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The Reality of Love


A Deeper Dive - Agust 12, 2023
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Read Scripture: Luke 10:25-37


There are few things as complex in our world as the reality of love. Whether young or old, it is often easier to talk about the idea of love than to practice it with the fullness of ourselves in present moments and over time. In our text, Jesus challenges the expert in the law to embrace a new ethic that sees love as the guiding principle for all questions of life. It is love that leads the faithful through any experience, and it is through the reality of love that life finds fulfillment. Every question in the search for understanding and pursuit of meaning, simple or profound, holds the promise of God’s love.


It is appropriate for us to define what we mean by love. Love, here, is understood as much more than a sentiment that warms the heart but a force that connects us to others—regardless of the differences we hold. Love is a gift and mystery that enables us to see the world as God’s good creation and our fellow humans as people of sacred worth, created in the Divine image. While we can read the parable of the Good Samaritan as a story about good actions toward neighbors, there is a more profound invitation that calls us to investigate not only ourselves but systems that strip dignity and worth from those who find themselves in need. As the great American lyricist, John Mayer so aptly put it, “Love ain't a thing. Love is a verb.”


When we properly understand the role of love in our lives, the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” moves from a matter of individual interest to one of communal consciousness. This shift in perspective moves us toward a mindset that acknowledges the interconnectedness of all humanity and dissuades the notion that all that matters is our solo journey to heaven. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”


It is crucial to recognize that the essence of love cannot be confined to the thoughts of our minds alone. The authentic measure of love lies in tangible actions, for these actions are the embodiment of our innermost selves. Jesus, being a masterful teacher, guides the legal expert toward this understanding. In the telling of this parable, the priest and the Levite may have possessed an intellectual understanding of their moral duty, but it was the Samaritan who showed love through his compassionate actions. Even if the others’ hearts were in the right place, as the common saying goes, it was not thoughts or feelings that manifested love, but actions as the essence of love within was given life in the Samaritan’s behavior.


How can we live our lives guided by an ethic of love, as demonstrated by Jesus? This is more than an intellectual question. It is a matter of profound significance for our lives today. When we take this question seriously, it compels us to translate our ideals into concrete deeds that shape us and the world around us. It beckons us to extend our hands to those who are suffering, to challenge the prevailing norms that perpetuate suffering, and to build a society founded on principles of justice, empathy, and compassion.


Just as the Samaritan saw a neighbor in the wounded stranger, we too are called to recognize the common humanity that unites us all. In a world brimming with complexities and disparities, it is love that has the potential to bridge the gaps, heal the wounds, and lead us toward a future where genuine human connection flourishes.


Good actions are indispensable, but they are only the beginning of the Kin-dom revolution. As Dr. King once said, “One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” Our work as people of faith is to share the love of God with others. This call invites us to go beyond single actions and embark on a transformative journey that reshapes the very structures that perpetuate suffering and inequality for all people.


In the grand symphony of life, good actions serve as the initial notes, but the melody of love resonates far beyond isolated deeds. Real love is like the theme of an unforgettable tune that comes to heart and mind anywhere and anytime. The call to embody the love of God, to uplift the marginalized, and to reshape unjust systems invites us to join in the symphony and contribute our unique timbre, the tone and feel of the sound, as we share in melodic harmony. This is the legacy of love that Jesus, the Good Samaritan, and countless other compassionate souls have left for us—a legacy that challenges us to be active participants in the transformation of our world. As we follow this call, may our actions become the harmonious chords of love, resonating through time and space, and paving the way toward a brighter, more inclusive future.


Questions:

  1. How do you personally define love? How does this understanding influence your interactions with others?

  2. Reflect on a time when you found it challenging to practice love in a real-world situation. What prevented you from fully embracing the ethic of love in that moment?

  3. Think about a time when you extended love to someone despite differences that might have otherwise divided you. How did this experience impact your understanding of our call to love our neighbors?

  4. Reflect on instances when you've encountered systems or situations that undermine the dignity and worth of those in need. How can love inspire you to address and transform these unjust structures?

  5. What does it mean for you to transition from viewing eternal life as an individual pursuit to recognizing its communal significance? How does this shift in perspective affect your daily decisions?

  6. Reflect on a specific area of your life or your community where you feel called to live out an ethic of love, as exemplified by Jesus. How might you begin to transform this intention into concrete actions to reshape the landscape around you?


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