WHAT can be a good sign that we have a true love, and not just some kind of infatuation and the like? I guess the answer can be derived from what Christ himself told us clearly.
And that’s nothing other than when we can manage, with God’s grace, to love not only our neighbor, but also our enemy. Of course, it is loving with the love of God as shown to us by Christ himself who bore all our sins by offering his life on the cross.
Let’s remember what Christ said very clearly: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.’ (Lk 6,27-29)
He continued: “Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”
To be sure, if we follow this commandment, 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, irrespective of whether such love is accepted or rejected by the beloved.
It’s a love that would convert and transform us into another Christ, if not 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, and thus transforms us into another Christ.
We have to expand our heart to make it more universal, as well as broaden our mind so we can understand things more deeply and extensively. Let’s examine ourselves more thoroughly so as to be more aware of our biases and preferences that can get in the way of our effort to adapt and our pursuit for a more universal love and compassion.
We have to learn how to go through the process of changing, improving and growing in our spiritual life. This can be painful and tedious, but it is always worthwhile. Not only that. It is necessary, if we have to be realistic.
This universal love should not be exclusively associated with the sweet and tender moments of pity, sympathy and empathy. It demands sacrifice and self-denial which we should be willing to give.
Our challenging times are actually a call for us to identify ourselves more closely with Christ so we can love everyone the way Christ loved all of us and continues to do so.