The Love Is Within You
Have you ever witnessed someone do something incredibly kind for a complete stranger? I have seen this happen more than a few times in my life.
I once saw a guy seemingly risk his own life on a busy street chasing down papers that a woman had blown out of her hands. I also saw a bunch of surly-looking teenage boys, who ran like two blocks to help an old lady collect her dog, which had gotten off of his leash.
But sometimes the sacrifices that people make for perfect strangers are hard to explain.
During the height of the Holocaust, there were many brave people who risked their lives hiding Jewish families and saving them from certain death.
I also recall a recent story of a young black woman who threw herself over the body of a neo-Nazi at a protest in order to protect him from getting beaten by counter-protesters. She protected with her own body, a stranger who essentially hated her because of the color of her skin.
What makes us do these kinds of things? What makes us step out of ourselves and show kindness, mercy, and maybe even extreme largesse to someone we've never met?
According to Fr. Anthony de Mello, the reason why we do these kinds of things is quite simply because it is within us to do so. He writes:
In these and so many other moments, love came to the surface in your life signaling that it was already there within you, waiting to be released…
So why don't we live our lives exhibiting that kind of kindness all of the time? And does de Mello think that this kind of love really lives within all of us? It sure seems like it's unlikely for some folks, am I right?
This is what Fr. Anthony had to say about why we struggle with this, and why even the seemingly most intractable, incorrigible, unredeemable person has the potential for great love and mercy within them---just waiting to get out
How can you come to possess this kind of love? You cannot, because it is already there within you. All you have to do is remove the blocks you place to sensitivity and it would surface.
The reason why we have a difficult time showing kindness and grace on a consistent basis, and even to those who "spitefully use us," (as Jesus noted) is because we have so many blocks put in place to keep us from feeling... from empathizing... from loving.
God knows I have placed more than my fair share of blocks up in my own life. To put it bluntly, there are just some people that I don't want to love. I don't want to extend a hand of mercy to them... I kind of want to extend my hand and knock them down.
But if I am going to become the person that God longs for me to be---the person I am created to be--I need to begin to not only recognize the blocks for what they are but also to do everything I can to remove them so I can truly love as Jesus loved.
Think about all of the blocks that you may have placed around your heart. Maybe these blocks have kept you from loving others. Maybe... they have kept you from truly loving yourself.
It is within you to show that kind of love. It is within you to be the kind of person who is kind, grace-filled, merciful, sacrificial, and open-handed. That is who you really are. Live into that vision of yourself until it becomes a reality.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.