Some thoughts for the 32nd anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero:
It is a strange thing – being commanded to love. For it seems that loving so as to fulfill a commandment is not loving at all, but submission to a rule. Rather, this greatest of all commandments is only fulfilled when we love regardless of this law. And the words of this good news open us to the heart of Christian life.
Such a paradoxical commandment invites us to accept neither moral legalism nor a measure of what might be enough to merit salvation, but to recognize a description of the new life we find in Christ. Transforming and contextualizing our relationships with everything else, love is not merely a means to a greater end in the Kingdom of God. A love that serves as a type of eternal retirement account, aimed toward securing a heavenly future for ourselves is hardly love at all – and certainly not the love given to, thus commanded of, us in the self-emptying of the Cross. Such meager salvation is not the end of the Christian life, something to achieve through virtuous faith or just action. Rather, the love to, and by, which we are called so devotes us to God and neighbor that we become essentially defined by that love, rather than by our desire for any other good. Love frees us from petrifying fears of sacrifice, rendering all meaning and value relative to this decisive gift of self to God and neighbor.
Love saves us from absorption in self-preservation and the vain attempt to secure such an empty promise. Never a matter of mere security at all, the only promise to speak of is that of uncalculating love – that this way of proceeding is, by its very nature, the beginning of the Kingdom, itself simply another word for complete saturation by the love of God.
*This post was originally part of Georgetown University’s 2011 Lenten reflection booklet “Finding Our Way Home.”