Loving God is loving others PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 April 2018 12:01

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

LET’S be clear about this. We cannot love God truly if we don’t love our neighbor, whoever he may be. St. John said it directly: “If a man says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar. For he that loves not his brother whom he sees, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 Jn 4,20)

We are reminded of this truth of our faith in Pope Francis’s latest Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate. He urges us that to truly love God or to be truly holy, we have to serve the others by living especially the beatitudes and by doing works of mercy.

Paragraph 98 of that document says it very well: “If Iencounter a person outdoors on a cold night, I can view him or her as an annoyance, an idler, an obstacle in my path, a troubling sight, a problem for politicians to sort out, or even a piece of refuse of cluttering a public space.

“Or I can respond with faith and charity, and see in this person a human being with a dignity identical to my own, a creature infinitely loved by the Father, an image of God, a brother or sister redeemed by Jesus Christ. That is what it is to be a Christian! Can holiness somehow be understood apart from this lively recognition of the dignity of each human being?”

Always asking for God’s grace, we need to learn how to put ourselves in the place of the others, regardless of how they are, since this is what Christ, our way, our truth and life, is showing us in his life here on earth.

He, in fact, identified himself more solicitously with the poor and the sinner as can be gleaned from the many episodes in the gospel. He precisely was turned off with those who were self-righteous, those who exuded an obnoxious holier-than-thou attitude.

We need to understand then that our path toward our human and Christian perfection is traced by the way we identify ourselves with everyone else in the same manner that Christ identified himself with each one of us.

We all know that this is not easy to do, and that is why we need to be asking for God’s grace always, because only in that condition would we be able to approximate this ideal that is proper to us.

Let us remember that, as the document also reminds us, it is always God who takes the initiative before we can correspond to his will and ways. “The Church has repeatedly taught,” it says, “that we are justified not by our own works or efforts, but by the grace of the Lord, who always takes the initiative.” (52)

We should therefore be always mindful of what God in the Holy Spirit is trying to prompt us in a given situation. We should not forget that God always intervenes in our life and he is also giving us the means for us to correspond to this will in that particular situation.

The important thing to remember is that God wants us to love everyone, including enemies and those whom we may consider for one reason or another as unlovable. We have to train ourselves to conform ourselves to this basic will of God for us.

Here is what Christ said in this regard: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?...Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5, 44-48)