For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Generally speaking love does not count the cost. This we experience this week, as we see the depths of God’s love, as Jesus sacrifices his life for us. ” Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Throughout the Gospel there are many instances where we see God’s love in action as Jesus heals the sick, forgives the sins of sinners, comforts the lonely, raises the down trodden and releases the captives. Jesus acts of mercy are selfless and unconditional. He gives of his best and shares his life with the people. God demonstrates his love for us by giving the best he has to offer-Jesus his only Son.

Jesus was not sent to condemn the world as some might believe. He was sent to save the human race from its predicament, the result of sin and to mend the broken relationship that existed between man and God. It was an act of love whose purpose was to reconcile the human race back to God. John’s Gospel makes this point: “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).

Unfortunately, God’s love was rejected by the people to whom he sent his Son and to this day people continue to reject his gift of love. Holy week reminds us of the price one can pay for love. Love can be costly. Holy week is a kind of paradox; Jesus is rejected but he does not stop loving his detractors.

At some points in the Gospel we sense Jesus’ agony as he lives through his love being rejected: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not” (Luke 13:34). Certainly, here is pain, disappointment and hurt.

Whenever we share our love - love used in its broad context- with anyone we expose ourselves to pain and disappointment. There is always the possibility that love can end in hurt. Holy week reminds us of the pain we experience when our love is rejected, trampled or used. However, it also teaches that love never stops loving. St. Paul comments on this idea:

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Sharing our love is one of the biggest risks we take in our lives. There is always the possibility that the relationship formed might fail. Jesus took a risk and it failed; his love was rejected. The risk of love being rejected does not mean we should not share our love; rather; it requires us to take intelligent risks and not foolish risks that are doomed to failure.

We share and give our love to establish relationships. Love allows us to reach out to each other in an environment of trust. We trust that all will be well, we take the risk and love and we start a relationship. In this regard, we place our confidence in persons believing that they will do what is right and we expect them to be honourable. When our trust in persons is broken it is always a painful experience of love. Judas broke Jesus’ trust in him.

Relationships break when love is compromised. When the love between parents and child breakdowns beyond repair it can be heartbreaking; the same is true when spouses’ love fails; it is also true when love between friends become sour. In all of these instances there is pain, agony, frustration and disappointment.

Like Jesus we may experience the rejection of love but we are reminder by Paul, love never fails. This we see in Jesus who prays forgiveness for all who reject his love and cause him pain: “forgive them they know not what they do.”

Part of the pain of love is the ability to love those who do us evil. As Christians we are called to a higher standard of moral living. As Christians we cannot operate on the same level as those who are non – Christian. What is this higher standard of living? Paul answers it in six words: “Do not render evil for evil.” 

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