Yesterday, my priest gave a beautiful sermon on love. It was relevant to so many things going on in the world: the Synod, which will decide whether the Anglican Church in Canada will allow same-sex marriage, and the greater tragedies that befell the United States and elsewhere recently.
Our world is full of so much violence and hate right now. Brother is turning on brother due to political turmoil, religious differences, deep divisions, and a media that loves to whip everyone up into a frenzy. It almost seems like it doesn’t matter anymore whether things reported are true; it only matters if they will elicit an outraged response. This is deeply disturbing to me to watch.
The sermon followed a reading which had to do with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Essentially, this parable calls to us to behave mercifully and with kindness towards those we come across, no matter their circumstances. There are no exceptions. Jesus was explicit when he said that we are called to love one another. No addenda, no “but only if…”, no “only if you agree”. We must love one another, and behave charitably. This is our calling as Christians.
This is sometimes hard to do, of course, particularly if others behave violently or aggressively towards us in the face of our love. This doesn’t mean, however, that we suddenly stop doing as we are called and move on. Being a Christian isn’t about doing what is easiest; it is about loving God, following his Word, and doing what is right. We are so fortunate to have things like Scripture to help guide us and teach us, and help us navigate a world that is very different from the one in the Bible.
Some of the lessons Jesus left us with, though, require no interpretation. There is no need for a canon lawyer to help us figure out what is meant by “love thy neighbour”. It is as clear as the water on a bright, sunny day. It is there in black and white for us to see, and to know in our hearts. The commandment is to love. The commandment is simply to love one another and to offer our comfort and aid in the darkest of times. No matter how troubled the world becomes – no matter how violently we are treated – we must offer our love.
Even if you do not agree. Even if what they do makes you angry. Even if – anything. We must not resort to violence. We must not resort to aggression. We must be even as Christ was to the thief on the cross, offering love and charity and hope. Our calling is to Christ and to God, and that calling, with no exceptions, is to love.