to the call of Jesus in this Gospel with what is called the greatest commandment – the commandment of Love. Jesus is pretty straight-forward, direct, and unconditional: Love one another as I love you.

When we’re the beneficiaries of this extravagant love – we’re bowled over by the radical generosity of it. Our hurtful actions, betrayals, our lack of reciprocity don’t exclude us from the loving gaze of Christ. If anything, they call out even greater love, more selflessness and sacrifice from Jesus.   It’s easy to love those who do loving things. Being merciful? looking past the painful actions? offering forgiveness? – that’s when love can be described as hard labor.

Implicit on Jesus’ end, is that we’re to engage in that hard work as well. Which is one of the greatest stumbling blocks for followers of Jesus. We often not only fail in execution, but even in our willingness to engage in the possibility. When someone fails to live up to my expectations, when for whatever reason I deem them unworthy – there’s this internal response that has me distancing from the other. Perhaps it’s a self-defense move, trying to protect myself from greater hurt… Whatever the reason, Jesus keeps calling us to keep trying, to keep open, to even simply pray for that desire to try to love as He does. Because when we are able to do that, then even more amazingly, we become more Christ life, we become His hands and feet, we make real his real presence. It is possible. But not without that pivotal, crucial first step… when we love – without exception.