To Love Outside of the Box

by Susanna Mak
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18

1 Corinthians 3:16-23

Matthew 5:38-48

This week’s readings lead us to the heart of our faith: the imperative of love above everything else. We are called to go the extra mile without complaints, to love without conditions, and to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

Those are some tall orders! Let’s be real. How many of us have had the urge to return crude words or gestures to reckless drivers cutting dangerously close to our vehicle? Or considering retaliation against a rude or unreasonable colleague at work?

Indeed, our love for one another needs to be as deep and wide as God’s love for us. That’s easier said than done, right? Every time I reflect on this central teaching of our faith, I can’t help but feel discouraged. How could I, an imperfect mortal, be as “holy” and as “perfect” as our Heavenly Father is holy and perfect? Fortunately, we are given a roadmap and a role model to light our journey. We must be willing to go the extra mile; to push the boundaries and love outside of the box.

In Leviticus, Moses instructs the Israelites to be holy, neighbourly and kind, but honest, to their own “kin”. For instance, one must not “take vengeance” nor “bear a grudge” against each other (Lv 19:18). One needs to be honest with their neighbours and “reprove” them where necessary. Most notably, at the heart of Moses’ instructions is “love your neighbour as yourself” (Lv 19:18).

While Leviticus teaches us not to hate but love our kin as ourselves, Jesus boldly pushes the boundaries much further. In fact, Jesus demands a paradigm shift of our understanding of love. We are asked not only to love those who love us but also those whom we deem unlovable or difficult to love; even our rivals and those who bear hate against us (Ref Mt 5:46). Jesus reveals to us through his own humble life that love must be boundless and unconditional: “turn the other cheek”; “give your cloak as well”; “go also the second mile”; “give to everyone”; “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:39-44).

What if we fail to love today, tomorrow, or next week? Let’s not be dismayed for our Lord is “merciful and gracious” (Ps 103:8). As long as we remain open to God’s love and let this love run its course in our life; as long as we keep getting up when we stumble; as long as we keep pushing the boundaries as Christ has done; and most of all, as long as we strive to love outside of the box, we are on the right path. Know that Christ walks with us along this journey.

Don’t forget:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
(Samuel Beckett)