October 31, 2021: Love

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost


Jesus distilled the Bible into two commandments: love God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself. Everything else is built upon these two foundations. Loving your neighbor means there is no “us” and “them,” only “us.” We approach everyone with reverence and respect. If there’s disagreement, we talk it over until we discover what neither of us understood before. The other half of this is that we love ourselves, for if we are not at peace with ourselves, we will take our unrest out on others.

Micah 6:8 echoes Jesus’ words and says what is required. Seeking justice is standing up with courage when a wrong is being done. Loving-kindness is looking first to see if others need help. Walking humbly means setting aside our pride, our need to be in control, and listening to God for direction.

Love is a river that ceases to exist when it’s not flowing. We do not possess love, as if it were a thing to be stored on the shelf and admired. Love exists in caring for others. When we stop caring, love disappears. Love is gentle and reckless; it is the syntax and lexicon of God. Love ends the night of separation and opens our hearts to the dawn of wonder.

Love is sitting on a park bench with someone who is hurting and helping them bear its weight. Love holds the sacred before us and shows us who we can become. Love tunes the strings of our hearts to the vibrations of God. Love is a fire that burns our ego into ashes, and releases compassion from our hesitation. Love is a chrysalis that transforms.

Love is an act of being, and becoming.

Mark Liebenow, Peoria, Illinois