Saturday, May 16, 2009

Where there is love, there is God

St. John says, “Wherever there is love, there is God”. He does not say, “Wherever there are Christians, there is God” or “Wherever there is a Christian church, there is God”. But, wherever there is a person filled with real agape-love for others, God is there. That is the meaning of the parable of the Good Samaritan. He was called “good” not because he was a religious person but because he reached out in compassionate love for someone who was supposed to be his enemy. Wherever in the world there is truth, compassion, justice, true freedom and peace, God is certainly there.
Jesus gives us just one commandment. He does not say, “Love Jesus or love God as I have loved you”. No, he says, “If you want to be my disciple, then you must love one another, as I have loved you.” If we really love our brothers and sisters, including strangers and even enemies, we do not have to worry if we love God. But, if we do not love everyone unconditionally, then there is no other way I can claim to love Jesus. I need to love those God loves (with agape) and God loves every single person without exception, even the most wicked.
In practice, of course, it is not always so easy. We need to learn slowly how to love people unconditionally. Our lower instincts and the prevailing culture around us think differently. Yet, we need to learn that the way of Jesus is in fact more in tune with our deeper nature. It is more human to be loving than hating (yet we often excuse our outbursts or anger or hatred as being “only human”). Deep down, we all want to love people. We do not like to hate people and hating does terrible things to our minds and our bodies. We like people to be our friends and do not like them to be our enemies.
Love is not a question of keeping rules and commandments. Love is a way of life. It is an internal attitude which influences every single thing we do and say and think.
The love of a Christian needs to be unconditional. Sometimes people will love us back; sometimes they will not. Sometimes, even though we want to love people, they may reject us. If they do reject us, we need not necessarily think that we have done wrong. When people cannot return genuine love, it is they who have the problem. Sad to say, not everyone is capable of loving. All the more reason why we need to reach out to them. People often learn to love by being loved.
The most important thing is that I am someone who really loves. When I genuinely love others, there will always be some who cannot love me back but there will be others who will really respond in love. And it may be that my love has empowered them to be loving too.
To be able to reach out in love and to experience being loved is God’s greatest grace.

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