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February 1992

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. (Lk. 6:32)

This month's Word of Life is taken from Luke's gospel. It forms part of a large section containing sayings of Jesus, which is similar to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel. As we know, in this section Jesus describes the demands of the Kingdom of God and the characteristic features of those who belong to it. These have their source and their goal in the imitation of the heavenly Father.

In this verse Jesus calls his disciples to imitate the love of God the Father. If we want to be his children, we must love our neighbours in the way that he does.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

The first and most significant characteristic of the love of God the Father is the fact that it is absolutely free. In this it is radically opposed to the world's way of loving. The world's way of loving is based on being loved in return and on how likeable people are (we love people who love us and people we like). The Father's love is completely selfless. It is given quite independently of any possible response. It is in the nature of this love to take the initiative, giving all that it possesses. As a result it is a love which builds and transforms. The heavenly Father does not love us because we are good and spiritual and therefore worthy of his attention and benevolence. On the contrary, by loving us, he himself creates in us goodness and spiritual beauty through grace, making us become his friends and his children.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

Another characteristic of the love of God the Father is the fact that it is universal. God loves everyone without exception. The measure of his love is to be immeasurable and boundless.

In fact, this love of his could not be free and creative if it were not totally directed towards every need and every emptiness to be filled.

This is why the heavenly Father also loves those children who are ungrateful, far from him or rebellious. Indeed, he feels particularly drawn to them.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

How shall we live the Word of Life this month? We should behave as true children of the heavenly Father, by imitating his love, above all those characteristics of it which we have emphasised here, namely the fact that it is universal and freely given. So we can try to be the first to love, with generosity, understanding and openness towards everyone, especially whenever there seems to be a lack of love around us. We can try to love with a love that does not expect results. We can try to become instruments of God's generosity, sharing with others the natural gifts and the graces God has given us.

If we let ourselves be guided by this word of Jesus, we will have a new heart and new eyes to see each neighbour who passes by and every opportunity that daily life offers us. And wherever we are (in the family, at school, at work, in hospital etc.) we will feel drawn to be people who spread this love which is characteristic of God and which Jesus brought on earth, the only love able to transform the world.

Chiara Lubich

 

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