Reading through the Synoptic Gospels, (Matt 22:3440; Mark 12: 28-34; Luke 10:25-28) Jesus summarises all the commands of the Torah in the two-fold command to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbour as yourself.” Not only does He condense the commandments into two but makes it known that these are the two greatest commandments and that those who fulfill them will inherit eternal life.
The Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani and Catholic writer, Thomas Merton says “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone, we find it with another.” From the beginning of our lives to the end, we are linked to everyone else who lives. We need communion and friendship, relationship and communities where people care for one another, support one another.
All of us belong to one Race (the Human Race), to one fellowship (since the love of God has been poured into the hearts of every person who has ever lived; Rom 5:5). If our beginning defines the reception of love as a gift, our destiny demands that we imitate it, participate in it and share it. Our Christian doctrine teaches us that learning to give and receive love is a lifetime calling because “as God’s finely sculpted images, we grow and have life only in relationships and communities characterised by mutual and generouslove.”
The path to growth and fulfillment is love; to love everyone because we all are children of the same Father (cf. Malachi 2:100 necessarily making us neighbours and siblings. However, as we make our journey through life, we find out that some persons are not so easy to love. Some may be quarrelsome, irritating and obnoxious but we should not lose sight of the truth and nature of God’s heart, who loves these people as much as He loves us.
Take a listen to the words of An American novelist by name Anne Lamott who said “You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when it turns out that he hates all the same people you do.” The point is clear; God is not made in our image but on the contrary we are created in His image and likeness. Therefore, in the community of charity we are called to love whomever God loves and secondly because His love excludes no one.
• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.