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“It’s dangerous to love…”

August 20, 2008
jv.jpgRecently, as I prepared for a Catholic Focus taping, I was working my way through my Eucharistic Congress notes.  I came across the above phrase; spoken by the founder of the L’Arche Communities, Jean Vanier.  Many of those in secular society would probably agree with the phrase – but they would likely assume that it was romantic love that was being talked about.
But that wasn't the case.
He explained that the idea to love is not dangerous in ideas – but to really love, person to person, is dangerous because it requires us to be really present.  To sit with a person.  To be there.  I must be committed and involved.  On the L'Arche website, one of Jean's quotes is: "Even though there is a certain respect for difference among neighbours, there is rarely any desire to enter into personal relationships."
Personal relationships with the poor.  One on one.
No longer ideas, but action.
The poor.  The forgotten.  The outcasts.  Accepting and loving a person the way they are.  It's dangerous for us to love someone when they're different from us.  At the Eucharistic Congress, Jean told the story of a mentally challenged little boy.  After his First Holy Communion Mass, standing in front of the little boy, his uncle commented to his mother that it was too bad that he wouldn't fully understand how beautiful and special the Mass was because he was mentally challenged.  The little boy understood though, turned to his mother and said “Don’t worry Mommy, Jesus loves me as I am.”
And that's what we're called to do.  To love people in all their beauty, in all their ugliness, in all their talents, in all their perceived disabilities.   We're called to be present to them.  Present as Jesus is for us in the Blessed Sacrament.
"Jesus will know we are disciples only by our love of others," Jean told the thousands gathered.  This is our mission -- to go to the poor.  To show them that they are loved.  The poor need to hear "I love you, I want to be a real presence next to you."
A certain passage of Sacred Scripture comes to mind: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son..."
It's dangerous to love.