Love Is Necessary

It’s still dark outside, early Monday morning, and I’ve just read today’s gospel. Jesus once again performs a healing miracle on the sabbath, for a woman who has been crippled and unable to straighten her back for 18 years. Once again, the synagogue leader is outraged that the Lord is “working” on the Sabbath, and once again, He sets him straight:

Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?  This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?

Luke 13:15-16

I close my eyes to reflect: He’s telling them they take time to certain things, even on the Sabbath. They do what they need to do so their animals don’t die. They do what is necessary—but they won’t help this woman. They won’t love this woman, so He calls them hypocrites.

What is He telling them? What is He telling me?

Love IS necessary.

In our current culture, we are less inclined to strictly observe the Lord’s Day by resting from work. But might we abstain from love?

I have driven past countless breakdowns because it’s not safe or I don’t have time, even though my family and I have all benefitted from the kindness of strangers who have stopped to help us. I have hustled out of sight of a talkative acquaintance to avoid losing half an hour of my day. I have snapped “In a minute!” at my wife, kids, and parents over the years, at times just for intruding on my unspoken (and often unimportant) thoughts.

I take time to eat, to sleep, to pray, and to feed my dog. I take time to work, to read, to brew beer, and to obsess over the next whatever that has captured by interest this week. But, Sabbath or not, I don’t take time to love.

This is not to say I never make time to love, only that it is infrequent enough that I feel like it warrants an attaboy when it happens: Did y’all see that? I did a good thing right there! Felt good, too—did you see?

When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’

Luke 17:10

We are obliged to love.

What’s been on my heart in prayer the past few weeks is the lack of urgency in my discipleship. Like so many people, I feels there’s not enough time in the day, so I rush around doing everything except the one thing Jesus never failed to do: loving God and neighbor.

Everything feels urgent except choosing the good for the other. The other can wait.

O Lord, continue to stretch my heart, even though it hurts. Continue to show me where I fail to love and strengthen my will to love in each moment, in firm confidence whatever I sacrifice for You will be resupplied in superabundance. Amen.

* * * * *

This post appeared as a column in the October 31, 2021, bulletin of St. Michael Catholic Church.

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