A STYLE OF LOVING
Christians started their expansion in a society in which there were distinct terms to express what we today call love. The most used word was «filia», which designated the affect toward a close person and it was used to talk about friendship, the affection or love for parents and friends. They talked also about «eros» to designate pleasant inclination, passionate love, or simply the desire directed toward someone who produces joy and satisfaction in us.
The first Christians abandoned this terminology in practice and put into circulation another almost unknown word: «agape», to which they gave a new and original content. They didn’t want the love inspired by Jesus to be confused with just any old thing. From here arises their interest in formulating well the «new commandment of love»: «I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you».
Jesus’ style of loving is unmistakable. He didn’t draw near people seeking his own interest or satisfaction, his security or well-being. He’s only thinking about doing good, welcoming, giving the best he can, offering friendship, helping to live. Thus they will remember years later in the first Christian communities: «He spent his whole life doing good».
That’s why his love has a character of service. Jesus puts himself at the service of those who could most need it. He makes a place in his heart and in his life for those who have no place in society or in the concern of peoples. He defends the weak and the little ones, those who have no power to defend themselves, those who aren’t great and important. He draws near to those who are alone and needy, those who don’t know anyone’s love or friendship.
It’s common among us to love those who appreciate and truly love us, be caring and attentive with our family members and friends, in order to then live with indifference toward those we feel as strangers and far away from our small world of interests. However, what distinguishes a follower of Jesus isn’t just any old «love», but precisely that style of loving that consists in drawing near to those who can need us. We mustn’t forget it.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf