Loving all – easier said than done, right?

No doubt about it, loving everyone is pretty difficult, especially for us college students. We’re not exactly the most loving of people. There always seems to be annoying friend drama, or our parents trying to rule our lives from home, or that one professor who repeatedly manages to tick us off no matter how hard we try. “Hate” is a word commonly thrown around without thought, as in “I hate this class. I hate school. I hate pizza.” We college students can be quite disgruntled people.

Well look here! It’s Advent, a time of anticipation – a new liturgical year! Here’s a chance to clean up our acts. For one, we can eliminate the word “hate” from our vocabulary. But loving all takes a bit more than that.

When I think of loving all, I think of loving as a child. Think of how children live their lives: innocent, enthusiastic, no chips on their shoulders, and upbeat almost to the point of being unbearable. Children are not jaded by the world, but see a world of opportunity and enjoyment. This is how we should live out love, innocent and exuberant. Every day, I strive to capture this simple love, because, as I see it, it is the path to eternal youth. Not that we shouldn’t grow up and be immature, but just remember where we have come from, remember the days when we didn’t have job applications or credit cards or 20-page research papers.

Where am I getting this? Straight from the source. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus lets us in on it: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” There you have it; the Son of God wants us to behave like little children. And let’s not forget the oft-used phrase “Children of God” – not the cousins, or acquaintances, or the in-laws. Since we are His children, and Jesus is His Son, we can think of Jesus as our big brother, the one who always makes Mom and Pop proud. We can learn from Him, learn to love like Him. God is Love after all.

Advent is preparing us for the Nativity, when God enrobed Himself in flesh and became human. And how did He come down to earth? Not as a powerful king with a host of angels, not as a wise old man with his proverbs, but as a vulnerable and innocent child. Let’s not forget this in our Advent preparation.

But I’m not here to throw Scripture at you. Let’s get a game-plan together. Now that we know we should love like children, how do we go about loving all? For starters, let’s pretend we’re still children, but we also know how to cook.

To me, the closest physical manifestation of love is sharing a warm plate of food – not pink hearts or flowers or a box of chocolates – I’m talking about a big, steaming scoop of whatever your favorite casserole is. (Or maybe you’re not into casseroles; just whatever your comfort food is.) In the words of one of my favorite foodies, “There are few – if any – social acts that can provide so positive a spin on human interactions, and if we did more of it I feel certain there would be a lot less misery and misunderstanding on this planet.” This is how the earliest disciples celebrated their faith, in a shared meal remembering Jesus’ sacrifice called the agape feast. Agape can be translated into English as “love” or “charity.” When we celebrate the Mass, we gather together as a family to recall Jesus’ loving sacrifice through a meal. Call me crazy, but that must be more than a coincidence.

The connection between love and a shared meal is inseparable. So how can we love all this Advent? Share a meal with family, friends, and strangers alike. Donate to a local charity (of course, I like food pantries). And however you participate in it, share in your faith’s Advent celebration with a childlike heart. Think of Advent as leading up to a big family feast, where we come out of exile at the little kids’ table, and come to the grown-ups’ table to sit next to Dad. And say please when you ask for the casserole.

KG Koch is a sophomore Philosophy, Politics, and the Public Major from South Bend, IN. He is a ConneXions leader and a part of the Approach – Spring 2013 team through the CFJ. KG enjoys eating pomegranates and reading Calvin & Hobbes. He will also award bonus points for anyone who can name that foodie.