Who is the neighbor we must love, and how do we love them? Jesus answers with the parable of the Good Samaritan, a story about an outsider who sees someone in distress and stops to help. One of my seminary professors summed up the parable this way: “Love is a verb.” No one is beyond the ties of neighbor–and to love a neighbor is to actively work for their wellbeing.
If love is a verb, then maybe the love God asks of us is more action than emotion. We don’t need to feel a warm rush of affection for someone in order to love them. As Bonnie Raitt famously sang, “You can’t make the heart feel something it won’t.” We are, however, asked to pray and to work for others’ wholeness–and as we do so, we may find ourselves changed as well. Maybe this is why we are to love our neighbors as ourselves: as we love others, love finds us too.
This message is excerpted from the January 29, 2020, Cafe Faith Reflection “The Labor of Love,” by Meghan Johnston Aelabouni. Today is the Second Sunday of Christmas. Today we commemorate Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe, renewer of the church, 1872.
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