Beyond Endearment

4942_4520152765_18d684150b_o-628x284

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a fellow brother about love of neighbor and, specifically, about love of the “neighbors” with whom we happen to live. (In our case here at the House of Studies, that means seventy-nine fellow friars!) We were discussing the great need for self-sacrifice in any vocation, be it religious life or marriage. Agreeing with a comment he had made, I said, “Yes, it goes beyond endearment,” and he responded, “Good point.” Eureka! I knew I had a topic for my next Dominicana post!

“Endearing” is defined as “inspiring affection or warm sympathy,” and “to endear” is “to cause to become beloved or admired.” It is a quality we find in many people, but we encounter it more often, it seems, in those we with whom don’t live with than in those with whom we do. When the next-door neighbor gives us fresh-baked cookies, we certainly find it endearing. We take the cookies, say thank you, shut the door, and enjoy. No more neighbor. But now, as we eat the cookies, we look across the room to the overflowing garbage can that our spouse or fellow friar promised to empty earlier that morning. This is not endearing. In fact, it might be enraging!

Of course, fellow friars and spouses, like the next-door neighbor with the fresh-baked cookies, also have their winsome qualities. They, too, can be endearing, if we take the time to notice it. (In this regard, it helps to remember that we may not be the easiest people to live with, either.) But, even so, endearment only goes so far, and, when we live with someone on a daily basis, it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Perhaps, among the apostles, St. Peter’s gruffness was endearing, or St. John’s youthful enthusiasm. Yet, endearment did not get them through the arrest, torture, and death of Jesus, their teacher, brother, friend, savior, Lord, and God. Christ’s self-sacrificing love did. Hard, scary, and unpleasant as it was, self-sacrificing love is what got them through over the long haul. Self-sacrificing love, not endearment, is what led to their salvation.

And yet, endearment is very often part of the story. If we didn’t try “to inspire affection or warm sympathy” in each other, and if we didn’t try to be inspired with affection and warm sympathy for one another, it would be harder to go further and deeper in our love of neighbor. We can, however, rely on Christ’s self-sacrificing love to give us the grace to love our neighbor always, regardless of appeal or not—even beyond endearment.

Image: Trash Can Jenga

You May Also Enjoy:

Forgotten Virtues: Honesty To be honest as this world goes is to be one man picked out of ten thousand. —William Shakespeare, Hamlet Although parents and psychologists laud honesty as the best policy, it is a virtue that is hard to find. Look at politicians, used car salesmen, or any number of professions where it seems the “only” way to get ahead is through deception. Consider films or other forms of entertainment where we delight in the clever thief or quick-witted l...
The Hidden Christ Christmas Day has passed, the Magi have brought their gifts, and, in a few days, we will celebrate Jesus’ baptism. This is a time of hiddenness: after St. Luke’s recap of the finding of the boy Jesus in the temple, there is no Gospel account of Jesus’ life until his baptism. According to Luke, Jesus was about thirty years old when he encountered John the Baptist at the Jordan, which means that the nearly two decades of Jesus’ life leading up to t...
The Word on the Word As the uncreated Word of God, the Lord Jesus is the key to all the Scriptures. The New Testament itself bears witness to this truth. St. Paul interprets the beginning of Genesis in the light of Christ as “the New Adam” (Rom 5:12–19), and at Pentecost St. Peter preaches Christ as foreshadowed in the Psalms (Acts 2:14–41). The Evangelists frequently tell us that Christ did or said a particular thing “that what was written might be fulfilled" (cf. M...
Jesus in the Qur’an Christians may be surprised to learn that the Islamic holy book—the Qur’an, written in the seventh century A.D.—portrays Jesus as a major prophet. In fact, the name "Jesus" appears in the Qur’an about thirty-five times. But the reverence for Jesus in the Qur’an does not amount to the worship that Christians render. Given the importance of the disagreement, it’s worth examining some of the Qur’anic texts that mention Jesus. The Qur’an affirms t...