Love Without Boarders
Readings: (1st: Lev 19, 1-2. 17-18; Ps 102, 1-4. 8-13; 2nd: 1Cor 3, 16-23; Gos: Matt 5:38-48)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, the church turns our attention to this very important theological virtue, Love. We celebrate the Lord who is compassionate and love. As we celebrate Christ who is love, the church calls us to be like Him. This is because, we are built into Christ, like stones built into a temple erected to give glory to God.
Love is a very simple word. It is made up of just four alphabets (L-O-V-E). In spite of its simplicity, it is one of the most difficult virtues to practice. This is because, it is easier to talk about love it than to practice it. Saint Augustine said: “Love and do whatever you wish to do.” Hence, any word or action that is not motivated by love is simply, a flatus vocis (empty). We are supposed to be “Ile Ife” (house of love), from which love flows and is dispensed to others. So, to be a disciple of Christ, is to love without boundary and unconditionally.
Today’s first reading focuses strongly on the love of one’s neighbor. It suffices to note that it did not specify any condition that our neighbor must meet before we could love him. In order words, it has to be unconditional. In this reading, God tells us the best way to achieve it: “Love your neighbor as yourself!” This means, being true to others as to oneself. It is important to note that a selfish person cannot love others.
In the second reading, Paul exalts the Corinthians, as well as us. He advanced an argument in order to help us live in love as one family. Hence, he reminds us that we are God’s temple. That is, house of love. So, we are not to destroy this temple because it belongs to Christ. The temple could be destroyed if it lacks love, but harbors division and hatred.
In the gospel, Jesus continues his teaching and discourse on the commands of God. He takes love to another dimension: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you…” Honestly, this is a hard teaching. However, Paul reminds us: “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me” (Phil 4, 13).
Today, Christ gives us a new command. Being able to love irrespective of much difficulties is a mark of a true Christian. Love unites, because it forgives, tolerates, corrects gently and patiently (1Cor 13). A community that lacks true love never progresses. Likewise, a family that lacks love never stands. An individual who lacks love cannot love even oneslf.
Jesus preached love and generosity towards our enemies. Unfortunately, by nature we are vindictive. However, vindictiveness only corrodes our heart and grieves our spirit. We should emulate Christ who prayed for his enemies: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23, 34). We must be willing to leave retaliation in God’s hands. Christ did not threaten His accusers, rather, he showed them love, because love is the root of life. It is the medicine that heals every heart.
Finally, Today the psalmist tells us that: “The Lord is compassion and love…and rich in mercy” Here, the Psalmist brings together three important virtues love, compassion and mercy. These are as attributes of God. Therefore, as images of God, they are supposed to be the attributes of every one of us. May love peace and compassion reign in our hearts.
Peace be with you!