This homily is based on John 13:31-35.
Today our Lord gives us a deceptively simple commandment: “Love one another.” It’s deceptive because it’s not simple to love others. Don’t get me wrong: It’s easy to love someone when you’re in a good mood–or when it feels good to be loving, or when the person is lovable. But think of the Lord’s commandment at the end of a long exhausting day, and the person before you can’t tell–or doesn’t care–that you’re tired and this close to losing it.
In case you haven’t heard the rumor, love isn’t a feeling; it’s hard work! And by “hard,” I don’t just mean it requires a lot of effort, but also that it’s difficult!
The other day I came across an American Buddhist author, Sylvia Boorstein, who was suggesting ways of keeping your cool. Equanimity, as you know, is big among Buddhists. To give us an idea about what it may look like, she offered a metaphor that was so refreshing and so provocative it literally made me stop in my tracks. That metaphor could very well apply to love.
According to her, she was struck by how every time that she was driving and, for whatever reason, lost her way, every time that she, even for any number of times, missed a turn or made the wrong turn, her GPS, like every other GPS, would–always and without fail–simply declare, “Recalculating” and–without any change in its tone–offer her new directions.
How different from us human beings! Most of us would at least eventually show some hint of impatience or annoyance–or even lose our cool completely. We can certainly learn about equanimity from–of all things–our GPS.
But our GPS can also teach us what it means to love. To love others means putting up with their mistakes, even their sins–and doing so without throwing up our hands in exasperation or anger. But just as importantly, loving another entails recalculating: the willingness to adjust and–as calmly as we can!–to give the other person who’s lost his or her way for the nth time yet another second chance.
Today our Lord invites us to ask ourselves whether or not we are able or willing to love one another. My suggestion is simply to ask yourself: Is your GPS more loving than you?