I think a lot of the time we put limits on ourselves. Whether it is in our prayer life, in our personal life, sports, hobbies, whatever it is that we’re passionate about or that we love… We hit a wall, or get comfortable and we stop. But why? One thing that that I have noticed this year is a calling to greater love. To not stop striving for love in every area of our lives because it can be hard. Love can be scary. Sometimes I think it is something that only God is capable of, so why try? Or we may become content with how we are being treated, or how we love others. We finally get comfortable in our prayer lives, or maybe we finally start to feel like we’re getting somewhere with Jesus, but there might be a part of us that we are holding back. This desire for love is always present, just beneath the surface. In fact, St. John Paul II says:
“A young heart feels a desire for greater generosity, more commitment, greater love. This desire for more is a characteristic of youth; a heart that is in love does not calculate, it does not begrudge, it wants to give of itself without measure… there is no place for selfishness— and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice… Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not tell you so. Love demands a personal commitment to the will of God.”
It is impossible to love without God as the center of our love. We first must let Him love us in order for us to love others. This all starts by letting Him serve us, just as He did the disciples. In John 13:5, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. And we, at many times, are much like Peter in this situation! If Peter wanted to have anything further to do with Jesus, he had to let Jesus serve him first. He had to let Jesus wash his feet. Peter always took a position of strength and ability, but here Jesus was telling Peter that it was time to let someone else wash his feet rather than being the one to do the washing. It was time to be served, not to serve. It can be just as hard for us to be in this position. We often times try to conjure up strength from somewhere deep inside of us to love, to persevere, and to continue in our daily lives, not realizing that it would be so much easier to draw strength from the God of perfect love. Jesus was quite literally saying to Peter, if you don’t let me wash your feet, you won’t know what it’s like to have me in your life. If you want to serve my people, you have to let me serve you first.
In order for us to love, we must first be loved. This love from Jesus demanded sacrifice, and perfect commitment to the will of God, so too must we not be afraid of loving like Jesus.