Our three-year-old granddaughter, Merete, loves to “love on” her six-month-old baby sister, Genevieve—all the while sneaking in a pinch or two. In spite of these "affectionate" squeezes, Genevieve feels love and will grow in love, top to bottom, from all the loving she receives from her family. It’s beautiful to witness people loving one another. As Jesus says, we must love ourselves, our neighbors, and even our enemies. Sounds like Jesus demands a lot of “lovin’ on” others for the kingdom of God.
The first time I ever heard, “lovin’ on,” was from an evangelical preacher. Though the phrase, “lovin’ on” may seem strange, people will know Jesus Christ through our love. It can’t be fake, and it’s not dependent on how much a person “deserves” love. Many of those who need loving are exactly the ones who often reject love, as they have never loved themselves. Jesus Christ calls us to be “lovin’ on” the drug addict as much as the counselor, the prisoner as well as the police officer, the hardened teen as much as the sweetest old lady. Jesus Christ came for all—and as Christians, we are to love all—especially those we may not like, for Jesus loves every single person.
A woman in my parish, known for “lovin’ on” everyone she meets, can’t help herself. Seriously, she’s “lovin’ on” every baby, toddler, and child—and they all love her! She lovingly approaches each newcomer to Church or stranger on the street; “lovin’ on” him or her by introducing herself and being interested in the other. She prays with the hospice patient as well as the—well, with anyone and everyone. She’s constantly “lovin’ on” others because God’s love flows through her.
But “lovin’ on” others can be hard and messy. Like my friend who “loved on” a young mom released from prison by spending hours upon hours mentoring her—only to receive the disappointing call that the woman had re-offended. Another friend was “lovin’ on” a disabled man by delivering meals on wheels, though his apartment smelled so badly she could barely breathe. She eventually took cleaning products and scrubbed after he ate. “Lovin’ on” another can break your heart, your back, and your piggy bank. But it’s worth it, for we are being Christ to another.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in Christian outreach, we forget to be “lovin’ on” the members of our domestic churches. As Mother Teresa charged, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” “Lovin’ on” our family members can be the most challenging: “lovin’ on” our toddler by responding with patience when asked the same question for the 487th time; “lovin’ on” our spouse by listening to his/her day when we’re bone-weary; “lovin’ on” our elderly parent by visiting after a long day’s work. Love can be hard, difficult, and demanding, but love is worth it because God is love.
God demands we love even our enemies—the ones who offend us, scare us, differ from us, or repulse us—because love, and only love, changes the human heart. We too were once enemies, but through Jesus' sacrificial love, we are now called friend. Jesus invites us to the Eucharistic table to receive Him, who is always “lovin’ on” us. Now, that’s good news!
Who do you need to be “lovin’ on” today?
Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To read more reflections or to connect with Mary Pedersen: www.marypedersen.com
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.