Love: a simple four letter word that implies so much. Do we really understand the true meaning of the love Jesus instructs us to have? I thought of a woman from my parish, who lost her young son many years ago, due to gang violence. I didn’t know her at the time when her son was killed, but knew of her son’s passing because he was from our community.

People still remember his mother, Señora Arellano, from her actions at his funeral Mass. They recall how the woman stood up in front of the congregation and stated she forgave the person who killed her son. Her son’s life mattered, the killer’s life mattered…she was acting out of love. Even though she was suffering, she was willing to forgive. She understood what God calls us to do, love, even in our saddest moments. I imagine Jesus telling her, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

—Cecilia Hernandez works in the Vocations Office for the Midwest Jesuits.