“My vocation is love! In the heart of the Church I will be love. So I shall be everything and so my dreams will be fulfilled – to make Love loved.”
Therese of Lisieux
To “be” love has been my own cherished vocation of late. Having been humbled – laid low by a long desert season – I have come to realize that my sole purpose as one of God’s redeemed is to love others.
It has been my vocation all along in my life as a Christ follower – only I didn’t truly know it until now. Throughout my walk with Him whenever I seek Jesus’ help – or sympathy – in a situation where someone has hurt or misjudged or betrayed me, the answer He never fails to give is: “Love her.” “Love him.”
Being called to love or choosing love as your vocation seems way too easy from a human perspective. It sounds like a brilliant excuse for shirking the difficult and sometimes menial work of doing ministry and helping others. But in truth, to embody love is the most arduous and difficult path one can choose.
On the night before He died, Jesus said many things to His disciples. He knew he only had a few hours left so He tried to instill in them the things He knew they would need to remember. Things that would encourage and carry them through the trials and troubles they would face as they continued the work He had begun without Him. He gave them only one command:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”John 13:3
“As I have loved you...”? Like I said, loving others seems easy from our limited human perspective, but to be called to love others in the same way that Jesus has loved us is beyond our human capability! I struggle to do it on a daily basis and the struggle can be intense some days. The Oxford Dictionary defines struggle (verb) this way: (to) make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction.
Surely Jesus, having spent thirty three years among us, knows how difficult it is for we humans to love one another the way He has loved us? So why would He give us such a command? The answer lies in John Chapter 14.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…the Helper, the Holy Spirit…He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”John 14:15-17;26
Though we may battle selfishness and pride as we attempt to obey Jesus’ commandment to love, we have been provided with a true and infallible Helper. The Holy Spirit convicts us when we’re wrong and teaches us what is right. He guides us into all truth, and reminds us of all that Jesus has said.
And rather than being a good excuse for shirking the work and responsibilities involved in sharing the Message of Love we have been entrusted with, loving others as Jesus has called us to do requires so much more from us. It requires laying down our very lives: offering up our precious time and doing whatever humiliating task is required to demonstrate the love of Jesus. We may even face ridicule, hatred and persecution from the very ones we’re called to love.
We should never seek to build ourselves up or show the world how kind and loving we are. No! We are called to be a physical demonstration, a true representation of His selfless, self-sacrificing, and abiding love. Perhaps no one will ever see or acknowledge or appreciate the sacrifices we make as we endeavour to love as Jesus loved, but we will count it all joy if we truly know and love the One we are serving. The one Who alone sees all that we do in secret.
The One who calls us to this ministry of love knew rejection and hatred and humiliation. He too was misunderstood and unappreciated; reviled for His radical teachings. And He is fully aware of the personal cost that selflessly loving others requires of us. It was out of love that He endured a torturous death to set us free from the tyranny of sin and pain – once, and for every person who has ever lived or will ever live on this planet. Our sufferings can never compare to His.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
His love and the freedom He died to give us are freely available to all. Jesus isn’t seeking those who have it all together. He came to set sinners free. He loves you, no matter who you are or what you have done. He is only waiting for you to seek Him and invite Him to come in and make His home in you.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”John 14:21
Note: If you would like to learn more about Saint Therese of Lisieux, the “little flower of Jesus” who lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love and humility, go to: https://www.littleflower.org/therese/