Christian love requires total self-giving

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THAT’S how Christ defines in so many words what true love is.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment,” he said. “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.” (Mt 5,22)

It’s quite clear that Christ wants us to have nothing to do with any negative element, no matter how small or insignificant, no matter how internal only, in our relationship with others.

This, of course, is a big and seemingly insurmountable challenge for us, given our wounded human condition. But then again, if we would only try our best to follow the example of Christ, always begging for his grace, we surely can hack it, even if this Christian love has to develop in stages.

True Christian love demands everything from us. Thus, when Christ was asked what the greatest commandment was, he was forthright in saying that we should love God with everything that we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Christ himself embodied this love when he, being God who became man, and while he did a lot of good things to everyone, was not contented with that. He assumed all the sins of men by ultimately offering his life on the cross.

True Christian love is synonymous with utmost generosity and magnanimity. There is no holding back of anything. It gives our all. It stands and burns consistently and even in a progressive way whatever the situation and condition, the challenges and trials in our life may be.

Thus, St. Paul said: “Love is patient and is kind; love does not envy. Love does not brag, is not proud, does not behave itself inappropriately, does not seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

We have to realize that since God has given himself totally to us in Christ through the Holy Spirit, we should learn how to give ourselves totally to him and to everyone else. Yes, much has been given to us, and so, just as much is also expected, nay, required of us.

May we be generous in this department of giving back, convinced that what we seem to lose by giving is actually regained and multiplied a number of times, as Christ himself said, “For everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for my name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19,29)

By giving back what we receive, we foster greater connectivity and communion among ourselves. This is urgently needed these days when, ironically, we have many more communication technologies than before and yet we seem to have more people isolating themselves from others now than before or, worse, creating division among ourselves.

Only in this way can we achieve that communion we ought to have with God and with everybody else. Never forget that we are meant for that kind of life in communion.