“I Want to See.”
by Blind Beggar Bart
The Redundancy in Unconditional Love
I came across a facebook post which enlightened me further on the fundamental call for every Christian to love even our enemies. In this link, http://www.catholic365.com/article/615/its-possible-to-love-people-without-liking-them.html, the author explains that the “problem” lies in our English dictionary (!) definition of the word love, which implies affection. I would even guess most of us, I included, simply equated love with affection! Realizing this, I now have to remember that, whenever I see the word love in Scripture and in Christian writings, it actually means “agape” (Greek word) referring to divine love, reflecting Christ’s love for us by dying on the cross. To have a better grasp, the author even gave a plain simple definition: truly wanting the best for the other person. And yet, I still say it’s difficult and at times may not even be humanly possible! Why is it necessary for me to make this effort when I can just avoid people I dislike altogether? Wouldn’t that be easier and more beneficial, a typical advice I hear from others? – Struggling Christian, 3/15/2015.
Dear Struggling Christian,
If your ultimate goal in life is to be successful according to the standards of this world, then it makes sense to follow the advice of people who have become such. But if your goal is to follow Christ, then follow Him. I’m not saying that you should make your life miserable by always surrounding yourself with difficult people. Depending on your circumstances you may have to let go of certain people, but often it is only a matter of seeing things in a different light (in the light of Christ) that it is not actually difficult at all, and realizing that God may have willed that you be His instrument for that person and vice versa. If you are serious about being a Christian, then keep in mind and at heart what you have said yourself: Jesus’ “fundamental call on every Christian to love even our enemies.” God's love, the love in the dimension of the cross, agape, is the love that every Christian is called to.
Yes it is difficult to follow such a call to agape love. But the author in the link you provided gave the first step and easiest expression of that agape love: Praying for the other person, for truly wanting the best for him. And yes sometimes we feel that it may not even be humanly possible to love the people who gave us a life-long pain, but who says that we have to do this by our own human effort? It is only through Jesus that we are able to experience the divine. Our faith in him opens us up to the graces that enables us to love divinely (agape).
Finally, the confusion caused by the differing definitions of the word love made me realize the redundancy in saying “God’s unconditional love” because it would presuppose God’s love can be conditional, which can never be. So it is already superfluous to add the adjective “unconditional.” "God’s love" suffices. [“God alone suffices.” – St. Teresa of Jesus, Doctor of the Church, celebrating her 5th centennial birth this year, 2015] Keep in mind that this unconditional nature of God’s love also means that the same love is given to all, no exceptions. If we are to love our enemies as well as those we like, then we are actually called to love all, just as God loves all – the world. Let’s reflect then on today’s familiar gospel (3/15/2015): For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (Jn 3:14)…
If you would like to email me and hopefully find my response in this column, please send it to email@example.com (for now) addressed to me, or go to Contact Us of this website. Links to previous articles are found below. –BBB, 3/15/2015.
Loving Submission (12/28/2014)
Are We Mere Spectators? (4/16/2014)
My Blindness (4/13/2014)
Spiritual Blindness (4/2/2014)
God Loves You! (3/16/2014)
That All May Be One in Repentance (3/7/2014)
No one Is, So Why Be Perfect? (3/2/2014)
Mature Love, (2/5/2014)
Let It Be Done According to Your Word: The Vanity of the Plans We Make (12/9/2013)
Our Struggles Within (8/9/2011)
Lovingly Correcting Others (6/18/2010)
Our Uncontrollable Lives (4/11/2010)