The duty to love everyone

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

INDEED, we have such duty! Christ himself told us so in no unclear terms. We have to love everyone, including our enemies!

“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5,43-45)

To be sure, being able to love our enemies even as we try our best to resolve with justice and charity our differences, conflicts and other issues is clearly a sign of being Christ-like. It could be the proof that one’s Christianity is real, genuine and consistent, and not fake and inconsistent.

We have to be ready to develop and assume this attitude, always asking first of all for the grace of God and trying to have the very mind and heart of Christ. We also need to discipline our reactions and to train our emotions to conform to this basic Christian standard.

Yes, this ideal can only be possible and doable with God’s grace and the constant effort to assume the very mind and heart of Christ. We should never take this requirement for granted.

In the first place, we have to remember that our true identity is when we become another Christ knowingly and willingly. This presumes a constant effort on our part, since this cannot be considered as an automatic thing to happen in our life. This is not falling into some kind of pious presumption. This is what we are supposed to be. And God, for his part, is all ready to give us all that we need to attain this goal.

To be sure, if we follow this commandment of loving everyone, including our enemies, we would be loving God and others the way Christ himself has loved his Father and all of us. It’s a love that is totally inclusive on the part of the lover, though it may be rejected by the beloved.

It’s a love that would convert and transform us into another Christ, if not Christ himself (alter Christus, ipse Christus), for love, the real love that comes from God, has that power of making the lover united and identified with the beloved.

That is why God became man, and Jesus Christ emptied himself completely to assume our human nature in its best and worst conditions. This love shown to us by Christ is the standard of our love. Therefore, loving others the way Christ loves us is loving Christ in others, no matter how distorted that image of Christ is in others, and thus transforms us to Christ.

To be concrete about all this, we can practice and develop this love simply by being demanding on ourselves while being very understanding, forgiving, lenient on others, always trying to find excuses for them, eager to carry their burden. In fact, if we have this kind of love, we would be willing to suffer and even to die for the others.

Especially now in the contention-prone areas of politics and social media, where all kinds of ideas and comments come, including the most reckless, thoughtless, mannerless ones, we have wonderful opportunities to live and develop this true love.

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