“Love, love, love, love,

The gospel in one word is love

Love your neighbor as yourself for God loves us all.”

These lines from a song I learned in childhood came to my mind as I was walking this morning and listening to Brennan Manning‘s “Abba‘s child.”

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was challenged by an expert in religious law about who qualifies as our neighbor. Jesus answered him by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. At the end of the story, Jesus asked the man,

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?”

The man replied,

“The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said,

“Yes, now go and do the same.”

Our neighbor is anyone and everyone. Not just the people we like or love, or those we feel comfortable around or who agree with. Judgment has no place in love. We are called to love fiercely and bravely without condition just as God loves us. We are called to show mercy to all, the same way that God shows each and every one of us mercy countless times a day.

In our fast-paced, commercialized and capitalist culture, we can quickly lose sight of the simple message of the Gospel, which is love. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the One who came to earth to live out the Gospel. Love is the most important gift that we can give, receive and celebrate during this Christmas season.

So, let’s close out Amazon and skip the trip to the mall so we can focus on the one gift that will always keep on giving and that will never go out of style!