|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Love one another as I have loved you.”
Three years ago, I had the great honor of presiding at the funeral of my own Mother. It was a wonderful occasion for us to celebrate the long, happy life of our Mother. All twelve of the children were able to come back and be there.
It was a great celebration of her life and of our love and respect for her. There were a couple of special moments but the funeral recession from Church stands out. As priest I led the casket out and I was the youngest, and my eldest brother with my two sisters were at the back of the casket; then my eight other brothers, four on either side, carried Mom on their shoulders.
It was a very powerful moment as all 12 children surrounded their Mother and walked her out of the church bound together in love. A beautiful moment of unity of love and of respect for my Mother for the many years of having given her life to us in service.
Someone asked afterwards, “Which of your children did she love the most?” My brother reminded us all that she would often say to such a question, “Whichever one needs it.” That summed up mother’s life, she loved whoever needed it the most.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “Love one another as I have loved you.” I believe God does the same thing! God loves us all equally. He doesn’t love anyone less. Right? But he does love those who are hurting maybe a little more; those who have pain and have struggled and maybe even have had a loss themselves in their life. He loves those a little bit more because they need it a little bit more.
We are called to mirror that love in our own lives. We are called to love like that. That is the challenge for us because often times those people in our lives who are hurting push us away and they do not allow us to love them. We have to continue to love them even at a distance. We communicate as best we can that we continue to love them and nothing has changed.
We have to ask ourselves this: Who in our lives today needs just that extra bit of love because they are hurting; because they have a wound or because something has happened to them? And if we are the one in that position, can we allow those around us to love us even though we are feeling maybe a little bit unlovable? Can we allow them the privilege to love us just a little bit more; especially in this moment when we are most vulnerable? That is where the grace of God comes in.
God, too, loves us all. And if there is an unequal portion, it is saved for those who are most in need. Who, today, in our life needs the love the most? And can we love them as Jesus commanded: “Love one another as I have loved you.”