In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he has first loved us…
–1 John 4:10–
Once upon a time, a strong magnet fell in love with a slender nail. The magnet confided to the nail: “I love you. If you love me, become magnetized.”
Well, the nail did everything she could think of to become magnetic. She went out of her way to make friends with stuck-up refrigerator magnets in the hope that she would become like them simply by hanging around them. She attended magnetism workshops and seminars. She read countless self-help books on “how to activate the magnet within.” She spent hour after hour pointing north. All to no avail! Then, one day, she happened to come across an enlightening article in a supermarket tabloid. Her attention was riveted as she read how, with repeated, rapid, and violent blows, a piece of iron could actually become temporarily magnetized. Wow! Rushing down to the nearest hardware store, the nail sought out the services of an obliging hammer and meekly submitted to the recommended treatment. Naturally, the wretched nail was completely bent out of shape by the hammer’s brutality, and in the end, all her pains proved utterly fruitless. She did indeed gain a bit of magnetism, but this was decidedly very weak and lasted less than a few seconds. Alas! Despite all the nail’s tireless efforts, she was not able to draw even iron filings to herself.
Finally, at the point of despair, the nail got up the courage to pay a visit to her lover, the magnet. “I wish to be your lover,” she confessed. “I have, in the hope of pleasing you, tried ever so hard to acquire magnetism, but I am a complete failure.”
At first, the magnet looked at the nail with tears of compassion in his eyes. Then, all at once, he laughed gently and stretched out his arms to her. Before she knew what was happening, she was drawn into his embrace.
“Beloved,” whispered the magnet, “I am afraid you have been laboring under a misconception. You have obviously misunderstood me. I told you, ‘if you love me, become magnetized.’ I was not only placing a demand on you. Much more than that! I was giving you a promise. If you love me, I myself will give you the power to become magnetic. Your magnetism will be strong, because you will derive it directly from me.”
Both embarrassed and overjoyed, the nail gazed in astonishment into the eyes of her magnet. Then she meekly lowered her head. To her utter amazement, she realized that no less than seven paperclips were adhering to her side. She had become magnetized! It had all been so simple!
Jesus says (John 14:15), “If you love me, keep my commandments.” At first, this may sound rather daunting. We cannot on our own ever hope to keep Christ’s commandments—especially His great command to love (John 13:34-35). We cannot, even through the most rigorous self-imposed mortifications, ever begin to love as Jesus loves. Yet Our Lord not only commands. He also gives us the ability to fulfill His commands. All we have to do is remain united to Him and His Church through prayer, the Scriptures, and the sacraments. Then His magnetic love and peace will flow in and through us, and we will draw others to Him, just as He has drawn us to Himself. What could be more simple? What could be more wonderful?