WE HAVE TO KNOW what pure love is since we are called to it. Christ described it in this way: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5,43-45)

We have to understand that love is something that we do and give gratuitously, without counting the cost nor expecting any reward. And it is made greater when it is given to someone whom we consider to be unlikeable or unlovable.

We have to be ready to develop this kind of love since it definitely requires a lot of sacrifice and self-denial. It requires more than our human resources and reasons for loving. It requires nothing less than God’s grace, our total identification with Christ who is the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity. Yes, only with God can we have this kind of love.

True love cannot and should not be quantified in terms of cost and reward. It is above all these considerations. It’s a purely spiritual operation that should not be spoiled by giving it some material and temporal value. It’s where we can approximate, keep and build up that dignity of being the image and likeness of God and adopted children of his. It’s how we become God-like.

This is the language of love that was first initiated by God to us and that has generated an endless cycle of love, of gratuitous self-giving to God and to one another. It is important that we feel this tremendous love of God for us so that we can return love with love, with God as the first object of our love and all the others as a consequence.

Let’s remember that God’s love for us accounts for everything that is good in us—our life, our talents and the many other endowments and blessings that we may not even realize. And more than this, God has given us his own self by making us his image and likeness, children of his, sharers of his divine life.

And even if we have damaged that original gift, God has given us his own Son who became man to save us. In other words, God has given us the greatest gift, no less than his own Son who, aside from becoming man like us, had to offer his life on the cross as a ransom for our sins.

We have to learn how to be most aware of this reality of God’s gift to us so that we can learn also how to give ourselves as a gift to him and to everybody else. That’s why Christ told us, “freely you have received, freely give.” (Mt 10,8)

Christ concretely expressed this way of gratuitous self-giving in the new commandment he gave us that we have to love one another as he himself has loved us. It’s a love, a self-giving that is completely gratuitous without counting the cost nor expecting any reward. Everyday, we have to try to approximate this kind of love. We are actually given many opportunities to develop this kind of love in our daily routine as we meet all kinds of people and situations. By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail June 19-25, 2023 issue)