Four Hundred Texts on Love 20

71.  Perfect love does not split up the single human nature, common to all, according to the diverse characteristics of individuals; but, fixing attention always on this single nature, it loves all men equally. It loves the good as friends and the bad as enemies, helping them, exercising forbearance, patiently accepting whatever they do, not taking the evil into account at all but even suffering on their behalf if the opportunity offers, so that, if possible, they too become friends. If it cannot achieve this, it does not change its own attitude; it continues to show the fruits of love to all men alike. It was on account of this that our Lord and God Jesus Christ, showing His love for us, suffered for the whole of mankind and gave to all men an equal hope of resurrection, although each man determines his own fitness for glory or punishment.

My mind often runs in slightly odd directions. As I meditated on the text above, a line from the season five finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer kept running through my mind. Buffy tells her sister, “Dawn, the hardest thing in this world… is to live in it.”

An infant is born naturally capable of perfect love. And then life happens. It could come crashing down on the helpless child as fetal alcohol syndrome, crack addiction, or similar unwanted chemical bath from the mother rewires the infant’s brain. Sometimes that love is crushed in the first few months or years through acts of abuse or neglect.

But even absent such extremes, life still happens. A child learns that people can and will fail them. Every child learns that others will try to take from them. Children learn that life is fraught with danger and risk. Love becomes a commodity in a zero sum game.

Jesus restored all humanity to life. But in order to live we have to love.

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