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True love described

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Christ said it very clearly. He who is not only the fullness of the revelation of God but is also the embodiment of what true love is said: “Love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15,12-13)

Somehow those words tell us that true love can only have a universal scope. We can note that he simply said to “love one another as I love you” without further qualification.

And immediately after those words, he described what is to be his friend that gives us an idea about what the essence of friendship is. “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (Jn 15,14) Thus, friendship is all about doing Christ’s commands. It’s not so much about having common likes and dislikes with others, or some other criteria or standards.

If our love is true, that is, it is a love that is a vital participation of Christ’s love for all of us, then it is open to anything. That love would remain steadfast and would continue to grow and to be creative irrespective of how it is received by the object of such love.

It can be received well or not, it can be reciprocated generously or be betrayed. Regardless of the fate it falls into, that love will remain faithful. Thus, St. Paul once said: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Tim 2,13)

This basic truth about true love should be known and appreciated by everyone of us, and especially those who are into some commitments, like married people and those with special vocations. They have to pattern their love and sense of commitment after Christ’s love that has as its objects the Father and all of us.

Christ was and is open to anything because of pure love. This is the kind of love that we should try our best to cultivate in ourselves too. It’s purely gratuitous, and even more, it will do everything to recover the beloved even if the latter not only not corresponds to that love but also betrays and goes against that love. It’s a love that is willing to bear the sins, mistakes and offenses of the others, and even willing to offer one’s life for them.

We can only do this if we are true friends of Christ, that is, persons who obey Christ’s commands. It’s this friendship with Christ that would enable us to be friendly with everybody else regardless of how the others are.

As one saint said it, we should be willing to go to the very gates of hell, without entering it, of course, if only to save a soul. This obviously would require of us to be tough and clear about the real goal to reach, and yet flexible and adaptable to any person and to any condition.

In this regard, we have to learn how to fraternize with sinners. We have to replicate Christ’s attitude towards sinners, who actually are all of us—of course, in varying degrees. We have to give special attention to the lost sheep and to the lost coin. We have to open all possible avenues to be in touch with all sinners.

This is what true love is all about. It may not be all sweet according to our human standards. But it is what is truly proper to us!*

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