“Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.” – Romans 12:9-10
More often than not I find that the words of Saint Paul smack me upside the head, and not always in a pleasant way (as if being smacked upside the head could be pleasant). In college I took a class called “Paul and His Letters” and absolutely fell in love with the writings of this great saint. It is no wonder, therefore, that his words play a huge part in the book I’ve been writing. If you put a gun to my head, I’m not sure I could pick my favorite letter of Saint Paul’s, but his letter to the Romans would certainly make the top 5.
This reading came up in my nightly prayers a few weeks ago at just the perfect time. “Let love be sincere” are four words that I’ve been meditating on ever since then. In fact, this is the reading (and further beyond it) that Archbishop Aquila chose for the reading at Vespers on the eve of his installation as Archbishop of Denver. Love isn’t something we just say, or a word we should just throw around all willy-nilly. Love should be sincere. In some translations this verse reads, “Love must be sincere,” which is far more commanding. There is no other option here: love must be sincere, it must take our whole hearts and change us, bringing us closer to the source of Love, otherwise it isn’t really love in the first place (and, oh how I wish the English language had more than one word for ‘love’). If we love then we love with all we are, period. We love because He calls us to love. We are invited and challenged to love as He loves, unconditionally and with no regard to whether or not we are being loved in return. Perhaps that is how we know if love is sincere or not, based on whether or not we are expecting a return. Love doesn’t demand or ask anything in return. It invites. It welcomes.
Think of God’s love: it doesn’t demand, it doesn’t dictate, it invites and welcomes us in. It is full of mercy and is constantly forgiving, and forgetting. He forgives and He lets it go, he doesn’t hold our past sins or our short comings over our heads. Even when we ignore God, when we refuse to acknowledge that He exists, He loves us still. His love remains, and it is this perfect love that we are called to imitate because His love is eternally sincere.
For today…that’s enough to chew on. Let your love be sincere. It is the challenge of a lifetime because it is going to take a lifetime. We are going to fail. We are going to get annoyed with people. We are going to get annoyed with ourselves, and probably with God. Ask Him to help you make your love sincere, but first ask Him to fill your heart with His perfectly sincere love.
What I’m Listening To:
“We Are Young” by Fun featuring Janelle Monae
“Rooftops” by Kris Allen
“Strong Enough” by Matthew West
“Empty and Beautiful” by Matt Maher