By Our Love, By Our Love

By Our Love, By Our Love May 21, 2015


I’ve been watching the series on the early Church, A.D.:The Bible Continues, since Easter. It’s quite well done, not 100% accurate, but very compelling and entertaining since after all, it is a network TV show.

In the show, you see the Sanhedrin and Pharisees a lot, since it is basically telling the story of Acts of the Apostles. I’ve had this image in my mind for a while, because of the show, of all the leaders of Judaism together in the temple discussing the minutiae of the law while life in the city swirled around them.

They argued with one another, sometimes very heatedly. They abused non believers, up to and sometimes including stoning. Ask Stephen, the first Christian to die for his faith in Christ.

With me in the back of my mind as I sat down to prayer this morning, I was struck by the words of the Gospel:

“And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me…that the world may know that you sent me” (John 17)

Immediately two things sprang to mind: that image of the Sanhedrin pouring over the minutiae of the law and the very old hymn

We are one in the Spirit

We are one in the Lord

We are one in the Spirit

We are one in the Lord

And we pray that all unity may one day be restored

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love

Could it make more of a contrast?

They’ll know we are Christians by…

the combox on Catholic blog posts?

our first reaction when we say “well, what was she wearing/drinking?”

our ambivalence towards the violence that permeates every pore of our culture?

our indifference to the poor in our midst, our willingness to humiliate them as a condition of receiving service?

dedicating much time and bluster to admonishing the tiny fraction of Catholics who use NFP, presuming to know their sinful hearts and minds, and accusing them of selfishness?

turning away from those in need because its too messy, too complicated, and what if they wreck my plans?

Listen friends, I am or have been guilty of most of these at one time or another. I’m not talking to anyone else more than I’m talking to me. But, you know its true.

They’ll know we are Christians by our love isn’t so much a statement as it is an indictment.

The members of the early Church drew people in because they were open. They fed people without asking them who was at fault for their hunger. They shared with people without waiting to see if they deserved it. They baptized and entered into community with anyone who asked to belong.

They offered the kind of radical charity and openness that God offers us every day of our lives. He feeds us his very self knowing we have put other hungers before him. He shares his body, blood, soul and divinity with us, knowing that we could never be worthy of the gift. He welcomes into community of his Church all who ask and seek with open hearts.

The early Church did this because they allowed themselves to be filled with the radical love of the holy Spirit, which descended on Pentecost and filled them with the fire of God’s blazing love for humanity and all of his creation. This same spirit stands ready to fill us and send us out fearlessly for the work of offering radical charity to a world that is hurting and lost.

I’m convinced that the only way we will ever see our unity restored, the only way they will know we are Christians by our love is through the sanctifying, transforming power of the holy Spirit. May it descend upon us this Sunday, the feast of Pentecost and remain. May the Spirit “annoy” us (as my pastor is fond of saying) until we are moved to more love, more justice, more reaching out.


maybe this applies to more than just our children?
maybe this applies to more than just our children?

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  • Great thoughts. Reminds me of Shane Claiborne and his radical movement. It’s a daily struggle to figure out how to balance what we want for ourselves and our children and what we are called to, in terms of sacrificial love. It’s never going to get easy, is it?

  • This is a great reminder, Sarah, that we are always called to do more than we are or think we are capable of.

  • eysaint


    And yes, I think the quote on the print applies to more than just our children. Or, if it doesn’t yet, it should.

  • Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    Amen!!!!! Where can I watch that show? I’m really drawn to the early Church lately.

    • Sarah B.


      Its on NBC on Sunday nights at 9 pm EST. Possibly available on the NBC website?

  • Great reminder. Thank you! And I like what Erica said about the print. I’ll definitely always keep that in mind now.

  • This is something we all need to work on. I know I sure do. Sometimes I think really ‘seeing’ it for yourself really gives you the kick you need. I know that when we met our kids’ birthmothers and “saw” their poverty ($ and spiritual) through their stories, it really struck us. Thank you for sharing your heart with this! -Jess

  • I had wanted to watch that series, but I kept forgetting it was on.

    Each morning I pray for God to help me see the ways I can be a blessing that day, but more importantly, I pray for the courage to be that blessing. It isn’t easy to get outside of our comfortableness. It is scary sometimes to help. Many times, we just can’t do it without the help of the Holy Spirit.

    Your post is similar to the homily we heard yesterday. Both are certainly inspiring me to get out and do more loving.

  • Pat

    Thank you for writing. It is what we are called to do. And doing that also goes a long way toward healing our own hearts. We gain as we give. We daily reminders. The book Enrique’s Journey which I am reading for my church book group tells of some very poor people in Mexico who get food to Central American migrants as those very very poor people ride the trains trying to get to the US. These poor Mexicans do this because their Catholic Church calls them to feed the strangers. They give out of their poverty. Their culture is one of giving.