Here in the Commonwealth for what seems to be an eternity we have been reading news stories about the evil of quid pro quo.
Today's gospel forces us to face the harsh reality that most of human life is lived quid pro quo. When we human beings do something we want, expect, or even at times demand something in return. And when we don't get it we cry, "it's not fair."
Part of it comes from how we are created. We are created to be in relationship, and relationships are, by our definition, mutual. We expect everything to be 50-50, "a two-way street." Even those two most basic commandments: love God and love your neighbor.
When was the last time you prayed simply to express love for God and wanted absolutely nothing in return? Most of us can't get through and period of prayer without asking God for something.
And on the human side,even when we say those most powerful words, "I love you" there is at least some part of us that is hoping the other person will say, "I love you too." And how do you feel when they don't?
That's what makes God's love for us unique. God is perfect, whole, complete. God neither needs nor wants anything from us. As Common Preface IV says, "our praises add nothing to your greatness but profit us for salvation." God wants to be in relationship with us not because he derives any benefit from the relationship but to perfect us. God's love is the only completely selfless love in the universe.
We may never be able to love in a completely self way in this life , but in today's gospel Jesus calls us to strive to imitate the love of God when he tells us:
when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
I would add to that list the relative you most dislike being around, and the friend who only calls when they want something or has the most annoying personality. It is only when we show love to those who will not or cannot love us back that we are truly particularly Christian.