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September 1993

Love is the fulfilment of the Law. (Rom. 13:10)

These words end a large section of the letter to the Romans in which Paul presents the Christian life as a life of love for our brothers and sisters. This is the new spiritual worship that a Christian is called to offer to God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 12:1), who is the first to kindle it in our hearts.

Summing up the content of this section, Paul affirms that love of neighbour enables us to carry out the will of God contained in the Law (that is, in the commandments) in a full and perfect way. Love for our brothers and sisters is the most beautiful and most genuine way of showing our love for God.

Love is the fulfilment of the Law.

But in practical terms, what does this fullness and perfection mean? We can find the answer in the preceding verses, where Paul describes for us this love's various expressions and effects.

First of all, true love of neighbour does no wrong (cf. Rom. 13:10). It enables us to live all the commandments of God, excluding none (cf. Rom. 13:9), since the primary aim of the commandments is to make us avoid all the forms of wrongdoing, towards ourselves and towards our brothers and sisters, that we might fall into.

Apart from not doing any wrong, this love then urges us to do all the good our neighbour needs (cf. Rom. 12:6-8).

This Word of Life encourages us to have a love that shows solidarity and is sensitive to the wants, expectations and legitimate rights of our brothers and sisters. It encourages us to have a love that is respectful of human and Christian dignity: a love that is pure, understanding, able to share and open to all people, as Jesus taught us.

This love is not possible unless we are ready to come out of our individualism and self-sufficiency. So this Word of Life helps us to overcome all those selfish tendencies (pride, avarice, lust, ambition, vanity, etc.), which we have within us and which are the main obstacle to loving in this way (cf. Rom. 12:9-21).

Love is the fulfilment of the Law.

How shall we live this month's Word of Life? Let's try to keep in mind the various requirements of love of neighbour that this Word of Life reminds us to live.

In the first place, we should avoid doing wrong to our neighbour in any of its forms. We should pay constant attention to the commandments of God that relate particularly to our vocation, to our work and to the environment in which we live. The first condition for putting Christian love into practice is never to go against the commandments of God.

Then we should be attentive to what is the soul, the motive and the aim of all the commandments. Each of them, as we have seen, wants to bring us to have a love that is ever more vigilant, ever more delicate and respectful, ever more concrete towards our brothers and sisters.

At the same time we will develop a spirit of detachment from ourselves and of mastery over our selfish tendencies, which follows from living out Christian love.

In this way we will carry out the will of God 'fully' and we will show him our love in the way that is most pleasing to him.

Chiara Lubich

 

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