“Owe no debt to anyone, except the debt that binds us to love one another. He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. Love never wrongs the neighbor, hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 13:8, 10
The above reading from Romans comes to us in the Liturgy of the Hours during Mid-day prayer this morning. It is a helpful reminder for us as we continue throughout our day to ask ourselves if we have loved the other as other. Love in its truest form always takes us outside of ourselves to see the other as no longer other, but as someone we have come to know and see Christ in.
A few days ago (Friday, I think.) we heard from the book of Ruth where Naomi has reminded Ruth that she is not bound to stay and care for her. Ruth in turn says to Naomi:
“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.…” – Ruth 1:16
Ruth shows us that even though she is not bound to Naomi’s family anymore that it is important to welcome the foreigner, the stranger. “You people shall be my people, and your God, my God…”
So, the question remains; How are you?; How am I?; loving today? Am I searching for Christ in those that I meet? In the stranger? In the new seminarian I meet walking down the hall? Am I welcoming? Do I extend some form of hospitality to them?
Now, this is all fine and dandy, but practically, how does it apply to my life? How do I recognize the presence of Christ in another?
“Were not our hears burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32
Luke reminds us in The Emmaus story, of Christ’s presence present in those small moments, but also in those chance encounters. Let us not look past another, because of what they wear, who we think they are, how they sound, but let us listen with the help of the Spirit to the voice deep inside of Christ, burning within our hearts and calling us to love those that we encounter just as much as we love ourselves!
“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.” – St. Augustine of Hippo
St. Augustine, who’s Feast we celebrate today recognizes that incredible power that comes about from listening and casting ourselves onto and into the Heart of the one who loves much. We were made to love like Christ. We were made to allow our hearts to rest in Him, in the one for whom they burn.
So, I ask us to consider again: How have I loved today? Do I need to start again? Do I need to seek forgiveness? How can I love more like Christ? Christ came to fulfill the law, and the way he did that was through his message of love and mercy. How can I love someone else as passionately, as personally, as whole-heartedly as Christ loves me, as he loves you?
St. John of the Cross reminds us that “at the end of our lives we shall all be judged by Charity.” We shall each be judged by how we loved. How will you love today?