Your Love Will Be Lost for the Most Part

Pentecost 21 Thursday

Luke 17:14

“When Christ saw them, he said to them: Go and show yourselves to the priests. And as they went, they became clean.”

Now we must also consider the second part of this example of the Christian existence. The lepers taught us to believe. Christ teaches us to love. Now, love does to the neighbor what it sees Christ do to us, as he says in John 13:15: “I have given you an example that you should do just as I have done to do.” And a little later he says in verses 34-35: “I give you a new commandment that you should love one another as I have loved you. By this everybody will know that you are my disciples, when you have love for one another.”…Let us, then, see the works of Christ’s love in this example. But, as everybody can easily see for himself, what is in Christ that is not pure love? First, what need was there for him to travel right through Samaria and Galilee, or who had paid him to do so, or who had asked him to do so? It is not obvious that he does it voluntarily, freely, and of his own accord? No one requested it, so that no one may say that he had deserved it or merited it by his request. Thus, we see here in complete clarity that he does not do anything for himself but that he does everything for the sake of the other, unrequested and completely for free, out of pure goodness and love…Second, see how he does good without injuring anyone, in fact, while avoiding injury of others…He shows his goodness to the lepers as if he had come to the village for their sakes, looks at them graciously, and helps them willingly and gladly. He
additionally prevents the disadvantage of the priests, although he was not obligated to do so. Since he cleansed them supernaturally, without the priests’ cooperation, he might as well have not sent them to the priests…But love does not argue and bicker; it only exists to do good; this is also why it does more than it owes and exceeds what is right…Third, he shows love to a yet greater extent by applying it where it is lost and earns ingratitude for the most part: For he cleanses ten lepers, but only one thanks him; his love was lost on the nine…Look now, this is the example. Now stir up your life so that you may do good not only without injuring others but to their advantage; that you may do good not only to your friends and to those who are good, but consider that your love will be lost for the most part and that you will receive ingratitude and hatred as a reward. This is how you walk on the right path in the footprints of your Lord Christ.

St. Louis ed., 11:1580-1581, 1585-1588.

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