Mary Tyler Moore is being called “the greatest woman TV star ever.” As John Podhoretz notes, she starred in two landmark sitcoms playing two very different characters, something no one else has done in the history of television.
Her death yesterday at the age of eighty continues to make headlines this morning. News sources are playing video clips of her funniest episodes. Her remarkable comedic timing and acting brilliance won her seven Emmys. But I think CBS captured the essence of her popularity with a one-hour special airing tonight titled, “Mary Tyler Moore: Love Is All Around.”
Whether on screen or in person, she made people feel loved. Actress Cloris Leachman spoke for many who worked with her: “The picture that we all have of Mary, that’s how she was—sweet, kind, so tender, so delicate. She was America’s sweetheart.”
This despite her struggles with diabetes and with alcoholism, which she wrote about in the first of her two memoirs. Her only child died at the age of twenty-four, the victim of an accidental gunshot. Perhaps her challenges helped forge her loving spirit and well-known charity work.
Maya Angelou was right: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
There’s a lesson for Christians here. In a time dominated by animosity and negativity, reflecting God’s love in ours becomes even more powerful and urgent. This fact was impressed upon me today by a biblical text I had never noticed before.
In Genesis 25 we are not surprised to find a listing of the descendants of Isaac, one of the central figures in Jewish history. But we also find a listing of the descendants of Ishmael. Upon reflection, I decided that it’s there in part to remind us that God loves Ishmael’s Arab descendants just as he loves Isaac’s Jewish progeny.
In fact, our Father cares about all people: “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me” (Isaiah 65:1). In Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female” (Galatians 3:28).
Now our Father wants us to love people as he does. Jesus described our compassion for those in need as ministry to him personally (Matthew 25:31–46). He made it clear that such service is essential preparation for his return.
Here’s the challenge: it is difficult to love people fully unless we know that we are fully loved.
St. John Chrysostom (AD 349–407) was Archbishop of Constantinople and one of the greatest preachers of his age. In a homily on Paul, he noted the apostle’s sacrificial ministry to the Gentile world. What motivated such service?
“The most important thing of all to him . . . was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ. Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else; were he without it, it would be no satisfaction to be the friend of principalities and powers. . . . in being loved by Christ he thought of himself as possessing life, the world, the angels, present and future, the kingdom, the promise and countless blessings.”
The more we are loved, the more we must love. Do you know how much you are loved right now?