Today is mental health Sunday. This is a good moment for us to not turn away, but to acknowledge that we have a big mental health crisis. Brought on by so many factors, that perhaps is not our job to sort and fix (unless, of course, it is), but it is our work to acknowledge it. Acknowledging is to remind us that our greatest work is to support one another. To be, as Theresa says, God’s love and compassion in the world.
Healing, true deep healing, starts and ends with love, just love. When there is only love, all anger and fear falls away. When all anger and fear falls away, there is only love in the Stillness that is left. Just Love.
As we read scripture, there is an opportunity for us to put ourselves in the story and consider. Consider what was important and what is important. Here, Jesus gives one final commandment: to love one another. This is, at the last, the most important thing. The thing Jesus is most worried about, the thing that will continue his rippling legacy into the world and its future. He would not have to give this final comment if he wasn’t afraid that he would leave the world and love would be lost.
And we see, where that love has been lost for being right, for power, for control, that he was right to worry. He was right to worry because it’s not easy. In fact, love is downright hard! Especially when we’re living in and being present in the world. If we’re honest, it’s downright hard to love when we’re alone. How many of us struggle to love ourselves? PAUSE.
We tend toward arguments and division. It’s in some ways a primal response and it’s actually an easier response to meet aggression with aggression and get rid of those who are different or opposing. It might not be to “take out” those others, but to walk away from the loving and the hard work. And we tell ourselves: they aren’t deserving of love or it’s not my fault. It’s much easier to move on, make our own groups with like-minded individuals, than it is to dig in and work despite and through our differences. To connect and to … meet with love.
It’s easier to judge, walk away, and divide. To disconnect. We see it all throughout history. We see it in this moment.
Jesus knows this. That’s why the last commandment is to love. To love one another.
Because when we don’t love, things fracture. We see this in the history of the Church. We see this in the history of the world. We see this in this moment.
It’s why one of the greatest works of this time is to work interdenominationally and as interfaiths and as diverse human beings. Focusing first on what connects us, what is the same in us, and not on what divides us and make us different. The focus is back to love. Always.
Love one another creates connection and belonging. Belonging. We don’t have to always agree, but when our instinct (training) is toward love and not judgement or fear, we can come together despite our differences and actually become stronger for it.
Love requires learning to listen. Not running away when it’s gets tough. Not deepening the separation and divides, because in everything there is a commonality, if we choose to find it. Starting from connection, not from our fighting corners…
Love is the most important thing we can give to one another. I would argue it is the most important thing we can give to ourselves.
Love. When we truly offer love, we make one another feel worthwhile. PAUSE. Worthwhile. Every horrible thing, or minor disagreement, can be better understood, solved, and grown from if met with love. Love is listening. What’s the story being the aggression and fear and judgment and anger that may have led to terrible decisions, terrible acts?
Love is being a listening presence. To create a space of Belonging. Love. Belonging. Worth listening to. It’s hard. Often we resist the hardest places of love because we are reminded of our own failings, our own mistakes, our own imperfections. Who wants to visit that? So we step away. When perhaps we, ourselves, need to step in. To listen and love one another. To listen and love…ourselves.
We can prove our discipleship, our practice, by bringing more love and compassion into the world. By making love our Great Work. To be God’s Hands in the world. After all, that is what it is to be like Jesus, to be like God’s Hands in this world. God meets the world with Love. God asks us to Love. Especially when it’s the most hard.
We know what hate does. PAUSE. We know what anger does. PAUSE. Division leads to loneliness. Meanness leads to desperation. Violence. War. We know what happens when we allow hate and anger and fear to control us…It’s not Good. Jesus knows this.
What does love do? Love connects us and that leads to belonging (not loneliness). Instead of desperation, we become worthwhile. We become a part of a bigger picture, a greater whole. We belong. We matter and what we do matters.
We know what can happen when we feel lonely and desperate and worthless…
What do worthwhile people do? They pass it on. Love. Simple kindnesses matter. And it matters in the small things we do. A bit of mean gossip ripples. A bit of kindness ripples. An angry word ripples. So does a gentle noticing. The key is simple: kindness in a world that can seem so big and scary and out of control and hopeless.
One little act of love can change a moment.
That little act can change a day.
One little act of listening, of seeing, of loving, of making someone feel noticed and worthwhile can save a life…or lives. We never truly know the extent of the ripples….PAUSE.
Love is not weak.
Love takes courage. Love is doing God’s Work.
Love is the one thing that is asked of us. Love is the one thing we need most.