It is not enough to say “I love God,” but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love you neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people, and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.
It hurt Jesus to love us. We have been created in His image for greater things, to love and to be loved. We must “put on Christ” as Scripture tells us. And so, we have been created to love as He loved us. Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, “You did it to me.” On the last day He will say to those on His right, “Whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto Me,” and He will say also to those on His left, “Whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do for me.”
When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.
February 3, 1994
Prayer Breakfast at the White House