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November 1994

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all. (1 Thess. 3:12)

This is one of those expressions often used by Paul in which he hopes for, and at the same time asks the Lord for, special graces for his communities (cf. Eph. 3:18; Phil. 1:9).

Here he asks that the Thessalonians be granted the grace of an ever-greater, indeed overflowing, mutual love. It is not a question of a veiled reproof, as if mutual love did not already exist in their community. Instead, he emphasises a law present in the very nature of love, and that is, its constant growth.

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all.

Since love is the core of the Christian life, if it does not progress, the whole life of a Christian suffers the consequences, becomes weak and may even die.

It is not enough to have understood, in a moment of light, the commandment to love our neighbour or to have experienced with enthusiasm its drive and zeal at the beginning of our conversion to the Gospel. We need to make it grow by keeping it always alive, active, at work. This will happen if, with always more readiness and generosity, we know how to make use of the various opportunities life offers us each day.

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all.

Paul believes that Christian communities should have the freshness and warmth of a true family. Hence we can understand his purpose in putting them on their guard against the dangers that most threaten them, which are individualism, superficiality and mediocrity.

But he also wants to warn against another grave danger, which is closely connected to these. It is that of settling into a way of life that is orderly and peaceful, but closed in on itself.

He wants communities that are open to others because it is charity's nature to love those of the same faith community and, at the same time, to go out towards everyone, being sensitive to the problems and needs of all. And it is charity's nature to know how to welcome anyone whoever it might be, to build bridges, recognising all that is positive and uniting one's own desires and efforts towards good with all people of good will.

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all.

How shall we live this month's Word of Life? We too can try to increase mutual love in our families, in our workplaces, in our communities or church associations, parishes, etc.

This Word of Life asks us to have an overflowing charity, one that surpasses the mediocre standards and barriers of our subtle selfishness. If we bear in mind certain aspects of charity (tolerance, understanding, mutual acceptance, patience, readiness to serve, mercy towards the real or presumed shortcomings of our neighbours, sharing material goods, etc.), we will find many opportunities for living it.

Clearly then, if such an atmosphere of mutual love is present in our community, it cannot fail to spread its warmth towards everyone. Even those who do not yet know the Christian life will be attracted by it and, very easily, almost without realising it, they will become involved to the point of feeling part of the same family.

Chiara Lubich

 

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