Limitless love and our limitations

y Fr. Roy Cimagala

THAT gospel episode where Christ asked Peter 3 times whether Peter loves him (cfr. Jn 21,15-19) somehow reminds us that love, which is supposed to be limitless and to be given without measure, needs to develop in stages given our human condition.

As the gospel narrates, after Peter responded in the affirmative to the first 2 questions, Christ told him to “feed my lamb.” But after the 3rd affirmative response of Peter, Christ told him to “feed my sheep.”

Then Christ proceeded to tell Peter, “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” These words of Christ could only mean that if Peter truly loves Christ, he should be ready to give his all, including his life, no matter how difficult that would be.

We have to realize more deeply that if we truly love God, which is also translated and is expressed in our love for everybody else also, then we should be ready to give our all, including our life, though this love too has to develop in stages.

We cannot deny that our earthly life is subject to many conditionings that can put some limitations to that possibility of giving our all for love. There are natural conditionings like the usual and normal process of growing from childhood to maturity that definitely allows us only to have a gradual understanding of what true love is.

Then we have the infranatural conditioning that are the effects of our sins and that can further distort our understanding of love. Still, we can always have the possibility to go beyond these conditionings because the grace of God is always made available. If we correspond properly to that grace, then we would be able to transcend our natural and infranatural conditionings that would put limits to our love for God and for everybody else.

Let’s remember that God himself showed his love for us in a gradual manner. After the fall of our first parents, there was a period of punishment. Then came the promise of the redeemer. Then the redeemer came.

And this redeemer, Jesus Christ, did not immediately give his all to us immediately. First of all, as a child, he needed to be taken care of, taught and brought up by Mary and Joseph. He spent 30 years of hidden life doing very ordinary things, mainly as a carpenter.

And even in his 3 years of public life, he showed his love in a gradual way by first preaching, going around, performing miracles, until finally he gave his all through his passion, death and resurrection. But all the while, he knew that he was giving his all spiritually and morally.

That should always be the example for us to follow. Even if we are subject to many limiting conditionings, we should try our best to give our all at least spiritually and morally by praying for everyone, showing concern and offering sacrifices for everyone, and always trying to prudently overcome our limitations.

We should be clear about aiming at giving our all, including our life, for the sake of love of God and of neighbor. We should never say enough to love!