Love of neighbour is [indeed] possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern. This I can offer them not only through the organizations intended for such purposes, accepting it perhaps as a political necessity. Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave.
Deus Caritas Est 18
Reflection – I don’t know—is it possible?—that some of the readers of this blog have ever had the experience of finding it difficult to love a certain person? Is it just within the realm of possibility that any of you have ever encountered that particular problem?
Yes, once in a while it has been known that we meet a person who annoys, irks, repels, disgusts, enrages us. This is actually, of course, a fairly common human situation.
The wisdom of the world says, in those cases, ‘well, to Hell with them, then!’ Love those who love you, or love those who you like, and forget the rest of them.
This is not the wisdom of the Gospels. This is not the way of God. And we have to choose. Do we belong to the world, or to God? Who are we following?
To love those we dislike is a work. It doesn’t just happen. And this work is a matter of, as the Pope says, drawing closer to Christ. This intimate encounter with God, this crying out to the Lord: “That I may love this person! That I may see them as you see them! Have mercy on me, Jesus!”
This is the love that transforms our own hearts into a fire of love. This is the love that provides warmth and light for the world. Without this kind of love, this kind of movement towards God, we are just one more bunch of worldly people—nice, maybe, but nothing special.
God wants us to be fire and light in the world. And the quickest way to that fire and light is to commit ourselves to loving in difficult circumstances, with all the prayer and struggle that entails for us.
It’s our choice, but on that choice hangs a great deal. Will we shine the light of the Gospel into the world, or will we be part of the world’s darkness? Catherine Doherty puts it well: “The day you no longer burn with love many will die of the cold.”