The imperative to love everyone first
- Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - February 1, 2016 - 9:00am

In our relation with others, we need to remember that the first initiative should come from us, and that initiative should be that of love. We have to love everyone first before we can expect others to love us in return. Or even when we are not loved in return, the imperative remains to take the initiative to love everyone first.

We don't have to wait for others to prove that they deserve to be loved before loving them. The fact that they are around, that they exist is reason enough for us to love them. All other considerations are secondary. Otherwise, that love is a bogus kind of love.

This has been the example of God as well as the commandment Christ himself gave us. In the first letter of St. John, there is a beautiful passage that confirms this point clearly. "We love, because he (God) first loved us." (4,19)

That's true. Our capacity to love others springs from God's love for us. And the way God loves us should also be the same way we love everybody else. If God loves us first, we ought to love others first also.

God loves us first because he created us even if there absolutely was no need for him to do that. God loves us first because even if we sinned and continue to abuse his goodness, he took the initiative to redeem us, even going all the way to send us his Son who assumed our human nature with all its weaknesses and sinfulness without committing sin.

St. Paul expresses this point very beautifully. "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Rom 5,8) And even more vividly, St. Paul describes how Christ loves us. "He (God) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor 5,21)

This is the kind of love we have to give to one another, rid of any ulterior motive, fully and freely given without condition. It's a love that fits us for the dignity God has given us, that of being his image and likeness, that of being his children in his Son who became man, Jesus Christ.

Difficult? You bet. Impossible? That's another story. With God, and always with him, the impossible becomes possible. It is even commanded. We just have to do the little part that falls on us in this kind of relationship we ought to have with God and with everybody else.

We have to learn how to rein in our emotions and passions, and more importantly, our spiritual faculties of intelligence and will, so they follow the impulses of God's grace that goes together with his gifts of faith, hope and charity.

If we are simple and humble enough to accept and live out this tremendous truth of our faith, then it should not be difficult to love others first even if we are not loved in return.

While it's true that we will always be conditioned by various human factors, giving rise to different and even conflicting preferences, etc., we will always be able, with God's grace, to transcend them so we can love others the way God loves us.

Christ himself said so: "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another. As I have loved you, that you also love one another." (Jn 13,34)

We have to learn how to be detached from our preferences even if we continue to have them, which is unavoidable. In fact, those preferences also serve a good purpose in one's personal life but also in the life of society. Thus, it's good to develop and keep a vibrant sporting spirit in life.

This detachment would not compromise our capacity to see things objectively. On the contrary, it enhances all our faculties and powers. And all our human concerns would be better pursued.

It does not compromise, for example, our concern for justice nor for prudence, etc.  In fact, it would put all our human faculties and powers in their right places, their functions facilitated, not impaired.

There would be more integrity in our own personal and individual lives, as well as more unity and harmony in our social life. We would know how to rise above our differences and work together for the common good.

We need to train ourselves to take the initiative to love others first, first of all by closely following Christ, and disciplining ourselves accordingly.


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