The radicality of Christian love

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

IF we truly identify ourselves with Christ, as we should, then we have to realize that we have to love God and everybody else all the way. And this can go even to the extent of offering our very life, since, as we have been reminded, “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15,13) Yes, we can and should give up our life if worst comes to worst.

Again, to clarify about who our friends are, we should take it from the viewpoint of Christ, who considered everyone to be a friend even if in our earthly conditions, we can talk of friends and enemies.

And that’s because at the end of the day, despite our differences and conflicts, we are all children of God, brothers and sisters to each other. We should be in friendly and brotherly terms with everybody. Thus, Christ clearly said that we even have to love our enemies. (cfr. Mt 5,43-44)

We should not be surprised by this radicality of true Christian love. If we would just also realize that for us to live this kind of love, we need to truly identify with Christ, always asking for his grace without neglecting the human effort we need to have this kind of love.

This Christian love simply goes beyond our natural human powers. It can only be lived when we receive and channel the very supernatural love God shares with us through Christ in the Holy Spirit.

Thus, we need to revolutionize our understanding of love which is the essence of our perfection. It should go beyond the parameters of our human condition, and give the dynamics of grace full play.

In practical terms, this could mean that we should never say enough to the demands of love. Loving requires us to be vitally in touch with God through prayers, recourse to the sacraments, development of virtues, carrying out of our responsibilities, etc.

If we persist in praying, we can increasingly discern God’s will for us moment to moment. Our capacity to follow his will and to receive and share his powers and wisdom increases. We would just find ourselves swept by the forcefulness of his love. What we found before as difficult, if not impossible, to do, we would find it rather easy now.

This perfection of love has endless manifestations. We would always think well of others in spite of their mistakes and even their offenses against us. Like God, we would be slow to anger and quick to forgive.

On our part, we should learn to find reasons to love everyone. We should not just wait for them to prove that they deserve our love. We initiate that love at the impulse of grace. That they are persons, like us, is already enough for us to love them with madness.

We have to learn to find excuses and to bear whatever burden and inconveniences others may cause us. We will always speak well of others. We have to learn how not to be scandalized by their sins and failures. More than this, we should be eager to give them the best—and that’s none other than God.

We have to learn to leave behind what so far we think is loving, because love by nature goes without measure. We have to follow its unending quest and adventure, relying mainly on the impulses of God’s grace.