As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.
"This I command you: love one another."
As Kevin and I read this gospel with our children, they kept looking at us not understanding what Jesus meant. In a nutshell, Kevin told them Jesus is telling us we as friends, brothers, sisters should love one another. Yes, but, how do we show love to each other? How about this, I told them. How about by focusing on the good things of each other. Not the negatives. Use your judgment before saying anything. Like this: “Is it good? Is it true? Do you really need to say it?”. One of our children replied: “Oooh, they taught us something like that at school: verum, bonum, et pulchrum.” OK, I asked them, as Catholics, how do you apply these to your lives? After a few blank stares, I told them try this: Before speaking to someone, think, you are about to tell your friend that Freddy picks his boogers. If you stop for a minute, you will see if this is true (probably yes). Is it good you say it? Not really, it will hurt his reputation. Is it necessary? Not really, it would be just a way to make fun of another person. Was there beauty or love after that conversation: negatory!
We continued: if you are in a situation where there is hurtful gossip about a person, don’t follow it. Change the conversation or come up with a distraction like: “let’s go shoot some hoops”. Or if your siblings are doing something that bothered you, think about what you are trying to say before coming to us (parents) and accusing each other. Are you tattle telling just to get your sibling in trouble? Or did they hurt you and need our help?
In a family circle we show love in physical ways: by caring for each other, by making sure food is on the table, or at least in the fridge. Doing and folding laundry. Even feeding and caring for pets. But the sins of the tongue are so common, so hurtful, and so easy to commit that we forget the detraction they cause, and the pain we inflict in those so close to us.
So, since Lent this has been our goal: to show our love for each other by refraining (or trying as much as possible), not to say bad things of each other, or of others. This is an uphill battle, but with the help and example of the Holy Family, we hope that at the end, our legacy will be: LOVE.