Learning to love the unlovable

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

IT’S a daunting challenge, no doubt, but if we have to be truly consistent to our Christian identity, we better learn, with God’s grace and our earnest efforts, to love the unlovable.

This is what we are practically told, nay, commanded in the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. (cfr. Lk 15,1-10) And that’s simply because if we are truly children of God, created in his image and likeness, and whose very essence is love that is fully revealed and lived by Christ himself, then we have to understand that love has a universal scope and covers everyone, including our enemies and those we consider unlovable.

Like Christ, we should have the same love for everybody, irrespective of how they are with us. They can even be our enemies. Thus, Christ himself told us very clearly that we should love our enemies. (cfr. Mt 5,44) This is the kind of love that is the very essence of God and that is also meant for us. It has a universal scope even if it never compromises the truth. It can prefer to suffer and die for the truth.

On our part, we just have to learn to adapt our mind and heart to this kind of love that God through Christ in the Holy Spirit is actually sharing with us. We have to develop a certain compassion for the lost sheep and know how, like Christ, we can fraternize with those in error spiritually and morally, or at least with those wrapped up with all sorts of weaknesses.

That’s is what is in the heart of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It’s also the heart we should try to cultivate, since he himself gave us the new commandment that summarizes and perfects all the previous commandments that “you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jn 13,34)

It’s a love that covers everyone, including our enemies, the unlovable, the sinners, offenders, those who are wrong in a human issue and all others who for one reason or another we may have some reason not to love or like.

In fact, one sure sign our loving is authentic is when we include these people in our loving. Otherwise, our love is fake, no matter how fervently we profess it. Our love gets spoiled and deteriorates into self-rigtheousness.

Remember what our Lord said about this point. “If you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans do this?” (Mt 5,46)

Thus, our Lord explicitly said that we have to love our enemies, to do good to them that hate us and pray for those who persecute and calumniate us. This is how we are going to be identified as children of God who makes his sun to rise upon the good and bad, the rain on the just and the unjust.

Love by definition involves all and is given without measure or calculation. This essence of love is what breaks us loose from our limited human condition to make our world universal, not entangled in some parochial, partisan or isolationist grip.

We should just discipline ourselves and train ourselves to overcome the usual natural aversion we have against those who differ with us or who offend us. This obviously will require humility from us, but that’s what would truly liken us with Christ who is the pattern of our humanity.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com