Today once again Jesus invites us to be perfect - complete like God - with no gaps in our loving. And when we hear him say, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” we realize he is inviting us to be as compassionate as he will be on the cross. Our initial shudder at such a daunting invitation softens as we understand that his call is to a place of real freedom, the freedom to love because we know ourselves truly loved and beloved of God, beloved of our Father, just as Jesus himself is.
Understanding himself as so beloved, Jesus can lovingly, courageously, even joyfully suffer the shame and horror of his passion and cross. He freely goes down to this lowest, most painful place out of love. And his experience as victim of his passion is not a place where he gets stuck. He neither curses his oppressors nor relishes his victimhood. He forgives the perpetrators of his own execution. He is perfectly free to suffer, free to suffer because he knows it does not define him; it’s not his truth.
We too can afford to love as God loves; Jesus shows us our hearts are big enough. Our love can be perfect and complete because we are beloved like him. He empowers us to be lovingly vulnerable with him, in him.
Photograph by Brother Brian.