When we meet that special person whom we will eventually marry, our stomach begins to churn, our mouth goes dry, and sometimes we may even get a little dizzy. When we are asked how do we know we are in love, our response is often based upon these physical symptoms rather than any rational explanation. That is because love isn’t rational. It is an emotion we cannot control.
So when God commands, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself,” (Luke 10.27) we feel a challenge. We can’t force ourselves to love. Anyone who has ever tried to love another in a bad relationship knows this struggle. We either love or we do not love.
One thing we do know, is that sometimes with enough time, we begin to love others. A life lived together through challenges and mutual support often is the seed which grows into love. Time with our family, close friends, or even coworkers can grow into love. It isn’t that ‘romantic love’ that leads to marriage, but it is love nonetheless. This is the love that God commands. The sort of love that develops through mutual struggles and support; a life lived in common.
In the Gospel today, a lawyer asked God, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10.25) The answer is God’s challenge to love others with all the energy we have. How is that possible if we can’t force love? We can only love through spending time together in common struggle and mutual support. This is why Christ gives the example of the “Good Samaritan” because it was his common support and struggle with the man left for dead, that lead to love. Those who were too busy to be bothered didn’t have the chance to love, and therefore could not have eternal life with God.
Ultimately, for us to love God, we have to spend time with Him in a life of mutual struggle and support. When we were baptized into Christ, we entered into this life of mutual existence that we call “Holy Communion” and through our constant struggles and His support we learn to love Him. If we are too busy to be bothered with spending time with God, just as those on the road were too busy to spend time with the man left for dead, we never learn to love Him.
God respects our free will and will never force us to love Him, but if we choose not to love Him, then we will never have eternal life. We will continue to be spiritual zombies walking the earth pretending to be alive. In fact, we will already be dead. Wouldn’t it be better to live with Him, and learn to love Him so we could be alive? The only way to be alive is for us to be like the Samaritan and take time out of our busy life, and join Christ for a life of mutual struggle and support. Then we will awake already loving Him, though we will never be able to explain quite how and why. It will just be love.