The demands of love of God and neighbor     

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time: ‘Luke 6:27-38’

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By Msgr. Josefino S. Ramirez / SUNDAY GOSPEL IN OUR LIFE

The demands of Christian charity are spelled out clearly in today’s gospel. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). And Christ insisted, “If you love those who love you, what merit have you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). 

This shows us that the love which Christ requires of his follower is not just a feeling of benevolence or companionship. It has to be strongly based on supernatural considerations in order to overcome our natural tendency to despise those who may harm us. 

“Love” is perhaps one of the most abused words in our days. If we were to base our concept of love on what we see in the movies and what we hear in songs, we could end up with a very deformed idea of love. 

Love is not the fleeting emotion or infatuation that people may feel. This kind of “love” is what often gives rise to the worse kinds of selfishness and egoism. People who are carried away by their lower passions do not really love the other person; they just want their personal gratification. 

Love resides in the spiritual faculty of man called the will. Through the will, we do things. Therefore, the real test of love is in what we do. 

A man may confess his love using all the beautiful sonnets of Browning, but if he is unfaithful and does not really try to please his beloved, that is not real love. 

Genuine love can coexist without physical attraction. There is love if there is the desire to seek the good for one’s love. 

The love of God is also based on the will. We do not necessarily love God just because we occasionally have feelings of benevolence. A person may have ecstasies and visions. But if this does not lead him to seek the will of God and to act accordingly, he does not really love God. 

That is why the love of God is incompatible with serious or mortal sin. How can someone say that he loves God, and at the same time, go against the will of God knowingly and freely, in a serious matter? 

“If you love me, keep my commandments” 

Therefore, the first step for a person to really love God and neighbor is to undertake a serious struggle against his own sins. We should try never to offend God. We can do this by keeping his commandments. 

That is the minimum. But even that is not enough. We should fulfill the commandments in a spirit of love. That is why it is very strange for a Christian to be making a kind of “balancing act,” to figure out “up to what extent I can break a commandment” without falling into mortal sin. 

With that approach, because it obviously lacks love, he will probably not even be able to keep all the commandments. 

Someone put it this way: “Nobody ever got to heaven just by trying to avoid hell.”