Often, when we think of our mothers, we think of one who shows her love through her actions.
I remember picking out a Mother’s Day card that revealed this kind of love. It was the type that would fold out with multiple pages. Each page had a cartoon of a mother working hard. It said something like, “to the mother who cooks my food, who washes my clothes, who puts Band-aids on my skinned knees, who drives me to school.”
That card reminded me of the truth about my mother’s love. It was revealed best in what she did.
This is the kind of love we hear Jesus speaking of in the Gospel of John. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9). This love that Jesus has given to us is self-giving love. He willingly sacrificed his life for us – so that we could have a living relationship with God. Now he calls us to follow his example – to love as he loved. This means loving others through the actions of our lives.
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Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
God loved us so much that he gave his own son for our sake. As his followers today, our love for others is a reflection of that divine love we have received. When we love through the actions of our lives, the life of our risen Lord Jesus Christ is present with us. And as we love through the actions of our lives, the Lord lives through us, so that others will know his love also.
I heard a story recently of this kind of love. At Levine Children’s Hospital, there was a 3-year-old boy named Brayden suffering from a rare disease that could cause leukemia if not treated. The way to treat this disease was with a bone marrow transplant. His mother and father were only half matches for his bone marrow. But his 5-year-old sister, Bella, was a perfect match. Their father said, “Bella, you are a perfect match for Bray-Bray.” She turned to Braydon without hesitation and said, “Bray-Bray, I’m gonna save your life.”
For me, this was an incredible example of self-giving love.
But this love that we are called to share isn’t just for our family. Jesus calls us to love all God’s children. Recently I received this kind of love from an unexpected source. A few months ago, I had surgery and my strength was slow to return. So when spring arrived and my grass began to grow, I watched my yard, wondering if I could push a mower. Then one day I came home and discovered that my grass had been cut. My next-door neighbor had noticed that it needed cutting, so he did it. And that’s not the only time he did it.
He knew there was a need, so he acted. That is what love means.
We are called to love with the actions of our lives. Sometimes that love is for our family. Sometimes that love is for our friends or neighbors or fellow church members. And sometimes the call to love is for a stranger – maybe it’s the person you meet at the store who needs a caring person to listen, maybe it’s the person who visits the Fort Mill Care Center and is fed by the food you gave, maybe it’s the person in a country far away who is helped by the donation that you made to an aid agency.
Each day, we are called to love by serving others through the actions of our lives. When we do, we know the presence of the risen Lord with us. When we do, Jesus Christ is present to all his world.
The Rev. Sally Franklin is the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, at 501 Pine St. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org