This past week, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, from National Public Radio, aired a radio interview that she conducted here at the airport: "He'll Help You Find Your Flight, And God."
I received hundreds of complementary e-mails and comments on the NPR web page. I am humbled by the great article that she wrote and produced. To be honest with you, she made me look too angelic.
We spent many hours together, during the course of the radio Interview, in which she followed me around for nearly 6 hours with a microphone attached to my lapel. She was recording every word I said, so I had to be vigilant in watching my vocabulary.
I talked to her about the underlying motivation in our chaplaincy work, but much of my personal conversation with her was edited out. She shared with me that she had once been a Christian Science member, but that the teachings of Christian Science on medical issues and its position on pain and suffering became problematic to her.
Christian Science teachings promote mental power over illness and pain. She could not get her reality to accept the idea of psychosomatic healing of cancer and pain. She said to me that she became a Christian because she found in the teachings of Christ a principal focus on love.
We both felt that the world has become very angry and violent and that the best and greatest hope is to promote love and Christian principals wherever possible.
The Biblical story in Luke 10:25, of the Good Samaritan, came into the conversation. I explained that the Samaritan was not a person from the religious society.
In fact, he was considered to be from the outcast community. But he was the person in the story who demonstrated love to the traveler in distress. Jesus used the caring actions of this unexpected Samaritan to define love of neighbor.
Jesus was asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Loving people in this day is a challenge. The definition of love has devolved to a twisted, emotional, sensual, Hollywood meaning. But, in truth, love (agape) is a decision of the will. It is the willful giving of oneself for the well-being of another.
It is a unilateral commitment to care for others without any expectation of reward.
When you commit to love others in this way, I promise you people will think you have lost your mind. They will find your actions to be radical and out of the norm. People will tell you to stop, because you are making them feel uncomfortable, or because they have never experienced love like this, or because they feel you have some ulterior motive, or that you are going to want some reward.
People I care about and love know that I am not afraid to say, "I love you," and I am not afraid to care for them in demonstrative ways. I have been asked by some of my closest friends, "Why are you so open in your expression of love?"
I question why people are so inhibited and afraid of love. Love is the answer to the problems and pain of this world.
People need love. Not the shallow, selfish love of the world, but the love that comes from the Source of Love. It breaks my heart that love is being blocked by the very people who claim to believe in Christ.
Love is being reserved and given only to close family. This is not what the lesson of the Good Samaritan teaches. Love God, love your neighbor and love every one whom God loves.
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