Implications and consequences of true Christian love

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE are given a good picture of what the implications and consequences of true Christian love are in one of the alternative first readings of the Mass on May 31, Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It’s from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans (12,9-16) where it starts with the exhortation that our love must be completely sincere, hating what is evil and holding on to what good. It continues by saying that we have to love one another as Christian brothers and sister, and eager to show respect for one another.

Again, detailing what this true Christian love entails, St. Paul said that we really have to work hard and avoid laziness, and that our service to the Lord, which, of course, should be translated into our service to others, should be from the heart that is full of devotion.

And since our life here on earth is like a journey toward our eternal home, we should be filled with hope that should be joyful, being patient in any trouble we encounter in life, and always praying.

St. Paul encourages us to even ask God to bless those who may persecute us, instead of cursing them, and we ought to be happy with those who are happy and to weep with those who weep.

Furthermore, we are told to have the same concern for everyone, avoiding any form of discrimination even as we treat different people in different ways in accordance to their needs and conditions. Yes, we have to be willing to share what we have with those in need and also willing to open our homes to strangers.

True Christian love should lead us to avoid pride and to be willing to accept humble duties, irrespective of whatever social or economic status we may have in society. To top it all, if this love truly reigns in our heart, we should never think ourselves as wise. On the contrary, in another letter, St. Paul advises that we should regard others as better than us. (cfr. Phil 2,3)

This is a tall order, of course. To be sure, it would require of us nothing less that a real identification with Christ himself, who is the very embodiment of this kind of love. Let’s hope that everyday, through the ordinary events and circumstances of life, and in our daily interactions with everyone, we can approximate this kind of love. I suppose that we are not expected to perfect it all at once, but we can always try.

We really have to learn to give all our heart to Christ by exercising those gifts God himself has given us so we can share his life and love, i.e., the theological gifts of faith, hope and charity. We need time and effort to do this.

And given our human condition now, it is a love that would know how to do spiritual battle against the enemies of God and of love. It would know how to renew itself always and to go through the lifelong process of having to begin and begin again. This way, things would always appear new to us even if we handle the same things everyday.

When our love is simply based on our own ideas and, worse, on our senses and feelings alone, that love can only be fake no matter how passionate it may appear, at least for a moment. It cannot stand the test of time nor cope with all the challenges, trials and temptations we have in this world.



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