Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jesus, It's Hard To Love You

"Jesus, do you know how hard it is to love you?"
Those words, Lord, are Dorothy Day's,
but that sentiment is mine too!
"How hard it is to love you."

It was a rough day at the Catholic Worker House.
Dorothy had dealt with a litany of problems --
breaking up fights among her "guests,"
preparing enough food to feed them,
trying to rid the house of lice,
welcoming another alcoholic who returned her kindness
by throwing up on her shoes.

It was a rough day at the Catholic Worker House.
And when evening came, when finally she found some quiet time
to pray, to bring her troubles before you,
her usual calm and patience gave way,
and from her troubled heart and anxious soul, Lord,
came those most honest words,
"Jesus, do you know how hard it is to love you?"

Dorothy knew:
you measure our love for you by our love for others:
"Truly I tell you,
just as you did it to the least of these
who are members of my family,
you did to me."

The Beloved Disciple put it boldly:
"Those who say, 'I love God,"
and hate their brothers and sisters, are liars;
for those who do not love a brother or sister
whom they have seen,
cannot love God
whom they have not seen."

I come to the conclusion, Lord,
that love for my neighbor
is the horizontal bar in the cross.

You just won't allow a "me and Jesus relationship."
It would be so much easier,
so much neater, so much more focused --
a vertical relationship,
a stairway to heaven,
peaceful, holier, so very consoling!
But "No!" --you won't allow it.
You insist on bringing other people into the equation.

I can understand why the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre said,
"Hell is other people."
I know what Lucy Van Pelt meant:
"I love humanity; it's people I can't stand."
I feel the same as Dorothy Day:
"Jesus, do you know how hard it is to love you?"

The two great commandments:
"Love God and love your neighbor"
allow no separation.
You can't do the first without the second.

When I have to deal with somebody I don't like,
when a stranger causes me inconvenience,
when someone dear to me gets on my nerves,
I have to remember:
God loves that person,
and so must I.

If Dorothy found it hard to love you, Lord,
at least she never stopped trying.
She never stopped looking for you in the face of others.
She never gave up because your image stunk
or was drunk or mentally ill.
She never quit trying to love you
no matter how hard it was.

What welcome she must have had in heaven,
when she was met by all those marginal,
rejected, and forgotten reflections of yourself.

All the time she had been entertaining angels,
and never knew.

Jesus, how hard it is to love you!

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