The sensory manifestation of the emotions isn’t the best criterion for verifying Christian love, but a better one is the attentive behavior for the good of the other. Generally a humble service to someone in need almost always contains more love than many moving words.
But at times we’ve insisted so much on the force of will that we’ve come to deprive charity of its affective content. And yet Christian love that is born from the depths of the person also inspires feelings, and is transmitted in warm affect.
Loving the neighbor demands doing good to her, but it also means accepting her, respecting her, valuing what there is in her that’s friendly, making her feel our welcome and our love. Christian love leads the person to adopt a warm attitude of sympathy, care and affect, overcoming postures of antipathy, indifference or rejection.
Naturally our personal mode of loving comes conditioned by sensitivity, affective wealth or the capacity of communication of each person. But Christian love promotes warmth, sincere affect and friendship between the persons.
This warmth isn’t just external politeness expected by good upbringing, nor spontaneous sympathy that is born when we are in touch with agreeable people, but the sincere and purified attitude of one who allows self to be enlivened by Christian love.
Maybe today we don’t emphasize sufficiently the importance that the cultivation of this warmth has in the bosom of the family, in the sphere of work and in all our relationships. However warmth helps people feel better, calms tensions and conflicts, brings attitudes closer, strengthens friendship, makes fraternity grow.
Warmth helps to free us from feelings of indifference and rejection, since it’s directly opposed by our tendency to dominate, manipulate or make our neighbor suffer. Those who know how to communicate affect in a healthy and generous way create around them a more human and livable world.
Jesus insists on spreading this warmth not just before the friend or the agreeable person, but even before one who rejects us. Let’s remember some of his words that reveal his style of being: «If you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional?».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf