Love Builds Up
Advent marks the beginning of our new liturgical year—a time in which the Church invites us not only to prepare our hearts to remember the Incarnation of Christ but also to look forward to His Second Coming.
This year, how might God be inviting us anew to prepare our hearts and minds to receive Christ’s presence into our lives? In his letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul offers us a strategy in today’s second reading—to increase and abound in love
for one another and for all.
As I reflect about what it means to love, it seems to me that the work of love is to build each other up, not tear each other down. The philosopher Kierkegaard stated it simply in Works of Love when he wrote: “Love builds up.” When we tear each other down, I believe it makes us less open and less receptive to the presence of Christ in our hearts. When we tear each other down, we may also hinder our neighbor’s ability to recognize Christ’s presence as well.
We might thus examine our own lives at the beginning of this Advent season, asking for the grace to recognize and to get rid of any habits we have that tear our neighbors down. In addition, we might also ask for the grace to cultivate those habits that seeks to build our neighbors up.
In 1 John 4:7, it is written: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.” Brothers and sisters, as we enter once again into the season of Advent, let us prepare for the coming of Christ by making this Advent truly a season of love. If we work on this individually and collectively, we may begin to recognize more clearly how Christ is already present in our midst.
Fr. Ryan Rallanka, S.J., is a member of the Community Ministry and Theology Departments at Seattle Prep.