And who is my…

“you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.”

The exercise of brotherly love takes two forms.

The first is exercising love toward our family in the faith. Within the Church, and with fellow Christians, we are to live as joined together in tender affection, such as the love between parents and children. This means that Christians should have similar feelings toward each other, as belonging to the same family, and as united in the same principles and interests.

The second is exercising love toward all of humanity. As the Good Samaritan, we must look at every person with love and compassion, treating them as brothers and sisters.

This might seem easy when a person we do not know is in need. We still feel the tug to help, to do something for them – we are following Christ’s teaching. But, what happens when a person we do not know is cruel toward us, toward the Church in general, or toward all Christians?

We may never be able to turn their hearts of our own accord, but with Christ’s help we must love. Here is how:

First, we need to trust in Jesus’ word. Hearing it is one thing, but carrying it out is another. That’s harder – we have to admit that. But, pause for a moment and think, how would Jesus want me to respond. We will always come back to responding with love.

Next, we need to express that love. The best way to start is in prayer. Pray for that person, that whatever troubles them may be removed, that their heart may be healed and turned. Follow up by expressions of brotherly love. This could be as simple as not responding in kind.

Do not return a bad word for a bad word. Do not return a scowl with a scowl. Rather, return love, a smile, an expression of kindness and empathy.

Throughout the history of faith, Christians have been know as doing crazy things – things the world does not understand. The hardest thing for the world to understand is love toward strangers and most especially toward those who are not kind to us.

If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.

God taught us how to love. It is not always easy, both within our family of faith and toward all of humanity. Therefore, let’s exercise our brotherly love at all times – and grow strong in love.