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This union or concord has been earnestly preached, recommended and taught to us by Our Lord, equally in word and example. He does this so forcibly and in such admirable terms that He appears to forget to recommend to us the love we ought to have for Himself and for His Heavenly Father. He does this to better inculcate in us the love and union He wants us to have for one another. He even calls the Commandment of love for the neighbour His Commandment, His most cherished one. He came into this world to teach us, as our divine Master. Yet nothing is so stressed, nothing stated so completely as the observance of this Commandment. He does so with good reason, for the beloved of the Beloved, the great Apostle St John, assures us that anyone who says that he loves God and does not love his neighbour is a liar. On the other hand, he who says he loves his neighbour but does not love God also contradicts the truth. That simply cannot be. To love God without loving the neighbour, who is created in His image and likeness, is impossible.
To the Ephesians [St Paul] writes: "Beloved, walk the way of love for one another as very dear children of God; walk in this way just as Jesus Christ walked in it, giving His own self for us, offering Himself to God His Father as a holocaust and oblation of sweet odour". Oh, how lovable these words are, and worthy of reflection! These are golden words. By them this great saint helps us to understand what our concord and our dilection toward each other should be like.
Concord and dilection are the same thing. The word "concord" signifies union of heart. "Dilection" signifies election of affections, or union of affections. He seems to want to make clear to us what the Saviour meant when He prayed to His heavenly Father that we might all be one (that is, united), as He and His Father are One. Our Lord was somewhat brief in teaching us in words how He wanted us to practice this holy and most sacred union. For this reason His glorious Apostle developed them in explaining them to us. He exhorts us to walk in the way of dilection (love) as God's most dear children. It is as if he meant: Just as God, our all-good Father, has loved us so dearly that He has adopted us as His children , you must show that you are truly His children by your loving one another dearly in all goodness of heart.
Lest we may walk with a child's steps in the way of dilection which God our Father has so strongly recommended to us, St. Paul adds: Walk the way Our Lord walked in it: He gave Himself for us, and so on. By this he indicates that he wants us to walk with giant strides and not with a child's little steps. Love one another as Jesus Christ has loved us, not because of any merit that may be found in us, but only because He created us in His image and likeness. It is this image and likeness that we ought to love and honour in all, not anything else that may be there.
For your own reflection
1 John 4: 7-11
Love is from God
My dear friends, let us love one another, since love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God,
Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love.
This is the revelation of God's love for us, that God sent his only son into the world that we may have life through him.
Love consists in this: it is not we who have loved God, but God loved us and sent his son to expiate our sins.
My dear friends, if God loved us so much, we too should love one another
Who are the people who love me as Jesus loves me?
In what ways do I experience this love?
In these strange times of social distancing, what can I do to show love to others?
Photo: Meele Fragata on Unsplash
Loving God, in Christ Jesus, the servant of all,
you call us to the service of others.
Grant to those who govern the community
the skill to recognise its urgent needs
and the strength to pursue the common good.
Endow us all with patience and courage,
that we may care for the suffering,
feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and sustain the needy.
Through Christ our Lord.
From the Liturgy Office, England and Wales: Prayer during times of illness