07 July 2008

How to Love Scary People

by Walter Hilton (d. 1396)
from his book "Ladder of Perfection"

"Ponder how Christ loved Judas, who was his deadly enemy.
Christ was good to him. He was courteous to one he knew to be damnable. He chose him as an apostle. He sent him to preach with the others. He gave him power to work miracles. He showed him the same good cheer in love and deed that he gave the other apostles.

He washed his feet and sat down at table with him.

He did not speak sharply to him in front of the others.

He never said an evil word about him.

When Judas betrayed him with a kiss, Jesus called him his friend.

In all of this, Christ did not pretend or flatter. He showed honest love.

Judas was not worthy of it. He deserved not even a token of love. Our Lord is love and goodness. It is appropriate for [God] to show love and goodness to all God's creatures, even Judas.

This kind of unconditional love is also required of us.
Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." You protest. How can you love a bad person the same way you love a good one? Here is my answer. We are to love both, but not for the same reason. If you can love yourself only because you know you belong to God, you can love others the same way. If they are good and virtuous, you can love God who is in them. If they are bad and immoral, you can still love them--not as they are--but for the sake of God who can make them better."

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