“I GIVE you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:24)
Pope Francis says that love is a decision and not just a sentiment. And so, we love although it hurts and is challenging. For as St. Paul tells us, love is patient and kind. It hopes all thing and endures all things. (See 1 Cor. 13:4-8)
Love is challenging because it asks us to expand our love to others beyond families, friends, and people we like. As Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32)
Love expands not merely to people but one’s country and Mother Earth. It is a deep concern for a nation’s state, leaders, and citizens. It works to preserve the beauty and purity of God’s nature.
Love does not deceive or twist the truth. It is not greedy or power-hungry; it does not seek its own interest but the common good.
It cares deeply for the impoverished and the marginalized, often sacrificing one’s comfort. Pope Francis expresses this attribute of love in these words: “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love…. To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material. And it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what counts: to love God and our neighbor. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away. What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes.”
It feels good to show love to one’s family and friends, but it is more rewarding, noble, and beautiful in the eyes of God if we share this love with strangers, the needy, and all of God’s creation!
* * *
The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
* * *
Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.