Do you know which is the greatest love story ever written? Or the greatest love episode ever took place? Is it Romeo Juliet or Laila - Majnu, Ambikavathi - Amaravathi or Shajahan – Mumtaz? Yes these are truly great stories of love but the greatest love story ever happened in the human history is the love story of a person called Jesus Christ who loved the humanity to the extent of sacrificing his life on the cross.
The motif that runs throughout the chapter 15 of St. John’s gospel is love. There is no doubt that Christ loved us but can we love Christ? How can we love Christ? Is it possible to love Christ? If we say yes, what is the concept of Christ you and me have? Is he like our beloved whom we meet every day or talk to every day. I am not reducing love of Christ purely to human level but that can serve as the spring board for us to take off in to his divinity.
“I miss you” is one of the oft repeated phrases we say to our best friends What does that mean? It only means that we felt the absence of his/her presence. How many of us can say ‘I miss you Jesus’. People who are in love find it hard to think of a world without the other. They need to hear the voice of the beloved always; they want to be in his/her presence throughout their lives. Do we have such longing for Christ?
I confided to one of my spiritual directors saying that I find it hard to love Christ because I have not seen him. All that I know is from the Scripture and the Catechism classes. How can I love a person whom I have not even seen? How can I miss someone whom I hardly know personally? How can be rooted in his love when no love relationship has taken between both of us? He answered me saying that the love of Christ is manifested through several other people and sometimes even directly by Himself. I have heard this answer several times from several people but this time I gave a serious thought to it. We hardly open our eyes to the reality. Every day Jesus tells you and me “I love you” But we hardly have time to hear it.
What is the problem of world today? It is not so much the Globalization, terrorism, violence, Caste system etc. These are only the symptoms of a serious problem or a killer disease. The virus that causes this disease is the culture of ‘Lack of Love’ If we love someone sincerely we will not exploit them, we tend to be gentle and caring with them, we will not discriminate our beloved. We live in a world which is promoting anti-love culture. Slowly we are becoming narcissistic in our approach. This is only reflected in our day today life.
I am just talking about the human love and transposing it to Jesus. But we should not stop only there. The quality of the love of God is not as ours. He loves us continuously even if we sin against him. His love is filled with grace; he keeps telling us “I love you with all your defects”
God created us not because he had nothing to do. He created us because He loves us. Every love creates love. His love created us but we as usual betrayed his love and fallen away. It surely hurt God but he still keeps loving us. He went on to make the greatest covenant in the human history in Mount Sinai. We broke the covenant and kept hurting him. When we had gone too far from his love, God understood the danger and he wanted to save us and so he sent the prophets. What did we do? We killed the prophets and insulted God. God did not stop with that, He did not get frustrated with our attitude. As we read in Jn 3: 14, He so loved the world that he sent his only son to save us. His incarnation was the decisive manifestation of God’s love. Did we respond to him? No! We kept rejecting his love. We went to the height of insensitivity by crucifying our savior on the other hand God went on to show his love on the cross. There is no doubt he saved us! But what is our response? We as cruel sons and daughters keep rejecting God’s love. One can even ask what is the need for this God of love, to love us. It is not his need to love us, he loves us simply because he loves us. Such is our God of love. Very few of us respond to his love. Every time we commit sin, we reject his love. Every time we fail to see God in the poor, orphans, widows and the marginalized we fail to accept this God of love. We have lost that childlike innocence.
Is it possible to be rooted in his love? It is possible to be nested in his love. It is wonderful to be with God. But God’s love is not passive it is active love. God’s love brings in transformation. If we sincerely love God it will be manifested in our love towards our neighbour.
The moment we develop hatred, favoritism, insensitivity we move away from God. He is father who is stretching his arms to embrace us the prodigal sons and daughters. He is ready to accept and love us as we are but we have to take the first step to return. Once we return to him, a huge banquet is waiting for us. But that does not stop with that, we have to start living a responsible life. We cannot continue living a life of prodigal sons and daughters.
The Evangelist John repeatedly speaks about love of Christ. Christ calls us to abide with him in his love. He is calling us to be branches in his vine. He is not asking us to enjoy the grapes rather he is asking us to be part of the plant. The fruits of the vine and the branches are for the humanity at large. As ministers of word of God we are called to be rooted in Christ and together with him bring fruits of salvation to the humanity at large.
Karl Rahner speaks about Radical the unity of love of God and love of neighbour. It is true that we cannot equate these two. If we say that love of neighbour is equal to love of God we are actually committing the greatest sin of idolatry. At the same time we need to realize that love of God without love of neighbour would be and incomplete. It is incomplete because the love of God is expressed through love of neighbour. There are persons who would love to spend a good deal of time in prayer but cannot spend a little time with the needy. This would be an incomplete love of God. On the other hand there are some who think that only by loving neighbours we can reach God which is equal to idolatry. Our love for our neighbour should eventually lead us to God in faith. Christ spent his day in ministry and most part of the night in prayer. Mission and prayer are inseparable components; one without the other would be missing the other half of the reality.
Today’s world needs love both of God and neighbour. Love of God is always there but many are blind to this supreme love. We need to make them realize that God loves them with all their sinfulness. This love of God should be concretely manifested in our love for the world at large. On the judgment day when Christ asks us whether we gave food to him, whether we clothed him, whether we visited when he was sick, whether we welcomed him, we should not be asking a foolish question, Lord when were you in need and when did I neglect you? It is not for the sake of judgment we should love him rather it is our Christian call to love the neighbours. Christ again defines a neighbour through the famous parable Good Samaritan. We should be proud to call ourselves as Christians because it is the only religion where God has lived a life of a human being and showed us the path to live a fruitful life. We are supposed to be enlightened people, we cannot give excuses saying that we were ignorant about God’s expectation from us. Let us be the carriers of love which is possible only when we are nested in Christ’s love which is nested in Father’s love through the Holy Spirit.