It sounds good, doesn't it? Quite a challenge, but awfully good. But we have to move it out of the realm of theory into the realm of daily practice. Words are not enough. We have to live it. St. Paul has something to say about the kind of love we are to share. “Make my joy complete,” he urges the Christians, “by your unanimity, possessing the one love, united in spirit and ideals. Never act out of rivalry of conceit. Rather, let all parties think humbly of others as superior to themselves, each of you looking to others’ interests and not his own.” (Philippians 2:2-4)
“Do we all know that it is much easier to love everybody than it is to love the folks close by? It is easier to be a lover of mankind than to love those flesh and blood people with whom we rub shoulders every day. It isn't so easy to love them. It can, at times, be even difficult. It can be particularly difficult to love those who share my dwelling.”
The members of my own household represent a special problem. I know them too well. Not only can I come to appreciate their finer qualities, those things that everybody outside the house can see readily enough, but I get into very close touch with their shortcomings too. When we live together, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, our faults and failings become awfully difficult to hide. We don't exactly want to let it all hang out, but it does anyway. It isn't easy to love people when their cruddiness faces us every day. But love them we must, warts and all.
It's amazing how little things can begin to loom so large when we live under the same roof. How do we feel about the one who talks so much, and invariably in a loud voice? Or who talks almost incessantly about himself? Or who doesn't talk at all? How about those who try to be funny a lot and just can't pull it off? The one who rattles his rosary? (Even St. Therese had trouble with that one.) What about the ones who never turn out the lights? Or who stay too long in the bathroom? And those whose interests are so categorically different from mine? It just isn't easy. And yet, these are the real live people the Lord wants me to love.