A psychology professor who had no children of his own would frequently admonish a neighbour scolding a child, saying, “You should love your boy, not punish him”
One hot summer day, the professor repaired his concrete driveway. Tired after several hours of work, he laid down the trowel, wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and started for the house.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a mischievous little boy putting his foot into the fresh cement. He rushed over and started ranting and raving at the child and was about to grab the child by the scuff of the neck, when his neighbour leaned from a window and said, “Watch it professor! Don’t you remember? You must love the child,”
At this the professor yelled back furiously, “I do love him, in the abstract, but not in the concrete.”
Sometimes that is all we want to do is think about love in the abstract. It’s something to discuss, something to philosophise about. But that’s not enough. Love is something you do.
Christ tells a story that illustrates this love in action. A man was in need. He had suffered a beating and was robbed on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. He was ignored by two people, a priest and a Levite both of whom mouthed the law of love but were afraid to act. His desperate need was met by a Samaritan who was willing to act graciously toward him.
When we think of love of people in general – outside our families, in the community, in the world, it’s not based on a feeling . It is essentially an action. Its about action not about natural inclination.
John in one of his epistles admonished his readers: “Little children, let us not love in word and speech, but in deed and in truth.”
In referring to the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus asked the lawyer in the Gospel, “Which of the three do you think was a neighbour to the one who fell into the hands of robbers?” He replied, “The one who had mercy on him”.
It wasn’t the one who talked about love, or professed love, or felt love but the one who acted in love.
And Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”