“I will pull this car over right now!” was an oft heard summer expression spoken by my father to me and my quarreling siblings riding in the back seat of the family station wagon during our childhood vacation getaways. Like all brothers and sisters we loved each other dearly, but with this love also came the knowledge of which pushed buttons activated the launch sequence towards mutually assured emotional destruction. And no doubt about it, we were button pushers.
As I read today’s Gospel, I imagine Jesus grimacing into a rear view mirror at the twelve button pushers in his back seat. Jesus, in Luke’s previous passage, had just finished explaining how we should love our enemies, but today we are told how to act towards those whom we already love. It is with great ease that we can sometimes cut down those we care about and love the most. It is just as important to nurture the love that is nearest to us as it is to embrace the radical call to love our enemies.
Today, examine those relationships that may have been taken for granted. Pray for loved ones who have made themselves vulnerable to our slights by entrusting us with their deepest selves. Seek ways to push the buttons of gratitude.
—Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago