It’s a question that we have to ask ourselves, since there are many indications that even those who profess to believe in Christ do so more out of formality. They do not really know him, much less, love him, because if they do, they would be burning with desire to follow him and to bring him to others.
In the gospel, many of the leading Jews during Christ’s time were always skeptical of him. They even went to the extent of doing him harm, and eventually of putting him to death. (cfr. Jn 10,31-42) Some of the people, of course, believed in him, due to the miracles and the splendid preaching he did. Truly, Christ was and continues to be a sign of contradiction.
We have to understand that with Christ, it is not enough to know him. We also have to love him. With Christ, to know him truly is to love him also. In fact, we cannot say we really know him unless we love him too, that is, we become like him.
With him, these two spiritual operations of ours merge into a unity, although they have different directions. In knowing, the object known is in the knower. It has an inward movement. The knower possesses the known object.
In loving, the lover is in the beloved. It has an outward movement. It is the beloved that possesses the lover. The lover gets identified with the beloved. The lover becomes what he loves.
In knowing, the knower abstracts things from his object of interest and keeps them to himself. In loving, the lover gives himself to the beloved. In a sense, the lover loses himself and identifies himself with the beloved.
Of course, there are many things that we know but which we do not have to love, or even that we should not love. We can know a lot of evils, but we should never love them. If anything at all, our knowledge of them is just for the sake of prudence.
But whatever good we know, we should also love, otherwise we would fall into some anomaly of inconsistency. In whatever is good, we should not be contented with knowing it only. We should love it. Let’s remember what St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians in this regard:
“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (8,1-2)
And we can add that if one is known by God, he somehow already knows everything that he ought to know since God, who possesses him because he loves God, knows everything. In other words, he shares in the knowledge of God.
Since Christ is for us the highest good we can have, we should both know and love him to the max. We should not just know him and not love him, nor should we just love him without knowing him—or at least, trying to know him the best way that we can, since being God, Christ has aspects that are a mystery to us, that is, beyond our capacity to know him fully.
We can know Christ by studying the gospels and the Church’s teachings about him. But in order to love him, we should put this knowledge of God into practice, converting it into our life itself, to such an extent that we become “another Christ.”*