A couple of years ago I was sitting at a meeting for a group of women who were about to serve on a three day ecumenical retreat. One of the pastors serving as a “spiritual director” for the weekend was a sharing a short meditation with the team of ladies when he asked us “How much do you love Jesus?”
Now no one burst out with a answer but I know that I quietly replied in my heart, “Jesus I hope that I love you so much that I would die a martyr’s death for you.” After a moment of reflection on this question the spiritual director said something that has stuck with me ever since (he may have stolen this line from someone; preachers have been known to do that from time to time). Here is what he said: “I can tell you how much you love Jesus… You love Jesus, as much as you love the person you love the least.”
In an instant my hopeful pledge of martyrdom fell flat as the faces of people in my life that I’d failed to truly love and faces of those I was currently failing to love flashed before my eyes. In the silence that followed his meditation I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “So you’ll die a martyr’s death for me, but, will you die to yourself to love __________? ” (and he whispered the name of someone I’d been having a hard time unconditionally loving)
Matthew 25: 36,45 — Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me…whatever you did not do for one of the least of these you did not do for me.”
Philippians 2:3-8 — Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God somthing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant…he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.
- So, how much do you love Jesus?
- Who have you loved the least in the last week?
- How is God calling you to die to yourself in order to love this person with the love of Jesus?
May God give us the grace we need to die to our flesh and truly love others as much as we love ourselves.