Reflection for Wednesday, January 5, 2000: 2nd week in Christmas.
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We all know it. We say it to ourselves. We desire to live it. We hope others treat us this way, but it is so radical, radical, RADICAL. As 1 John 3:11 reminds us, "that we should love one another." Not such a bad reminder in the midst of the Christmas season. Not such a bad idea for starting the New Year.|I know I easily get trapped in the "human condition." I put conditions on this thing and the other thing. I would be able to love you if ... ..you loved me. If ... ..you weren't so annoying. If ... .you saw things my way. I hear myself thinking these things and want to scream, "What if others see you this way? Is that what you want?" "Well, of course not. So start being radical with that love." To be radical about something, Paulo Freire (Brazilian educational philosopher) writes, is to have "increased commitment to the position one has chosen, and thus ever greater engagement in the effort to transform concrete, objective reality" (Pedagogy of the Oppressed).|So, if we want to be radical about love, I guess that means for any one of us who claims Christianity as our source of inspiration, as our tradition, then our commitment to this stance must increase, AND we have to begin to be part of a greater transformation.|It makes such sense to me that this commitment to love must "increase." That tells me it must take place over time. It is not a one-time commitment that I can easily make and have for the rest of my life. That, of course, would be too easy. I, we, must all begin somewhere; in our homes, at work, with our friends, with a stranger, and then continue to struggle with loving the imperfections, the "humanity" of each person day after day. And I do believe over time, we will see an increase in our ability to love, and that will profoundly change our "concrete, objective reality," and surely the reality of those around us.|One story and then I'll be finished. There was this one little boy at the home where I worked at Boys Town, whom I will call Paul. He was not the neatest kid, by any means. He pushed every button I had, and knew it. (I think he secretly found great pleasure in that ... lil' brat). I had a very difficult time loving that kid. He did things I wouldn't write here, they were so bizarre. I could "deal" with the boy. I could "teach to his behaviors." I could do my job very well with Paul. I didn't try and love that kid. The other kids at the home all had some redeemable quality that allowed me to love them. Not Paul. The female family teacher used to frustrate me. She would just keep telling Paul that it really didn't concern her how he behaved, or treated her, she was still going to love him. Day after day, I would teach to his behaviors in the hopes of transforming him into a great guy who would leave and be productive in society. Cindy, on the other hand, would just love him and tell him so, and continue giving him that gift of something unconditional. I had an agenda for Paul. He needed some discipline. Cindy had an agenda, too. He needed to feel loved. If he never felt that love, he would never trust the work any of us did to make him a more integrated human being. We both probably did some good for Paul. I believe he learned more from Cindy and her loving stance, and how he felt when he knew that love was always there, than he did from the skills I taught him. I hope he remembers what she taught him. I think that love transformed Cindy, I hope it transformed Paul, and I know seeing that in action, transformed me. Having that radical primary stance, to love someone, is the beginning. The other things fall into place after that.|Let's all become radicals this year. Let's radically love one another. Let's not care so much about status, job, economic background, race, religion, sexual orientation, behaviors and all those things that we use to keep us from loving one another. Ask yourself, "How have I loved today?"
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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